5 things to do at work before 2016

By Bethany Chambers | Digital Operations Manager

It’s mid-December, and your workdays before the end of the year may be counted on one hand. With all the balls you’re juggling for the holidays, like the stings of lights that already burnt out and the hard-to-find gift for your pickiest loved one, something’s got to give.

And that something is usually work productivity.

It’s a common scenario in every workplace in America this time of year, and it’s at odds with the stark reality that many businesses count on end-of-year sales and new-year planning for success. If ever there were a time for efficiency, now would be it. In what days you have left in the office before you take off, set yourself up for a fresh beginning in 2016 by taking these simple steps.

1. Clean up that desktop clutter.

Whether you’re a tchotchke collector or a paper-piler (or in my unfortunate case, both) go ahead now and rid yourself of all the things you don’t use or don’t need. If you haven’t even shuffled through that stack of papers in the corner of your desk in 2015, throw it away. You won’t miss it. If you consider this an unconventional filing system, invest in some colored folders and start organizing it into an actual filing system. Now you have room for tasteful decor…and all of the papers to come.


2. Now, clean up that virtual desktop.

Your computer crashes a lot; things seem to be running slow. Before you blame IT, take a moment to ask yourself: Could I be the cause of this technological meltdown? Chances are the answer is “yes.” Are there so many files on your desktop that you don’t remember what your wallpaper is? The first step to a happier computer (and therefore a happier you) is to delete old and unused files, and put everything else in files that make sense. I personally keep everything in two folders – “To Do” and “Done.” Simple as that.



3. Back up your devices.

Save yourself the heart-stopping disaster that is returning from a long relaxing holiday to find that your computer won’t start, and all of your files are lost. If your company doesn’t have a protocol for automatic backups, make sure you take the time to do it yourself on the server, an external hard drive or USB drive (which is a good idea if you might end up doing some work on days off anyways).

Same goes for backing up your smartphone and tablet (and your work smartphone and tablet, if you’re a multiple device-carrier).

Think of the shame of losing all those selfies. Oh yeah, and the important stuff. One caveat: Make sure company policy doesn’t prohibit you from copying files or taking documents home.

4. Get your schedule together.

Being out of the office for a week or more can lead to that disorienting experience where you return and wonder: What was I supposed to do next? A lot of people make a New Year’s resolution to get organized or be better at time management. At work that means choosing a calendar app for your computer, phone or both that you’ll stick with and scheduling recurring annual projects, January to-do’s and weekly meetings before the ball drops. I’m a fan of the standard Google calendar, where I can label and share events with different work teams and sync my phone and computer, but there are lots of other calendar options out there for Android, Apple, Mac and PC.

5. Start mapping your grand plans.

You have the momentum, now, during the most festive time of the year; don’t lose it! Mind-mapping is a fun and visual way to brainstorm and plan for all those 2016 goals. For content producers, it’s a way to storyboard a long feature. For salespeople, create maps of how your contacts are connected or where prospects fit into the picture. No matter the project, it helps to organize your thoughts. Again there a lot of mind-mapping apps out there (I like Scrapple) or you could use an organization tool like Trello, which is current go-to for obsessively creating to-do lists and boards of ideas.


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