Happy New Year everyone, and welcome back to work. As soon as I’m back from the summer break, I always like to clear the way for what I hope will be a productive year ahead. In other words, I move from ‘end of holiday confusion’ to ‘start of year clarity’.
To achieve this clarity, I believe it’s important to do the following:
Get your head clear
My fuzzy, holiday-head is always full of things I could or should do. If I want to start the year in a focused way, I need to clear out this mind clutter. So, I always take some time to do a ‘mind dump’. I take all these thoughts, possibilities and ideas and make sure they are captured somewhere other than in my head. Some might end up being scheduled or tasked. Others I will include in start-of-year discussions with the team. I always feel lighter for it, especially the stuff I need to discuss with my team.
So, if you’re back at work and feel you’ve waded into where you left off, it might be worth taking some time out to do your own mind dump.
Get your Inbox clear
This is crucial at the start of the year. Don’t carry over clutter from last year into this year. Be ruthless with your inbox and get it to zero for the first time in 2018.
Consider archiving anything in your inbox that’s pre-December. Let’s face it, if it’s still there you’ve probably done it, it never needed action in the first place, or it’s gone way past its use-by date. Move on with your life and clear it all in one fell swoop. Then take what’s left and process down more thoughtfully, taking any important emails and turning them into tasks or blocked out time in your calendar.
Getting your Inbox to zero at the start of the year will also give you some insight into what other people are expecting you to do. When you are clear about this, you can start to plan how and when you are going to deliver on these requests.
Get your priorities clear
Finally, you need to get clear about your real priorities for the next few weeks, months or even the coming year. It’s not enough to fill up your schedule by clearing your inbox. The real value in this clearing activity lies in working out what priorities you need to focus on over the coming period. Your calendar and task list should be a balance between the reactive activities that have come to you, and the proactive important activities you have scheduled yourself.
2018 is going to be a busy year, no doubt. But whether it is a productive year is totally up to you. I know that starting the year with clarity rather than confusion is always a great start.