Beginning the New Year right

Walter P. Chrysler (1875–1940), American industrialist and founder of Chrysler Corp., said, “Our ship would come in much sooner if we’d swim out to meet it.”

It will soon be New Year’s Day, meaning it’s time to stop sitting on the dock waiting for the 2018 ship to come in.

Recently, several business friends and I were having our annual holiday dinner together and talking about extended plans for our companies for the coming year.

This holiday season has seen online sales flourish, while some brick-and-mortar companies have been challenged. This latter group thinks this could be a good time to redesign, re-engineer, and refresh the way their companies do business. All were in agreement that while it takes effort, going through this process now — using the experience of the past year to reflect on the progress that was made — makes it easier to plan how a business can grow and develop over the coming year. It just takes time to do this.

Steven Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People tells us to spend time during the workday on long-term planning, developing relationships, and training staff to take on delegated tasks. While my group of friends agrees with this theory, they also agree that it’s difficult to find the daily time to do this. Since there are always so many things to get done and projects that can take one away from our place of business, most business folks now have to depend on smartphones to help them be in the right place at the right time.

Time is one of the most important resources. And right now we may feel stretched for time, as the end of the year brings all kinds of pressures. Besides regular day-to-day tasks, there are year-end tasks that need to be completed. Add to all those things the evaluations of the past year’s progress and/or success and it’s enough to make you lose sleep. Some of us even have the added responsibility of making holiday plans for family and friends.

After this get together I decided to call on one of my time-management guru friends for some advice on how to feel more in control as the year end draws even closer.  Here are a few of this expert’s suggestions:

  • Be productive and proactive in scheduling for the weeks ahead. In the present, schedule daily paperwork time. Don’t waste important daily work time doing routine paperwork.
  • Do one thing at a time. This can be very hard for those who are used to multitasking; however, the guru says that work will be more enjoyable when this becomes a new habit. Experts say that doing one thing at a time — staying with a task until it’s completed — makes for a better success ratio than trying to juggle several things at a time. I always thought I was the queen of multitasking, but after really looking at this I now know that concentrating on one thing at a time sends me home at the end of the day with a greater feeling of accomplishment.
  • You have to know how you spend the workday. Keep track of what wastes time.
  • Take time at the beginning of each week, and each morning, to plan weekly and daily to-do lists. Consider what needs to be accomplished and what can be eliminated, not only for business, but for personal tasks, too.
  • Get down to business. Stop wasting the first part of the workday socializing with team members, getting coffee, reading unnecessary emails, etc. Jump right into having a productive, efficient workday.
  • Remember to take breaks. Even when you just want to get the job done, taking a short break can help you re-energize and keep your creativity and production flowing.
  • Make plans for to get together with other business folks around the New Year’s holiday. This kind of networking is great for problem solving, learning new methods, sharing ideas, and having fun.

My mother’s favorite mantra was, “It’s never too late to begin again!” We’re here at the end of the calendar year, and for some their fiscal year for business. What a great time to look for new opportunities, new challenges, and great new ways to begin again. Happy New Year!

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