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5 Smart Ways to Use Holiday Downtime

With these five tips, you can make the most of the holidays to prepare you for the coming year.
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I've come to accept that very little business, aside from retail, gets done from Thanksgiving to January 3. After a few years of chasing people who were party bouncing or traveling, I decided to simply disconnect in December. In 2009, a month in London helped me flesh out a new book concept. Last year, a month spent in Vietnam was an eye-opening cultural learning experience. (It was fairly eye opening for my new Vietnamese in-laws as well.)

Whether you are going to cruise the party scene, manage the buying rush, or simply disconnect, there is no reason you have to let the holidays be less than productive for your business and career. I have personally found a combination of engagement and distance works best for me. Here are the five Rs I will follow this year to maximize the potential of my holiday activities.

1. Reconnect

This is a great time to reach out and make contact with important people you haven't spoken to in a while. Send them a holiday wish or e-card to remind them why they are important to you. Better yet, as long as you are in the holiday mode, get a small gathering of friends together for a little holiday cheer. No need for a big party. Keep it to a few people with whom you really want to spend some quality time. Even if they can't work you into their party schedule, you'll be fresh in their minds to connect in 2013.

2. Reflect

With New Year's around the corner, this is the best chance to look back on the year and think about what you've learned and what's left to resolve. Make a list of your five greatest accomplishments for 2012 and identify any patterns in your behavior that led to the success. For more learning, list five failures from the year and identify behavior patterns you can improve to make for a better 2013.

3. Reposition

It's a good chance to start anew with how you are presenting yourself in the business community. Take a detailed assessment of your website, your marketing materials, your Facebook page, your YouTube page, and especially your LinkedIn profile. Make sure these broadcasting tools present you and your company in a truthful, positive, and up-to-date manner. Make sure what you are projecting is consistent with your values and goals for the future. Make sure your message to the public is clear and compelling for 2013.

4. Recruit

Now is your best opportunity to find those people who will help you soar in 2013. Whether you are seeking new connections, employees, mentors, or partners, the holiday season is timely for beginning those conversations. Many people are reassessing their year and thinking about what's ahead, and the generous, festive atmosphere makes them more open to ideas they wouldn't normally consider. Keep your eyes and ears open at parties and gatherings for those who can help on your journey, and make contact.

5. Relax

Even though you may have extracurricular activity or year-end filings or a retail rush, most of you will still have several days of pure business downtime, much of it from December 21 to January 3. Take advantage of the frequent slow-call days, half-days, and long weekends to rest, regenerate, and recharge. Spend quality family time or alone time to get ready for the year ahead. The first quarter can be the most focused and productive, particularly in cold-weather areas. Start January feeling strong, positive, and raring to achieve your preferred future.

I hope these tips serve you well to make for a spectacular 2013. If I can help you in your journey, send me an email, and we can share some holiday cheer and truth any time of year in Manhattan. Happy holidays.

Last updated: Nov 27, 2012

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York. Sign up here and never miss out on Kevin's thoughts and humor.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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