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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Productivity

4 Productive Things to Do When You're Stuck at the Office Over the Holidays

Christmas tree and computer

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a slow time for almost every industry—even the non-stop world of nonprofits.

So if you used up all your vacation time earlier in the year (or the office just needs someone to cover the phones), you may be dreading the boredom that awaits during that lonely week. But since you’ll be in the office anyway, there’s no reason to waste your time checking Facebook or reorganizing the paper clips.

This time is the perfect opportunity to set yourself up for success in 2019. Here’s how.

1. Audit Your Files

If you are in the finance or grants department, you should be gearing up for your annual audit (required by law for all nonprofit organizations), so this is a good chance to get a good head start on your files. Your auditor is going to request documentation of all restricted donations and fundraising event information, so make sure you have copies of all your grant letters, donor acknowledgements, and checks. Setting up everything early for your auditors will make the process much less painful.

Even if the audit isn’t in your domain, you probably have piles of other information that need sorting (or dumping). Clean out your inbox, file cabinets, and desk drawers to start fresh in the new year.

2. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate

As you go through all your files, you’ll see evidence of all that you achieved over the past year. Don’t let it slide by or find its way into the trash—take some time to analyze those results, both organizationally and personally.

Whether your organization has an established performance evaluation process or not, now is the time to think about what you did well in the past 12 months and what needs further refinement. Stay ahead of the curve (and your boss), by compiling that information into a brief summary report describing your success and suggestions for improvement.

When everyone returns to the office, present it to the powers that be. You’ll earn brownie points for being proactive, which might mean that you’ll actually get the resources to implement your changes.

3. Brainstorm

For once, you have the leisure to think. In an industry that rarely gets a chance to catch its breath, you now have a few days to put aside what needs to be done and think about what can be done.

I love to start the year with a list of crazy ideas that I’d like to implement sometime in the future. Sometimes it’s as practical as working on a more comprehensive database; other times it’s a fun event idea (Mariah Carey-oke competition, anyone?). Keep your creative juices flowing—you never know when that crazy idea will take hold and pay off.

4. Have a Beyoncé Dance Party

Oh c’mon, I’m not going to make you work hard all week! Nothing brings back the appreciation for your work like taking some time to actually have fun.

Even Queen Bey herself sometimes just lets loose and has a good time shaking it. (Just keep it relatively toned down while you’re at the office, okay?) If dancing isn’t your jam, maybe try redecorating your desk area or find some time on the calendar to schedule a social event for the other staff stuck at the office.

If you follow the suggestions above, your last week of this year will help ease the pain of the first week of the next year. Once everyone is back in the office and deadlines start appearing on your calendar, you’ll be glad that you used this time wisely.