By Neen James

The crazy holiday season… why does it make our hearts beat faster knowing we have so much more “to do” and so little time to achieve it all? Why is it we both love and hate this time of year? We place high expectations on ourselves and others during the holiday season, however, there are ways to be more productive during this hectic season.
The holiday season is not the time to slow down your business development activities or stop networking because we still have budgets, goals and targets to achieve.  How do you handle the “unproductive” attitude the holiday season brings? How can you juggle vacation schedules? Historically, the holiday season may have been a time for you to take it easy, do the minimum amount of activity while you focus on what you will achieve for next year…not this year! Decide to make this your most productive holiday season ever, here are some strategies that will help you do that and continually grow your business and set up a productive 2010.

Make 2010 your best year yet. Book a two-hour appointment with yourself to begin planning for next year to include potential new clients, cases and support staff development activities. Determine what you need to achieve to make 2010 your best year yet. This business plan should not be collecting dust in your bottom desk drawer — it is a living document to be used as a guide for you and your team.

Review your marketing plan. Invest the time and resources in creating a customized plan for your book of business. If you are a one-attorney firm, ask colleagues and people you trust to brainstorm ideas with you. If you have a large firm, ask clients, staff and colleagues what marketing activities will be effective for your business.  If you created a marketing plan for this year, review your progress to date and determine what strategies will be effective again for 2010. 

Conduct focus groups. Invite a select number of key clients to your office and ask them about your firm, their expectations and experiences, and how you can better serve them. Collate the results and seek your team’s input on how to action them.

Conduct a six-month business review. Spend two hours reviewing your firm’s achievements for the past six months. Ask yourself these 11 questions:

1.   How would I rate the past six months’ performance (1-10 with 10 being the highest)?

2.   Did I achieve my financial targets/billable hours each month?

3.   If not, why not?

4.   If not, what do I need to do differently in the next six months to meet my annual plan?

5.   If I did meet these targets (congratulations to you), were they big enough?

6.   Have I conducted staff reviews with my team? When? If not, why not?

7.   If so, have I rewarded my team adequately?

8.   Do I need to invest more in my team or personal development?

9.   Is my marketing plan on track? If not, why not?

10.  If not, what activities do I need to conduct to implement more marketing strategies?

11.  Have I done sufficient business development to grow my book of business or my connections? If not, why not?

When you have completed these questions, create a series of tasks, actions or projects to implement some of your strategies to help you really achieve all your targets for the next six months.

Clean up. You have heard of a spring clean, well this is a winter clean. This clean out could include:

v   Clearing, deleting or filing those read e-mails in your inbox.

v   Unsubscribing from all those newsletters that you don’t read.

v   Allocating one hour to get your paper filing up to date (if you have more than one hour’s worth, do 15 minutes per week until it is all complete).

v   Throwing out unwanted, unread journals that you have been “meaning” to read, but haven’t and won’t.

v   Reviewing your “tasks” on your to-do list or in your Outlook file and removing those tasks that simply won’t be completed.

v   Entering details into your contact management system of the business card pile that is gathering dust on your desk.

v   Spending 15 minutes cleaning the top of your desk, removing unnecessary stationery, putting away files, cleaning the dust off your family photo, throwing away empty water bottles and wiping down your computer keyboard and screen. A clean and clear desk will help you be more productive any time of year.

We do need to be mindful of the seasons but don’t slow down in holidays – get more productive. Use this time to get a head start on all those 2010 meetings you can conduct when people return from vacation, ensure plans are in place to achieve your results and tidy your work environment so you are not distracted by clutter. Embrace the cooler weather for indoor meetings and events and enjoy all that the holiday season can bring for your business growth. Keep an eye out next week for more ideas on how to be productive during the holidays.
Neen James, MBA, international productivity expert specializes in making leaders and organizations more productive. Subscribe to Neen’s Monthly Productivity Ezine – strategies to boost your productivity and profits at

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