Happy New Year!
Even though the New Year is ultimately an arbitrary construct, it is nevertheless customary to take the opportunity to reflect on the past year and plan for the next one. More practically, of course, there are certain business related items (especially concerning taxes) that need to be handled in a certain calendar year, so getting those tasks completed before the end of the year is important.
In our case, we officially take two weeks off around the holidays, especially since very little work tends to get done anyway, other businesses are often running with skeleton crews (or closed entirely), and most of us would rather focus on family during this time, anyway. However, we still have things to get completed by year end, so leading up to the break, we have a major project meeting (before two weeks without any) and determine which items have to be finished before the break, or during it in the worst case. Last year (i.e., a couple weeks ago) we were able to determine that certain “capital improvements” were better deferred until 2011, so this year will begin with some disruptions targeted toward better efficiency in the near future.
For my personal task management, I added to the list all of my recurring items (some of which include general categories, such as ‘development’ or ‘marketing’) and methodically eliminated each item by assuring that everything necessary was finished before taking my break. Alas, one particular (and important) item on my task list actually became two separate items with 2010 deadlines, so my break only encompassed hours, rather than days, of last year.
As the new year begins, on this first business day, I repeated the same process of starting my task list with all of my recurring items (plus deferred tasks), except this time I review each one to make certain that the foundational aspects are handled and to consider any procedural changes for the upcoming year (including delegating or completely eliminating a task). I am still officially on a break for another week, so I am (personally) using that time to prepare my work environment physically, organizationally, and mentally, for substantially increased development efficiency when I return.
Of course, these are just the tasks that are performed to pursue our ultimate goals. We also have planned and established a set of goals for 2011, which these tasks are designed to serve, but that will be the subject of my next post.