5 Days to Go - Make them Count
Only 5 days left before you head off on your much deserved holiday! I have given you 5-days worth of tips today so that you can plan ahead and switch things up depending on your work load.
MON – Get Ready for Post-Holiday Amnesia
The purpose of these posts is to get you all set for a completely relaxing holiday and (ideally) a digital detox.
So let’s fast forward to January, you are blissed out from your holiday, staring at your laptop screen and you can’t for the life of you remember what your password is!!
We’ve all been there – those passwords that we type in automatically when we are using a particular program every day seem to get erased from our brains when we stop using them for a while.
Today you are going to store your passwords somewhere secure.
Your browser gives you the option of remembering passwords but if you are not using this then you need an alternative. Some apps to consider are Dashlane, Passpack, 1Password or LastPass.
It shouldn’t take you long to set up today and will prevent a post-holiday melt down come January.
TUES – Tidy Desk(top)
How are you feeling today? A little fragile? There are bound to be days during the silly season when we may be feeling a little less than fresh after indulging in too much of the festive spirit. On days like these I search for simple, mindless tasks which still give me a sense that I have achieved something rather than wasting the whole day eating hot chips and drinking Diet Coke.
Filing away documents and emails is one of those tasks. That mouse “click and drag” motion is a bit like playing solitaire (what we did to relieve boredom at work in the olden days before we had the internet).
Everyone has a file set up that works best for them. At a minimum you should have separate folders for the various “Departments” within your business. How you file within those folders should match how your mind works - here are some suggestions:
* File by client/supplier/person
* File by project
* File by month
* File completed work separate to ongoing work
* Make friends with the delete button – do you really need every to keep every draft of that presentation or every email in the email chain?
Crank up some tunes or listen to a podcast or two and smash this out before the end of the day. You will marvel at your beautiful, organised desktop and won’t come back to a mess in January.
WED – Back Up
You are one of those model citizens who has systems in place to ensure all your data is backed up on a regular basis aren’t you?
Of course you are, we all are (cough, cough)
No matter whether your back up procedures are in place or not, today is the day you are going to back up everything to an external hard drive.
“Oh, I store everything on Dropbox” you say. Not the same thing. While cloud storage services have been life changing for small business owners in so many ways, they are not a completely failsafe back up method and should not be used as your main (or only!) option.
Backing up all of your precious files to a hard drive and storing it securely is essential. Think of it as an extra layer of protection against files accidentally getting deleted, corrupted or your entire system ending up with a virus.
Set the back up to run then use the time to do some off-line jobs. Better still, go out for a lunch or finish some Christmas shopping.
Back up everything on your phone and tablet too. Do you know how many i-pads get left on planes? Or phones misplaced while their owners are out enjoying some Christmas cheer?
And please keep your devices and the back-up system in separate locations - not together in the same laptop bag. Two weeks ago one of my dear friends had a nasty surprise when she returned to her car after a night out to discover her laptop bag stolen. It contained not only her relatively new Macbook but the hard drive she had ALL her data backed up to. True story. Don’t let it happen to you.
THURS – Turn off notifications
Yes, I know there is still one more work day before Christmas but I am warming you up and easing you into your digital break.
Before you switch off completely tomorrow, prepare today by turning off notifications on your phone. The world will not stop turning but you (and your loved ones) will enjoy the serenity that the lack of pings, peeps and buzzes brings.
Do this from the Notifications setting on your phone. For a total digital break I recommend turning off notifications for all apps but if you can’t bring yourself to do that then at the very least switch off notifications for your email, LinkedIn and any other purely work related apps.
While you are at it have a quick scroll through your Reminders and Calendar for the period of your holiday. Do you have any event alarms that can be turned-off?
And don’t forget about your i-pad or any other devices you have linked to your accounts.
FRI- Turn on your email Out of Office response
If you have been following along then today should be relatively calm. Today should be a day to tie up any loose ends, clear your desk, file away those last emails and documents while rocking out to some Christmas tunes. The final thing to do before you shut down your computer is turn on your email Out of Office response.
Here is a quick how to for Gmail users (I love how they call it your “vacation responder”)
Instructions for Outlook users are here
When crafting your response, remember that it is coming from you so it should convey your brand and personality. Important points to include are:
· The date you will be away until (make sure this coincides with the dates you have selected in the date range for your message, it’s not a good look for your out of office response to continue to go out after the date your message says you will be back at work).
· The frequency that you will be checking your emails – or not! Don’t feel bad about saying that you will not be contactable, especially if you have already notified your clients that you are going away.
· Action you or your sender should take – you can tell the sender you will respond to them on your return to work or you could ask the sender to resend their request then. This is a very smart way of putting the ball back into the senders’ court and saves you reading through a mountain of requests in January. If it is important, they will resend.
· Any festive/holiday message.
Now turn off your computer, go and join your friends, family or co-workers for a large glass of something sparkling – you are done for the year!!!! It’s time for your well-earned break.