Wrap it up and put a bow on it

How to close out your year with a bang, not a whimper.

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It is December.  You are running out of time to get things done this year.  You are probably engaged in a flurry of activities to wrap things up in advance of all your non-IT counterparts scattering to the winds for the holidays.  So, in about two weeks, you and your IT team are going to be able to take a breath.  I hope.

If you find yourself in that situation, there are probably a thousand things you can do.  Here are my ideas for what to do during this brief respite:

You can be like your colleagues and take some time off.  Read a book for pleasure.  Take a hike (the good kind of hike, that is).  Make snow angels.  Dip your toes in the ocean.  Do something you have not done before.  Obviously, you will have to coordinate so there is critical mass of support available, but go ahead and relax and start January recharged.  Especially if you are in a "use it or lose it" vacation/PTO model, consider using it!

You can learn something new.  You don't have to fly off to a formal training class to tackle that new technology or skill you wanted to develop.  All the better if you have some training dollars left in the budget, but there is so much good training publicly available that there is no excuse not to learn something.  Look for special, "First lesson free" options and then see if you can spend your 2018 training budget for the next lessons.  Be careful if you spend money as Finance may close the books early and you don't want to inadvertently spend next year's money.

You can teach someone something new.  Organize a lunch and learn session for you and your team and swap skills.  Host a chalk talk on something you are passionate about.  Engage someone new in a problem-solving discussion that you would otherwise do yourself or have the same old gang around.  If you have to be at work, share the love, and not the pain.

You can document what you've done this year.  Keeping your documentation and your methods up-to-date will help get you over the hump during the busy periods that are sure to come next year.  It is always better to write things down (or write things up?) when you are not in the middle of trying to figure out what in the world to do.  There will never be a better time than now!

You can celebrate your successes.  Acknowledge the hard work done over the last year and all the good things that you and your team accomplished.  Walk around and say thank you to people.  Send a nice email to someone who helped you out.  Get the team together.  Donuts and coffee or pizza is optional, but a nice idea.

If you are sprinting to an end-of-year deadline and don't have time to do any of the above, don't forget that you can always relax, learn, teach, document, or celebrate in January as well.  You might also be able to do a little horse-trading with your boss and swap a week of December vacation for a week of January vacation.  It can't hurt to ask!

Enjoy the rest of the year.

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