Six things to do at work during Twixmas
For those lucky enough to have time booked off, the days between Christmas and the New Year are often spent on the couch, watching endless hours of Netflix, and finishing off Christmas leftovers.
Many people, however, will either be back in the office or at their home-based desks for three days this December, attempting to work during the notoriously unproductive ‘Twixmas’ period, and counting down the hours until another few days of annual leave.
But rather than waiting until 2024 to get back into work mode, there are small, digestible steps you can take advantage of during this quiet working period that will help make the first week of January less of a shock to the system, and help you get a head start on any work goals you have for the year ahead.
Six things to do at work during Twixmas
In this article, Rachael Rothwell, People and Culture Manager at digital PR agency JBH, shares five things you can do to make productive use of the quietest business period of the year.
1) Email admin
When it comes to sifting through spam emails, filtering unread or unresponded messages, and keeping tabs on follow-up conversations, keeping on top of a busy email inbox can often feel like a full-time job in itself.
The quiet festive period, when a large portion of emails being sent will no doubt be automated ‘Out Of Office’ replies, offers the perfect opportunity to give your inbox an overhaul and install some new processes that could help to streamline your approach to email comms for January and beyond.
Start by addressing any unread emails and reduce your inbox to as close to 0 as possible. Delete and unsubscribe from any newsletters, websites, or marketing emails that you’ve been meaning to, and consider setting up separate “immediate’ and ‘waiting’ folders to assign emails to based on urgency, whether they require you to directly follow-up, or whether you need others to action something before you can respond.
2) Clear out your desktop and online folders
For those feeling time stretched, it can be all too easy to save digital files across a whole host of random folders with ambiguous file names, that are then impossible to find the next time you need access to them.
Make a plan of what you urgently need to organize, and create a system that will work for you, and that you will realistically be able to keep on top of once work starts to ramp up again in the new year.
Everyone will have a different way of storing their files, but the ultimate goal should be to rid yourself of any stray files, and turn your personal or shared drives into a digital file cabinet full of folders and sub-folders where everything you could possibly need in the future is saved for easy access.
Taking some of the time between Christmas and New Year to revamp your digital filing system and messy desktop once and for all, will be beneficial for returning to work in January. It will also help minimize the amount of time currently wasted on searching for files, documents, images, and downloads that aren’t currently organized.
3) Update tools and subscriptions
If part of your responsibilities at work focus on the monitoring or updating of different tools or subscriptions that assist staff in carrying out day-to-day tasks, the end of the year is a great time to undertake a topline audit of what is, or isn’t, working.
Use the quiet period to assess what paid-for systems are still working well, if there are any issues with tools that you can aim to fix or look into alternatives for, and identify if you can make any financial savings by canceling any costly services that are not being used for their intended purpose.
4) Plan out goals and objectives for the year ahead
Taking time during Twixmas to take a step back and look at what you want to work towards gradually over the next 12 months, is another effective use of the three Twixmas days.
Rather than taking a reactive approach to work and dealing with each urgent problem, task or email as soon as you’re faced with it, being less in demand due to the time of the year should give you some more space to plan out a realistic set of personal career and/or business goals that you’d like to prioritize in the year ahead.
It will also provide you with the time to plan out how you are going to be able to complete them, alongside your other work responsibilities.
5) Use the time to focus on your workplace wellbeing
Wellbeing within the workplace is a hot topic at present, and it’s worth reminding yourself – especially during the notoriously stressful and overwhelming festive period – that mental health is just as important as physical health, and is not something that should be ignored or addressed in a reactive-only manner.
Bearing this in mind, try using Twixmas to identify any issues of concern where you can take the required steps to improve your wellbeing from a work stance. Perhaps you want to ensure that you are taking more regular breaks, or a full hour for lunch away from your computer screen each day? Maybe you want to reduce how often you check emails and work messages during evenings, weekends, and annual leave?
Working from home over the festive period may also have caused you to realize that you want to embrace a different way of working, to increase your productivity and happiness at work. You can therefore also use Twixmas to plan out any requests for switching to a hybrid or remote-based role, or for shifting your hours of work around, in order to benefit from a more flexible work/life balance.
6) Take the opportunity to get to know your co-workers better
Friendships, and being able to engage in sociable interactions with colleagues across all levels and departments of a business, are important. In fact, Gallup research revealed that agreement with the statement “I have a best friend at work” is a strong predictor of whether you are likely to stay in a job long term.
Full-time workers typically spend more hours per week communicating or spending time with colleagues than with their friends or family members. It’s also hugely beneficial and rewarding to share work experiences – whether good or bad – with those who understand your role and can offer advice and impart their own wisdom, guidance or advice on a matter.
Taking this on board, one productive way to make the most of Twixmas is to build upon existing social bonds with teams and colleagues also working the three days. This could be through collaborating together on new projects or ad-hoc tasks during the quieter festive period, spending lunchtime together discussing interests and passions that don’t relate to your place of work, or simply taking the time during a work break to ask them how their Christmas was, and how they plan to spend New Year’s Eve.