Career Opportunities
A weekly ComputorEdge Column by Douglas E. Welch


January 2, 2004

Despite what some people might think, the New Year is not some magic wand that can wave away all the problems of the last year. Was it only so! Instead, the New Year is simply a demarcation, a line in the sands of time, a pointer that reminds us where we are in our lives. The usual problems will still be there awaiting our attention on January 2nd, but we can use the New Year as a gentle reminder to rededicate ourselves to our families and our careers.

Getting your house in order

So, today is January 2nd, the beginning of a whole new year. Where should you focus your attention today? One of my first steps each year is taking stock of where I am and what needs to be done. More than likely, you have lost yourself in the holiday season. You have focused more on joy and happiness than budgets and the “bottom line.” There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, I would say that it is important that you allow yourself that kind of break from the day-to-day realities of business. Now that we have had our respite, though, it is time to do a little thinking about where we have been and where we are headed.

Do you have any issues that have lingered over the last year? Too often, we spend most of our time fighting the day-to-day fires at the expense of more difficult and more damaging on-going problems. Is there a server that needs to be upgraded, a router that regularly crashes, a printer that jams every tenth page. These issues are destroying productivity, but are often ignored as more pressing work, that work that is “in your face”, garners your attention.

Start a list today of every single on-going issue, no matter how large or small. What might seem small to you could be a major priority to the person who has to deal with it every day. Putting these issues down on paper (or on screen) gets them out of your head and into a place where you can be reminded of them and manage them. This list will allow you to review these issues on a regular basis. Then whenever you have a few minutes in the schedule, a few minutes when your phone isn’t ringing and your email isn’t chiming, you can glance at this list and find one, small issue that you can complete in that amount of time. Without the list, you might spend your free moments trying to remember what needs to be done, instead of simply doing it.

You shouldn’t consider this list yet another burden on your mind. In fact, it is just the opposite. Since you are not trying to keep all these issues in your head, it frees up your thinking. Even if you can’t accomplish anything on the list right this moment, you know that it will still be there to remind you tomorrow and the next day. More importantly, you will find that maintaining a list like this is a sure way to complete some of these tasks. I find that every time I take a few moments to define my work, some of that work suddenly gets done. I think you will find it works the same for you.

Me, myself and I

The second part of this New Year’s review is personal. Too often, we throw ourselves back into the whirlwind of work without thinking about what we need in our own lives. Do you want to take some classes in art, music or other areas? Do you need to carve out more time in your schedule for your family? Do you need to look for a new job that makes you happier? Spend some time thinking about these ideas and creating some personal lists.

Feel free to dream a little. What would you “really” like to be doing at the end of this year? What would make you happiest in the long run? You may not reach your dreams this year, but it is important to strive for them. It is in this striving that you find the day-by-day improvements in your life.

The New Year has arrived with its reminders of success and failure past, but the time has come to look into the next year. What do you need to do to make this year better than last? Take some time, find a quiet place and do a little thinking. This could be the best investment of time that you make all year.