With ten days to go until the office is closed for the Christmas holiday, it’s the perfect time to check in so you can check out.  To get the most from your time off, you really have to be able to “unplug” for at least a day or two.  If you don’t, you might as well drag the Christmas tree into the office and keep working – you aren’t going to enjoy your time off and rejuvenate anyways!  Now, with about a week to go until Christmas, proactively check in so that when you leave for the holiday, you can truly check out and recharge your batteries.

Checking in is really simple – it goes like this:

1. Write down any loose “to do” running around in your head.  Don’t over think it – just jot what immediately comes to mind that “you absolutely have to do”.  Don’t worry about how to solve it, just capture it on paper.

2. Scan your calendar for the first three weeks of January.  Write down any appointments you have that requires you to prepare something for it.

3. Think of any major projects you are partnering in – these might be other attorneys or organizations you are collaborating with, boards you serve on, etc. – write them down.

4. Write down anything you routinely provide content for – columns, articles, blogs, etc.

5. Write down the name of your biggest clients.

6. Write down the name of each employee you have.

7. Write down the name of each person in your family.

8. Go over your calendar and find available time and block it off as “white time”.  This is time to finish these items up and complete the things that will fall out of your “checking in”.  Don’t panic!  You aren’t creating work to do; you are simply identifying things you already promised and making sure you fulfill them!  Better to plan on finding the time now, than realize you missed something on the way out the door Christmas Eve and stay up until midnight trying to finish it up.

Now, for any person or organization you wrote down – simply “check in”.  Send a quick email or phone call and ask them “is there anything you need from me before January 1”?  Note, this doesn’t mean you are giving them permission to come up with new things for you to do.  It is simply checking in to make sure you are on the same page regarding promised items or commitments you have made.  No one can have a fun, relaxing vacation if they wake up at 2 a.m. panicking that they just totally dropped the ball on a colleague.  If new things come up, capture them and schedule time to talk after the New Year regarding new projects.  Remember, this includes family!  Check in with them to see what they need from you to make it a great holiday.

For projects or content you’ve promised people, use your “white time” to complete these items before you “check out” for the holiday. 

This simple, proactive step not only allows you to check out without feeling guilty or panicked, but shows your commitment and accountability to those you work with.

To a relaxing, rejuvenating holiday,

Molly and Laney