All of us face the turning of the year with a renewed sense of purpose.  The first of January signals your annual option for a fresh start.  You’ve just recharged your batteries with a few days off spent frolicking in the snow, sipping cocoa, catching up on reading, and making quality time for the family.  Now it’s time to attack your work (and your life) with vigor.  You need to start by taking a long, hard look at your shortcomings from the past year if you want to decide what needs to change.  Likely you already have a pretty good idea which areas need work, but here are a few suggestions to get you heading in the right direction.

1.       Work in a workout.  Between deadlines for your business and the business of running a household, you likely have very little time for yourself.  But if you want to remain healthy and active, you’re going to have to make some time with the treadmill.  Most doctors recommend that adults get a minimum of 30 minutes exercise 3-4 times per week.  By committing to set your alarm clock half an hour early, you can easily squeeze this in.  You’ll not only get used to the routine fairly quickly, you’ll also start feeling really good about yourself in no time (and probably find that you have more energy and sleep better, to boot).

2.       Separation of time and space.  Life can get muddled when your office space resides in your home.  There is likely spillover of work stuff into other areas (living room, bedroom, etc.) and while a flexible schedule is nice, it can often mean that you’re juggling kids and clients simultaneously (without giving either your full attention).  While some amount of cross-pollination is unavoidable, make every effort to keep your business and private life separate.  This way you can give 100% of your attention to your client (to ensure the best product or service), your spouse (prohibiting work in the bedroom can leave you free to focus on other things), or your kids (they can definitely tell when you’re only half there).

3.       Organize and stress less.  The holiday rush has likely left a tornado-worthy mess in your office, and believe it or not, this type of clutter can lead to an increase in stress levels.  When your physical space is neat and organized, your brain will follow suit.  So make your first order of business a day of cleaning and organizing before you get back to the grind.

4.       Prep for taxes.  You know they’re coming and yet, somehow, April 15th catches you by surprise every year.  Plan ahead by penciling in prep days on your calendar.  If it’s on the schedule, you should have no problem getting all your paperwork in order well before D-day (or T-day, as the tax-savvy might call it).

5.       Follow up.  Since the beginning of the year is a slow period for most businesses, take the time to follow up with new leads, repeat clients, and people you haven’t touched base with in awhile.  This type of personal attention could land you a paycheck while others in your field are floundering for the next month, waiting for businesses to regroup and get some projects on cue.

Jennifer Kardish writes for All Area Codes where you can easily locate area codes for all cities and states and even browse through the reverse phone directory.

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