Preparing for a new year

  • 01-12-16
  • Geoff Balmer

When you take a holiday over the Christmas break, the last thing you’ll want is to be constantly having to deal with work-related matters while you’re away or come back to chaos after your time off.

These distractions can be as simple as your phone constantly buzzing during your holiday, feeling the need to attend to unfinished work prior to the New Year or even just returning to a desk full of clutter from the year before. Instead, you’ll want to come back after the New Year feeling refreshed and re-energised. So how can you accomplish this? Here’s our guide to the few key things you can do around the office, and on your holiday, to prepare yourself for a good start to 2020.


The toughest thing to do prior to leaving for the holiday break is to ensure the bulk of your work has been completed, with very few tasks carried over to the following year. If like most of us, you feel this is a near-impossible goal, the next best thing is to complete the things that are possible and then put together a clear handover plan for yourself. This may sound strange, but two or three weeks away from the office will inevitably lead to a number of tasks being forgotten or a lot of time spent trying to get back up to speed.

If you’ve got a plan on your desk on day one of 2020 then you’ll be able to get straight back into the swing of things. Whilst we’re on the subject, take the time to clear your desk of clutter prior to going away. This small effort will pay huge dividends when you return to a clear workspace in the New Year.

Lastly, before you leave the office, ensure your out-of-office message has an alternative point of contact listed and, if possible, that your mobile isn’t included. Otherwise, you’re just inviting interruptions.


Technology has made it harder to completely disconnect from work when away from the office than ever before. When you go on leave that’s exactly what you should do – have a well-deserved break with friends and family.

Naturally, however, it can be tempting to use the holiday period to get ahead on your work. If you can’t resist this temptation, then the best advice is to limit yourself each day to a set amount of time and try to stick to it.

Secondly, in order to properly recharge during your leave, it’s crucial to set communication boundaries when you’re away. Of course, there are those that can switch off their phones and completely disconnect but most of us need some form of communication, which increases the risk of being interrupted by work. Luckily, there are technology solutions to help with this situation. Our favourite is a slight modification to the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature on all iPhones. This works by adding people you want to hear from to your Favourites List and then allowing calls from this group. For example, you could adjust the settings to only hear from friends and family. In addition, you can avoid missing other urgent calls by adjusting your ‘Repeated Calls” settings. This automatically allows callers that call more than once in three minutes to get through.


If you happen to have some downtime over the holiday period, rather than focus on your work, why not use the time to upskill yourself? Depending on your area of focus, there are lots of ways to do this; the most simple of which is to spend time reading good books, or watching helpful YouTube videos or TED Talks. If you’re after something a little more formal, you could also investigate the broad range of online learning courses that now exist. Typical subjects that we see Accountants upskilling on in their own time include Management, Project Management, Leadership, Technology or even other areas of the accounting spectrum.

Whilst a quick search on Google will bring up plenty of online learning institutions and courses, it’s also great to find a good book.

The best thing about books is that you can take them along to your favourite beach and learn while you relax!


Preparing and planning ahead will enable you to start the New Year with a clear mind. Of course, primarily you should relax on your holiday, but you could also take the initiative to upskill yourself and improve on anything that you feel is important to reach your career goals for the New Year. Taking these practical steps means you can enjoy your holiday stress-free! Have a great Christmas break and we look forward to working with you in the New Year.

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