December is a great time to review things.
The month brings the end of another quarter and another year.
Setting time aside for review and reflection allows you to evaluate the past months and prepare for the next 12 months.
When most people think of an annual review, their mind turns to performance and results.
Of course, those things matter in work and business but they’re not the only measures of your year. There is a more holistic outlook.
You can choose to review whatever and however you like. To assist, here are some areas you may want to both reflect on and, where appropriate, act upon. In no particular order:
Timekeeping and Punctuality
How good are you at being on time for things? Appointments, meetings, zoom calls, trains, flights and so on.
If you work for yourself, do you start at a set time of day or does it vary? Are you a consistent riser or do you find it difficult getting out of bed some days? Freelance assistants can choose their start time, of course, but avoid getting into the habit of being ‘late’. Start when you say you’ll start.
If you’re with an organisation, your hours may be set for you. With hybrid working, you may have some days in the office, some at home. Or you may still be working remotely full-time.
Whatever your hours, it’s a good habit to keep to a routine that works for you.
It’s also a good idea to track your hours. It’s really easy, especially when you have your own business, to let work run into evenings and weekends.
As an assistant, you want to be productive. How much are you getting done each week or month?
When you look back at all the tasks you’ve carried out, has your time been full? If you’re a freelance, were there many blanks in your diary? Are you maxed out with clients or is there space for more?
It’s not just how much work you do that counts. If, say, the average week is 37 hours and you’re putting in 45 hours, does that mean you’ve got tons on your plate or does it mean tasks are taking longer than they probably should?
If uncertainty about how to carry out essential tasks using Microsoft Office and 365 is holding you back, it may be time to upgrade your skills with an online course.
Results and Value
The value of having a savvy assistant is often misunderstood or underestimated. Some bosses, colleagues and clients may know your worth. Others may not.
If you’re in an organisation, regular meetings or annual reviews are among the places where you can highlight performance. Star performers tend to get noticed. If you’re not being valued, there could be a conversation to be had.
Working for yourself? You may have to be more proactive in highlighting what you’ve done and are doing for clients. When you can demonstrate your true value, you can charge higher fees.
Testimonials and Case Studies
This may apply more if you’re an assistant who is freelance or running their own business.
If you’re doing great work for your clients, have you asked them for a testimonial or whether they would help you create a case study?
These are useful tools for ‘social proof’, to show prospective clients that you have a track record of success and a host of happy clients.
Income and Finances
Whether you’re an employee or freelance, money is important. It may not be your number one driver for what you do, but it helps to pay the bills, feed the kids and pays for that long-awaited break or holiday.
Salary and your business income are part of the equation. Who wouldn’t want more money coming in?
But what you really want to measure is your net income. That is, what you have left after your expenditure is considered.
Do you have more in your account at the end of the month than the previous month? If you’re running a freelance business, are you keeping an eye on the cash flow?
If all is looking rosy, how will you reward yourself? If it’s not looking so good, what will you do to turn things around in 2022?
So far, it’s been all about reviewing the business and work side of things. However, it’s important to think more holistically about how ‘successful’ your year has been.
Have you enjoyed the year?
Did you find time for fun? For hobbies and interests? For sport? For getting outdoors and into the fresh air?
You might know how many projects you’ve completed but how many laughs did you have?
Family and Friends
Another more holistic way of appreciating your year is to consider the quality of your connection with family and friends.
How often were you able to call, visit or chat with them? If you’ve got children, how much ‘quality time’ did you have together? Are there people you’ve not heard from in a while or lost touch with?
Family and friends can be a part of (and may be part of the reason for) your success. One might be your rock. One might be a great listener. One might be your biggest champion – almost like having a coach for free.
How will your connection to all these people be in 2022?
Health and Wellbeing
This is a big one. It goes hand in hand with the ‘fun’ section and the ‘family and friends’ section above.
Without our good health, what are we?
I know from personal experience just how much feeling under the weather can affect your ability to do work and perform at your best.
How well are you looking after your health? Physical and mental? What are you doing to stay well and what lessons can you learn from the past year?
The holistic angle to reviewing the year could ask you to consider your connection to the community.
Do you feel part of where you live? Are you involved with a local group, association, cause or charity?
Many people feel a need to ‘give back’ in some way, or even to ‘pay it forward’. That might be by supporting a charity with a monthly donation, volunteering or setting up your own local project.
Was that part of your year? Will it be part of your 2022?
Personal and Continuing Professional Development
Another aspect that can get overlooked during a year is your own personal and professional development.
The focus might have been so much on serving others that time was not set aside for you – and your own learning and skills.
Did you want to learn a new language? Play a musical instrument? Learn to bake or improve your cooking? Did you want to take up a new sport or hobby?
Or maybe for 2022 you’d prefer the 1:1 option to get personalised training on what will help you most.
And there you have it. A more holistic way to review your year. You can apply it to any quarter, too, if you like.
How was 2021 for you?
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