Once all the holiday decorations are taken down and put away in the office, the spot where the Christmas tree stood in the entryway seems oddly bare. The lights from the menorah are missing, and while the poinsettia on the reception desk is still lovely, it’s the last holdout in a cleared office. At EFA, we really enjoy decorating for the holidays, with maybe more gold glitter than we should, but we all come together and share our time and laughter and warm fuzzies. In January, everything is neatly packed away to wait for next year…and suddenly, the walls look empty.

Logically, this is silly. For ten and a half out of twelve months a year, this is how the office looks. We have classy, framed photos up on the walls. Each office has personal touches from whichever team member spends their work hours in that space. Obviously, in November before it all starts, the office looked just like this. This is a return to status quo. Why does it temporarily feel incomplete without all the sparklies?

Energetically, however, the office feels good. A burst of new energy always comes from the new year, an arbitrary but legitimate time marker to be ready to start new things, catch up with some things that maybe fell behind, and explore what can be found this year. Outside, the snow has piled up, and the temperatures hover in the low teens. It’s strange to get excited when the temperature gets above 20 degrees, but here we are, Rochester in February. The cold outside keeps us inside, apart from those who are excited to risk life and limb on the ski slopes…and the times we need to head outside, shovel in hand, to tackle the snowdrifts that used to be driveways.

While I miss the summer sun, of course, the time inside can definitely be fruitful as well. The new projects that were ideas at the end of last year are now in the stages of real work getting done, items on checklists that can be checked off as the projects move from dream to reality. This cold frozen part of the year is less incubation time than work time, interior work time. This is the time to dig in to get the roots of a project going, to plot out the rest of its growth, and prepare to tend it for the rest of the year until it blooms. Sort of like the bulbs you’re supposed to plant in the fall when everything else is still and ready to sleep.

It’s not just about New Year’s resolutions but about building new habits. Same thing applies here. Before it becomes natural to get up and work out every morning, there comes that January work of not wanting to get up early but doing it anyway so that by May it’s as natural as anything else. The thaw can reveal all sorts of things.

For those of you in more moderate climates, there’s still a chill in the air and that post-holiday stillness. Don’t be afraid to set your heels and dig into it. This is the time to put down roots that’ll let you bloom in the months to come.

So what does this mean, practically? Take a look at the things you’re doing and then contemplate what you’d like to be doing. This can be a good time to examine processes and do away with the idea that you’re doing things a certain way just because that’s the way you’ve been doing them.

When looking at processes, take technology into consideration. Are you using technology that makes sense for your office? Do you understand the technology you’re using so that you’re getting the most out of it? Is the technology you’re using outdated and in need of an update to make sure it’s still serving your needs?

Look at the way you schedule your days. Are you working at the times you’re most productive? Is there a way to better structure your day so that you can balance administration and client meetings? Do you give yourself time to continue your growth as a professional through webinars, reading, and networking with other professionals? Is there a skill you wish you had that would enhance your practice that you could begin to learn now?

Even small things might have time to get fixed right now. Have you cleaned out that filing cabinet in the last three years? Do all the pens in your desk drawer work? Is it time to paint the office another color (sage green is nice, or a dusty sort of blue)?

None of these things has to happen overnight, and ideally, they won’t. This is the time to make plans and get things moving so that by the time there are leaves on the trees, you’re already in motion with a solid foundation. Use whatever helps, whether it’s a planning app, a paper day planner, lists of items you can gleefully check off, or a partner who will keep you accountable to you. Whatever works (and it could take a few tries to find what does), get it started and sink your roots down now, then look forward to what you’ll be producing come summer.

Mandy Szewczuk

More about the author: Mandy Szewczuk

Mandy works with advisors as the lead of Evolution Financial Advisor’s virtual assistant program and is part of the marketing and events team.