Insignificant Dates & Human Work Patterns

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Last week of 2010. Things are slow, nobody is working, there is snow outside, it’s a week after Christmas and.. I dunno, insert your excuse for not wanting to work but this is possibly the only week on the calendar when that kind of attitude is acceptable.  “It’s Christmas, It’s New Years, It’s time you should spend with family!” Yeah, that argument only flies if you actively try to avoid your family 51 weeks of the year. 

But here is a little secret to the last week of December.

While seemingly everyone is slowing down, the important people in business are working harder than ever. They are enjoying their disruption free days where they can go over plans, close the quarter, review budgets and get some last minute things done to make it a successful year.

Here is the reality that is hard to swallow for many:

Winners count days till 2011.

Losers count days left in 2010.

It’s a slight difference. One group is trying to get as much time in 2010 to get things done while the other group is counting down the days, minutes and seconds left in 2010 like they are serving a prison sentence.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret..

You know all those people that you couldn’t reach the entire year – because they are busy working? Or on vacations? Yeah, those folks are in the office right now. Nobody dares run a marketing campaign the last half of December – not because they don’t think they’ll reach the boss but because they know that the secretary is out.

Consider this fact: My phone rings more during the last week of December than it does during the entire remainder of the month.


Well, because the first few weeks are spent on getting things together, cleaning things up, office parties, festivities, etc. You know what happens in January – taxes, audits, new processes, new forms and yes – fulfillment of what was sold the last week of December.

So if people had social obligations leading up to Christmas and they need to get deals done in tax year 2010, when are they going to make those deals? Forget about January, that’s a year away. Now is the time to pick up the phone and make that call. Think things are slow now and you can’t reach anyone – wait till January comes around and everyone is stuck in day long meetings, policy changes, new systems and other technical problems that come up after the holidays.

January 1st, 2011, New Years Resolutions, etc… they only matter to the IRS. And you can bet they are working overtime. Here is a little illustration of everything that’s wrong with the American work ethic, stolen from LifeHacker:

12-28-2010 3-20-13 PM

Let me break it down for you – 2 out of 5 workers don’t like their jobs. So when there is an opportunity to slack, you can count on them not to show up for work. They’ll be back next week – along with everyone else – wondering why they aren’t given more money / control / responsibility.

You don’t set yourself apart being marginally better than all the other lemmings. You set yourself apart by doing stuff that nobody else is doing. You don’t just get money / control / responsibility – you earn it by showing people you work for that they can trust you with it because you’ll work as hard as they have to give you your job.

Look, everyone wants to be the boss. Except me. I’d rather lay on the couch naked watching pr0n and eating M&Ms. You want their job? Find out what they are doing and do it better.