Hit Start on 2021: Your New Year Checklist (With A Downloadable Checklist!)
2020 turned the world upside down with the appearance of COVID-19. We found ourselves adjusting to a new way of life and spending more time indoors than out.
That being said, we managed to make it through the year – and with the recent news of the vaccine, the future is looking a lot brighter.
However, until then, we need to ensure we’re ready to start the new year with a bang – and here’s our checklist to ensure you’re ready to take on 2021 – no matter what surprises the year brings!
Clean and optimise your workspace
Sadly, the holiday season is over and it’s time to put away the festive decorations. With many parts of the country still under strict lockdown rules, you’ll likely be spending more time at home meaning you’ll also want to think about having an effective desk setup as you may continue to work from home.
The optimal workstation should ensure that you’re sitting at a good height (no hunching over your laptop!) and that you’re sitting 20-40 inches away from your monitor.
Also adhere to the 20/20/20 rule: for every 20 minutes you spend looking at your monitor, you should spend 20 minutes looking at something 20 feet away from you. This helps to reduce eye strain and ensure your eyes won’t be drying out before the end of the day!
We know, it’s easy to stay in your pyjamas all day, especially after Christmas, but much like the divide between work life and home life, it’s important that your mind is as focused as it would normally be in the office. Even if it’s just throwing on a pair of jeans and a shirt, it can make a difference to your overall mood and productivity. In fact, according to a study conducted by CouponFollow on the topic, roughly 80% of the respondents who dressed formally said they felt more productive throughout the day, compared to the pyjama lovers, of whom 50% said felt more productive.
If you really struggle, opt to wear shoes too – this will help your mind to figure out that when shoes are on, you’re actively focused on something. We generally wear shoes when we’re doing something productive that requires us to move - usually when we’re leaving the house. This will hopefully help your mind stay alert!
Manage your mental health
As the year progresses, we’ll still be in a strange sort of limbo as we wait to find out more about the vaccine and lockdown rules. If you found 2020 a struggle, it might help to have some strategies to help manage your mental health this year.
We’ve previously discussed communication and mental health apps that could support you, but you can also do a variety of things to alleviate any stress you might face. Setting routines, taking regular breaks and setting boundaries with anyone else at home can make all the difference when tackling the day ahead. Most importantly – be kind to yourself and understand when it’s time to step away from the desk and go for a walk.
Please note, if you feel you or a loved one are in a very serious mental health crisis, always speak to your GP.
Clean out your inbox
We all know there’s nothing worse than coming back to an inbox filled with junk email we don’t want to see. If your spam filters haven’t been doing their job over the holidays, you can opt to set some new rules within your inbox to ensure you don’t see any of the pesky spam emails that always seem to manage to get through. For this you can use tools such as Mimecast, which safeguards customers against dangerous emails.
Change your passwords
A new year is probably the only time where clicking 'Forget password' is okay. Generally speaking, it's good practice to ensure you change your password every 3 months as the longer your password goes unchanged, the more vulnerable you become to a cyberattack. Don't forget to ensure the password have special characters and a variety of numbers - hackers often use 'dictionary attacks' meaning that the computer will try over and over again to guess your password based on letters in the alaphbet. The more special characters and numbers you put in there, the stronger your defence will be.
Delete files for GDPR
In the same vein as emails, it’s important to comply with government regulations and none are more important for your business than GDPR. It’s best practice to go through both your online and offline spaces to ensure you have deleted any files containing sensitive data and contact information that you should no longer have.
Update software and systems
Similarly, as you’re ensuring you’re GDPR compliant, it’s important to make sure all your software and systems are up to date. Take some time to go through your most used online and offline applications. The more up to date they are, the less headaches you’ll have later in the year in case you come across any errors.
If you’re sick of having to do these each time round for every different OS and applications, you might want to start thinking about using SaaS products like Microsoft Office 365 that make regularly updating all your software, systems and applications a breeze. For example, if you’re looking to prepare servicing strategy for Windows 10 updates that includes all your Microsoft products that becomes much easier and as an additional bonus Microsoft have helpful guides that can make it easier for you to manage all your updates.
Arrange your calendar
Don’t get blindsided as soon as you come back – January is notorious for being a wild month as people try to get organised for the year and you may find yourself being pulled from pillar to post.
Use Outlook’s Focus Plan feature to block out chunks of time throughout the week in your calendar so that you can’t be disturbed. Even better is that if you use Microsoft Teams, you can put notifications on mute during this time and you can automatically set your status to ‘busy’ or ‘do not disturb’.
Oh, and don’t forget to put those birthdays in your calendar so you don’t forget to send those well wishes!
Reconnect with your customers
A warm “Happy New Year” message to your customers will keep you connected and start the year off on a good note with them.
It might seem like a small gesture, but this can help you to stand out against your competitors.
Learn something new
It’s now the perfect time to learn a new skill as you might have more time available to you if you’re no longer commuting to and from your office every day.
Look for any appealing events, webinars or even online courses that can introduce you to a new skill. This doesn’t just have to be for work – it can be solely for your own self-improvement!
Scaling your business in 2021
If 2021 is the year you’ve decided that you need an IT service, look no further – we’re ready to work with you to help scale your business by implementing a strong IT infrastructure for you. Rest assured, our services don’t just include the typical 24/7 service desk support – we can support you with security and compliance, business communications, business intelligence and more. Get in touch with our experts today to help make 2021 your best year yet.