It is the morning of Monday, October 28th and each morning that I notate the date and my to-dos for the day I think, “Wow, this year (and this weekend) went by so fast.” However this particular Monday morning aroused an extra element of panic in me; Friday is November 1st and that means the holidays are right around the flip of the calendar. Duh, duh, DDDUUUUHHHHHH! OK, but fear not, this is the year that planning, shopping and contract-finding will be done early. Therefore, here is the Consultants’ Holiday Survival Guide in which we’ll cover both personal and professional survival tips for the last two months of the year.
Contract End Dates – In my past five years of recruiting Healthcare IT contractors and consultants, the holidays are always the toughest time of year for procuring a new contract. If your current contract ends between today and the end of the year, start searching for your next contract NOW, as in N-O-W, now. The holidays are, in general, a hard time of year to start new work because budgets are winding down and if there is a need to stretch a budget until December 31st, an additional contractor expense is the first thing to be put on hold. It’s the end of the year and we’re out of money, folks!
Also, hiring managers are on vacation; the kids are out of school and it’s a slow time of year in the hospital administration group (we can talk about the Emergency Department later). I believe that this year will be even more difficult for contractors to procure new contracts during the holidays due to the slowdown of the Epic market. Therefore, if you are going to be looking for work, start immediately. Re-contact all those recruiters, engage your network, post your resume, and start interviewing even if you are six weeks away from needing work.
Automation – At my firm, we constructed a Consulting 101 Guide in which we provide our new hires tips for being a successful consultant. Part of this guide is about automating your personal life. No, we don’t suggest marrying a robot, but we do recommend automating as many chores as possible so that while consultants are home on the weekends, it’s fun time, not to-do list time. For example, we suggest using online banking for as much as possible. Automatic deductions for credit card and mortgage payments save time and ensure that while you’re traveling, you won’t miss a payment. Another example, hire out dry cleaning and lawn care services. Do you really want to mow the lawn before getting on your flight?
So let’s apply this to the holidays. Perhaps shopping online at a site with free delivery like Amazon Prime or, even better, shop for gifts online where the store will gift wrap and deliver to your recipients? Or hire a personal shopper! Yes, these exist and some will even gift wrap for you. Here’s my favorite, have your groceries delivered. There’s nothing worse than going to the grocery store the Saturday before Christmas . . . think three carts trying to get down the cans aisle.
Don’t Procrastinate – I know, easier said than done, I get it. However, the holidays are stressful, and starting preparations early can help to eliminate or at least mitigate that stress. No matter what you celebrate, this should be a happy time of year so hop to it. First reader to complete their holiday list and post in the comments gets a special treat from me.