As we all rush to finish projects and end the year with a bang before the big fat guy in a red suit comes to visit, we often forget to make time for strategic planning. In the busyness of business we are usually pretty burnt out come December but it is vital to set yourself up for the next 12 months by taking some time to review and plan.

Every year I block out anywhere between 2-5 days for planning and research and so I can hit the ground running as soon as I get back from holidays. I do this so I can be collecting the relevant information while I’m on holidays. Also I find that when I am more relaxed I am more creative and can think clearer as I’m not caught up in the busyness of the normal day to day.

Don’t keep putting it off – don’t keep procrastinating and saying ‘I will get to that’ Why? Because there will never be the perfect time to start. There will always be something you think should take priority. Before you know it you are back into the ‘busyness of business’ and you’ve missed an opportunity to start the year working Smarter. Have a plan before you start to get back into your normal daily routine

Do a digital audit – Take an objective look at your existing digital channels. And I mean objective!! Don’t let ego get in the way and think that what you have is perfect and you don’t need to improve. You could be missing out on simple digital tactics that can be make a big difference with little cost.

Ask your teams input where relevant – find out what issues impact them the most. Do they need better systems, more digital tools, resources or support? Can you outsource some things to a specialist so they can focus on their day to day role?

Invest in yourself and your team – You will get more from them if you give them the skills to improve. Training doesn’t need to be expensive but it is vital that you have an ongoing training program for your team Make time for it, schedule throughout the year

Make time for learning during the year – it should be ongoing Schedule training for your every 2-3 months. Do this in advance then plan around it. What usually happens is that you get caught up being busy and don’t invest in your teams development. Everyone is busy and it’s no longer an acceptable excuse!

Consider what new technology you can use or invest in – to make you and your team more productive. There are so many free and low cost digital tools and platforms that will save you time, money and resources. Why aren’t you using them? You are making your life harder than it needs to be.

The biggest mistake you can do is leave your digital strategy and planning to next year because chances are it just wont happen then either. Success is all about planning and action, not procrastination! It’s time to get smarter and use digital to make 2017 your best year in business yet!