Make the Most of Holiday Downtime, From Server Maintenance to Product Demos

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By Pam Baker, on

IT is always operating at full throttle, zooming toward business goals and problem resolutions. Meanwhile, the list of things IT would also like to do waits for a less harried time. Fortunately, the downtime surrounding the holidays presents the perfect opportunity to get to that list. Here are five tips on how to make the most of the gift of time.

1. Finish Server Maintenance

You’ve tried to stay on top of server maintenance all year, being the dedicated professional that you are. But sometimes, other issues take priority and server maintenance can slip to the sidelines.

Here’s your chance to grab the ball and run for the goal line — perfectly tuned hardware, supercharged memory and disk resources and flawlessly applied patches. What better way to start the new year than at full power?

2. Take Product Demos for a Spin

All year you’ve seen or heard about new products and services that could make network management, server maintenance and other IT tasks so much easier. You meant to check out the demos, put the products through the paces and otherwise thoroughly evaluate the hype against your IT reality.

Unfortunately, good intentions gave way to other real-time pressures earlier in the year. But during the holidays when phones stop ringing, meetings come to a grinding halt and tickets slow to a trickle, there’s both the time and quiet to focus on product evaluations.

3. Dream a Little Dream

Strategic planning takes both careful thought and a goodly amount of daydreaming to follow all the “what if” possibilities. That requires distraction-free quiet time, which generally isn’t available outside of the holiday period.

Dare to lean back in your office chair, put your feet on the desk and just let your thoughts roam. You’ll be amazed at what taking the time to think and dream does for your productivity — not just now, but possibly throughout the coming year. Want time to dream and plan throughout the year too? Check to see what else can be automated to free up more of your team’s time all year long.

You should also take the time to make sure everything is routinely being backed up. Test the backups to ensure they function properly and double-check that business continuity plan to make sure it’s up to date and solid. This will go far in preventing emergencies from sidetracking your work toward making your company more competitive.

4. Summon Your Inner Superhero

You’re one of the good guys all year, a white-hat through and through. Not only have you kept the company running flawlessly, but you’ve been battling attacks at every turn. Now is the time to look back and count the year’s many accomplishments. Such an accounting will do wonders for you and your team’s morale, plus the information will likely come in handy when it’s time for your performance review (and potential raise) next year.

Conduct a security audit and review security policies. If anything is out of date, out of compliance or just not relevant anymore, now’s the perfect time to make those corrections. You can even summon your inner superhero to think of new ways to combat the bad guys.

5. Give the Gifts That Keep On Giving

‘Tis the season for goodwill, good cheer and good deeds. Your good deed could be mentoring a junior employee to help him or her advance. At the same time, you’re developing your bench and proving your leadership skills.

You can also be good to yourself by using downtime to take courses to improve or add to your own skills. This can rapidly boost your resume and even your income.

Bonus: Make a List and Check It Twice

The best way to make the most of holiday downtime is to plan in advance what you want to do with that time. So make that list now and check it twice, but don’t overload it. You need time to thoroughly complete tasks and maintenance, evaluate security plans and do a little dreaming about the future of your IT department.

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About The Author

Pam Baker

Freelance Writer

Pam Baker is an award-winning freelance journalist based in Georgia. Her published credits number in the thousands, including books, e-books, e-briefs, white papers, industry analysis reports and articles in leading publications, including Institutional Investor, CIO, Fierce Markets and InformationWeek, among many others. Her latest book, "Data Divination: Big Data Strategies," has been met with rave reviews, was featured in a prestigious National Press Club event, is recommended by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for business executives and is currently being used as a textbook in both business and tech schools in universities around the world. Baker is a "big-picturist," meaning she enjoys writing on topics that overlap and interact, such as technology and business. Her fans regualrly follow her work in science, technology, business and finance.

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