Silence is always beautiful.*

Said no business owner ever. The absence of a ringing phone, or pinging email means: A. You’re in a remote location – perhaps against your own will– severed from your electronic lifeline.

Or, B. It’s January, the season that inevitably follows the joyous holiday season, also referred to as Fourth Quarter. In the world of voiceover, where I reside, silence is not only disturbing, it’s against the laws of nature. We talk for a living.

Sure, you feel all clean slate-y, and ready to embrace new beginnings, only to soon find yourself gazing out your office window, regretting the purchase of that organic watermelon radish you bought at the winter farmers market. The anxious crunch provides little more than a palate cleanser to the bad taste of your own stasis.

Stop brooding, and get busy with these 8 ways to be productive right now.

1. Talk to someone. That rectangular thing that takes fabulous photos, and creates hilarious Snapchat moments also allows you to speak to someone in real time. Your phone is not just a multi-tasking electronic wonder, it’s your personal relationship builder, and money-maker.
2. Reach out to old contacts. Should auld acquaintances be forgot? Ah, no If you haven’t worked with a client in a while, especially one you like, call, text, Facebook message, pony express. By whatever means, remind them you’re around. Life gets busy for all of us, and you may have just slipped off their radar. Get in touch, and get back on it.
3. Organize your office/studio/work area. Stuff accumulates during the year, and often clutters your mind as well. Stop the chaos. Purge what no longer serves you, file, tidy up. Declutter, update software. Keep a calendar – and use it. Buy new office furniture, or equipment that makes your work space more efficient. Add something beautiful – a painting, photo, vase of flowers to inspire you, and enhance creativity.
4. Learn something new. Take a class, hire a coach, get certified in an aspect of your work. It adds to your credentials , reinvigorates your passion, and may even shift your mindset.
5. Get with your people. Accountability groups, a networking event, or a one to one coffee with a colleague get us out of our caves, and into our communities. When you give and get encouragement, share insights and methods, and spend time with people who genuinely love what they do, the energy is infectious. Not to mention motivating.
6. Tackle your taxes. Ugh. Paperwork. Receipts. Numbers. I’m a creative. I don’t do numbers. Yeah, ya do. You’re a business owner. Let January be a no-whining zone, with calculator, in hand, spreadsheet, FreshBooks, or whatever you use to figure out your fiscal year. Call your accountant, and get busy. Bask in the glow of avoiding the April rush.
7. Update social media. If you’re into that. If you’re not, don’t sweat it. Life is too short to do stuff you think you ‘should’ do. Same with blogging. Do, or don’t. But if you like it and it works for you, use any down time to stockpile a few posts now.
8. Get a life. Better yet, get into your life. All work does make us dull. There are books to read, museums to visit, films, concerts, plays to see. Friends with whom to share a glass of wine, an afternoon of shopping, or a good cry. There’s yoga, pick- up basketball, or that mosaic class you’ve been dying to take. Do it now. We bring what we love, and our experiences into our work, which not only broaden our horizons, but make us a much more interesting contributor.

Even concentrating on one of the above is bound to change your outlook, and make your working life considerably livelier. Before you know it, January is drawing to an end and wait – is that a ping I just heard?

*Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Sure he was a great writer, but did he ever have make the phrase ‘transesophageal echocardiogram’ sound conversational and inviting in an eLearning application, or create a cuddly farm animal astronaut on demand?