The cubicles are barren, the coffee pot is empty, and in place of the hum of the fax machine and the chatter of coworkers is the sweet sound of silence.  Yes, it must be that time of year, the holiday exodus, where employees cash in their vacation days to enjoy holiday time with their families.  As the workforce slims for a couple weeks, those mighty few who decide to hold on to their PTO and stick around so the office runs smoothly might feel a little lonely or even unproductive without their teammates by their side.  If this is you, here are some tips on making the most of a potentially less hectic schedule and quieter work environment to have a productive holiday exodus!

Start a little winter cleaning.

Why wait until spring?  You can take advantage of a quiet office to catch up on organizing everything from your workspace to your computer files.  Sift through the piles of paperwork that you’ve been stuffing in the bowels of your bottom drawer all year.  Catch up on going through your email and cleaning up your inbox.  Getting organized during this time will help you start the new year off on the right foot!

Start planning a project you never have time for.

Have you been dying to start a company blog for months now, but just haven’t been able to find the time between all of your other quarterly projects?  If you’ve finished up your other obligations for the quarter, this quieter time might be the perfect opportunity to start putting some posts together to pitch to your boss.

Set up your goals for the new year.

With 2013 just around the corner, now is an ideal time to establish short- and long-term professional goals for the year.  Establish specific goals you want to get done in the first quarter, and set deadlines for yourself.  Think about what long-term goals you might have, and establish steps to achieve them.

Enjoy a bit of solitude!

Even though it might seem a little lonely with less people in the office, there can be some perks too!  See if HR is okay with you dressing down from business professional to business casual for a day or two if you won’t be interacting with any customers.  Play some tunes while you work during a time when you have fewer neighbors to distract.

The holiday season can be very hectic and distracting at work, so if you get a little bit of extra peace and quiet to organize your thoughts and set yourself up for a successful start to a new year, take advantage of it!