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Top Things to Do When You're the Only One in the Office

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Just because the office is empty doesn't mean you can't stay busy. In fact, the slow holiday season may be the perfect time to catch up on your to-do list and make your 2014 work life a little easier. Before you opt for long lunches or spend hours on Facebook, check out these three productive things you can do when the office is slow.

1. Reflect on your accomplishments and set new goals.

This is a great time to take a step back and reflect on what you've accomplished in the past year. If you haven't already, update your brag sheet to include all your most recent professional achievements and contributions, suggests Amanda Augustine, job search expert for TheLadders.

"This process will help you prepare for your upcoming annual review and any conversations you plan to have with your manager about your compensation," Augustine says.

Also, take a look at your calendar and set personal goals.

"Reflecting on the past year and assessing what you would like to improve or work towards in 2014 can be a great thing to do during the slower holiday weeks at work," says Piera Palazzolo, senior vice president of marketing at Dale Carnegie Training.

Even if it's difficult to think of being a career-focused dynamo when work is slow, it's important to use the end of the year to consider where you want to be in five or more years from now, Augustine says.

"Set a few goals for the New Year that will get you one step closer to your long-term professional aspirations. Create an action plan to help you meet these goals. This could include signing up for a professional development course, seeking out a mentor or updating your resume," she says.

2. Reach out to colleagues, current and former.

Reach out to your professional mentor as well as others who have helped you in your career development this year, such as former bosses and colleagues, alumni connections and others, suggests Paul McDonald, senior executive director at professional staffing firm Robert Half.

"Extend an invitation for coffee or lunch," McDonald says. "Never assume people know how grateful you are for what they've done for you -- take the time to show it with words and deeds. December is a great time to do this -- if people are in, their schedules may be more flexible than usual."

Also, consider reaching out to someone who might appreciate your support, McDonald says. Perhaps you know someone who is struggling to find a job, a student looking for tips on how to land his first role or a former colleague looking to resume her career after a break.

"The holidays can be an especially difficult time for people facing transition. A phone call and offer to meet for coffee could make a world of difference to them, and make you feel good as well," he says.

Also, don't forget about the people you work most closely with, Palazzolo says.

"Plan a team lunch or gathering with the people who are in the office," she suggests. "Getting to know your colleagues in a social setting can impact your engagement at work. It is important to make use of the slower time to internally reconnect with your colleagues, as it can improve how you feel at work."

Even if you reach out via snail mail, it's still networking, Palazzolo explains.

"Take the time to touch base with your professional contacts with a holiday card," she says.

3. Neaten up -- Your books and your desk.

"You might have an end-of-year performance review coming up, or a quarterly check-in with your boss. The final weeks of the year may give you some quiet time to prepare for the meeting," McDonald says. "Think about ways you can streamline processes, cut waste and improve efficiencies -- in your own role or companywide."

While you're cleaning up the business side of things, think about cleaning up some of the more physical elements of the office -- take the time to get organized and clean out your desk, McDonald suggests.

"Clearing out your workspace can help clear your mind as well -- you'll be more productive with less clutter. Many people might list 'getting more organized' as one of their New Year's Resolutions -- you can get a head start on this before 2014 is underway and feel great about getting something crossed off your list," he says.

If cleaning doesn't sound like something you need to do, ask yourself: "When was the last time the office was organized and cleaned? Is it time to replenish office supplies?" asks Jennifer Friedman, CMO of small business at CT Corp. and its subsidiary BizFilings.

"Ensuring the success of your business, as well as the happiness of your customers and employees, requires effort and dedication -- no better time than the holiday lull!" Friedman says.

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