I know this is supposed to be the most joyful season of the year, but wherever I go, I hear supporting evidence that it can also be the most challenging. Like Thanksgiving, the perfect holiday may be elusive to many. Here’s what some of my close friends and colleagues are doing to take advantage of a time when everyone else seems consumed by shopping, partying and doing everything not-business related.

One friend is capitalizing on this abundance of “free” time to learn programs on the Mac she needs to know. She recently mastered Keynote (Apple’s superb version of PowerPoint) among others and has created a client presentation that is knocking the socks off of her prospects.

One client finds this excess of time an opportunity to explore which trade shows to enter in 2010. Another is using the peaceful quiet to research artists’ grants while her neighbors are all at the mall.

When I was writing my first book and finding every which way to describe what was missing from the situation, a wise mentor suggested that I focus on the donut, not on the hole. What was there to appreciate given that I had initially been thrilled to be in the situation in the first place? What could I do to take my focus off what wasn’t being done on the publisher’s end? That shift in perspective altered everything for me.

What about the current season does work for you? What can be accomplished when the phones are quiet? What will you wish you’d done now when January comes and you don’t have a moment to yourself?

What does your donut look like?

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