Tomorrow is the start of December, the last month of the year and a final chance to cross items off the to-do list before you say goodbye to 2020.
I don’t know about you, but I find this time of year tends to get really busy. Clients I haven’t heard from in a while get in contact, new clients make contact to quickly ‘fix’ a few things that have been bothering them, and I have my own personal organizing to do to be ready for my family Christmas. It all tends to speed up at this time of the year and I find myself looking forward to being able to relax on the couch watching the Christmas Special on TV.
Wouldn’t you love to reach the Christmas break feeling like you have some energy left to spend with loved ones? Maybe even be looking forward to connecting with others rather than wishing you could be alone for a few days to regroup before celebrating Christmas? For many of my clients December presents them with the ultimate test in resilience. Many need to plan their lead up to Christmas in order to give them the best chance of maintaining the benchmarks they have set for themselves. To do this they need to be productive at work and enter the holiday season well rested.
But being more productive means one of two things: either you have special powers and can add extra hours to the day, or you’re willing to learn how to manage your time wisely and efficiently.
Since you’re probably like the rest of us and want to know more about the latter, read on for some helpful tips.
Keeping everything in its place will save a lot of time searching. It’s a greatly underrated productivity booster. It’ll save you the time and energy wasted on looking for things. And it’ll make your workspace look neater and better to look at it which is a major stress-buster.
Sometimes we find ourselves saying ‘yes’ to something when we really should be saying ‘no’ or ‘not now’. Clients understand if they are late to request work that you may not be able to do it for them before Christmas.
One of my first coaching clients would call his top clients at the start of December to check in with them around their needs prior to Christmas. His main objective was to manage their expectations and plan for any work that they might need him to do before Christmas. This way he could continue to delight his regular clients and effectively manage his time. By mid-December he was turning away work or deferring it to January. Of course, there was always the ‘surprise’ that turned up but over the years he was able to limit the number of surprises that kept him working through the night.
In an effort to maintain a high level of productivity throughout the day, try picking 5 things you can get done before 11 am. Choose the things that will boost your sense of accomplishment and output. Breaking things down reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed and lost under papers, emails and deadlines.
Instead of eating lunch at your desk, reading your screen or hunched over more paperwork, go for a walk outside. Getting some fresh air will help you clear your head, give you some perspective and a more positive outlook. Plus, it’s great physical exercise, and a change of scenery will do wonders for your creative juices. If you absolutely can’t leave your work area, go for a walk indoors. Studies prove that going for a walk, even a short one, can boost efficiency by 60%.
Some people think that juggling multiple things at once means they’re boosting their productivity. But, studies have found that multitasking could do more harm than good because you’re not giving each task the time and effort it deserves. Distractions like that impact negatively on the quality of your work, and leave you feeling drained and frazzled. Try giving each task enough time to complete it before moving onto something else.
Everything we do requires time. And if we set a reasonable amount of time for each task, research shows we will be more productive at completing the task than if we set too little time aside for the task. This is due to the ‘What the hell effect’ i.e. if we miss a deadline, we are more likely to be slower at completing it than if we set a reasonable amount of time. The impact of having this happen is that over time it could be de-motivating.
As best you can, arrange your days to maintain a similar level of busy. It will assist in maintaining your motivation and provide you with a steady routine and a stream of accomplishments. The benefit of this approach is that it decreases the chances of errors and re-work and if you do find yourself missing a deadline due to over commitment, it will help you to complete the task quicker.
Coupled with this is a guaranteed morning and night routine allowing you to get a healthy amount of sleep. Remember you need between 7 – 9 hours a night.
In general, the word ‘deadline’ could be enough to give you heart palpitations, headaches, or dizzy spells. But when you’re the one setting the deadline for yourself, you won’t feel the pressure in a negative way. However, you will feel obligated to respect the deadline you’ve set.
We’re creatures of habit, so go easy on yourself at first. The point is to acknowledge that you have a set time after which you’ll be held accountable for your work. When you do meet your deadline, acknowledge it and reward yourself for getting the task or project done on time.
Uncertainty with what is required to complete a task can lead to procrastination and overwhelm. So, if you’re unsure of what is required of you, ask a colleague, or your manager and demystify the task for yourself. Asking for clarity is much more empowering than sitting with overwhelm and indecision.
Attractive furniture and office decor, such as candles, plants, vases, can be pleasing to look at. Better yet, they turn a boring space into something beautiful and functional with an added personal touch. They can also help increase productivity, as studies show, by up to 15%.
If you haven't already, choose whatever makes you feel happy and comfortable, as long as they don’t contradict your office guidelines. By surrounding yourself with things that are aesthetically pleasing, you’ll be boosting productivity, providing a creative outlet, as well as providing the environment to focus on the task at hand.
Boosting productivity means working smarter, not harder. You know you’re not working smarter when you stop taking your own productivity advice! So, try to resist the temptation to say yes to everything and exhaust yourself in the process.
Do you want to take better care of yourself without compromising the service you offer your clients? Do you regularly forgo your wellbeing because you’re too busy looking after others? Are you looking to integrate self-care but worried it will take up too much of your time?
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