The Holiday season is nearly upon us! For a season full of good cheer, family time and delicious indulgences it is also one of the most stressful points of the year. It is a time of year where productivity can wane due to vacation, travel, sickness, parties and just the general influx of distractions that the season brings.
Although there is less daylight (in the northern hemisphere), and an overall cozy feeling somehow envelops all of us, it does not mean the last months of the year have to be lethargic. There are small steps or improvements you can do to finish the year strong and to start the new year with clarity and cohesion.
Below are our top 4 steps to help you finish the year strong and start the next year on the right foot.
Start Working on Year-End Tasks Early
An important aspect of remaining jolly during the holiday season is to maintain low-stress levels (or as low as possible). There are endless tasks to think about and work on: end of year accounting, the next fiscal year’s budget, applying for grants or closing accounts. Create a game plan to fight against the year-end influx of demands and distractions. Collaborate with department heads and team members to focus on completing the most important tasks by their deadlines. If you’re struggling to decipher which end-of-year tasks are urgent rather than important, check out our post “Urgent v. Important”. By reducing the myriad of decisions and options your team may give their attention to, you cut down on indecisiveness and time wasted “trying to figure it out” and what to do.
Break it down into the 3 most important, and immediate steps.
- Develop a game plan and work the plan: Set & schedule your organization’s priorities. Identify any preparation or coordination that needs to take place for your game plan to be executed seamlessly. Taking the time on the front end to thoroughly think through your end of year workflow will save you and your team unnecessary headache.
- Start planning for Q1: With a new year of goals on the horizon, it may be easier to stay on task and committed to the end of the year. Perhaps it’s time to develop a new social media strategy, revitalize your blog design, or even plan for a whole website redesign.
- Manage Expectations & Don’t Over Commit: Be realistic with your expectations and the expectations you may have of your team. The end of the year is not the time to be overly ambitious. With all of the distractions and obligations, everyone is facing it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of what must be done and deliver on that. Under promise and over perform.
Lean on Your Team & Allow Your Team to Lean on You
Your coworkers are facing the same issues with distraction and obligation as you are with the holiday season, so this is the time to collaborate. Have discussions about how everyone can all work together to make the end of the year run smoothly. Also be sure to talk about each other’s schedule–who will take personal days and when. To reduce stress and increase a sense of camaraderie, create a plan to cover each team member’s absence.
- Track Project Progress: Using a project management system you should have a list of projects and upcoming deadlines. Use this system to help facilitate project-specific communication without cluttering inboxes. Keep track of who is currently in the office to work on the project and who may be out during the holiday season.
- Stay Connected: Use your team’s internal blog or a platform like Slack to share year-end reflections, holiday schedules, holiday party information as well as keep team members who are out of the office in the loop. This would be the place to post all information that might be deemed a distraction and could clutter inboxes.
- Stay Productive While Traveling: Productivity does not have to be lost while traveling during the holidays. Try these 11 tips during your next business trip and amaze yourself (and your team) at how productive and sane you remain!
When it’s time to work, work! Avoid multitasking (no one is actually good at it) work obligations with personal ones. Stick to your ready-made game plan and try to accomplish something concrete every day you’re working. In addition, eliminate outside distractions like mindless web browsing by installing some of the Chrome Extensions for Productivity listed in our blog post and free E-book!
- Don’t Take Work Home: The holidays are about family time which is a perfect time to employ a digital detox. Refrain from working at home and fully be present with your loved ones.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Say No: Say no to tasks or office activities that prevent you from accomplishing your year-end goals. Refusing to partake in excessive chit-chat and trivial requests may seem counter to the holiday spirit, but completing pending assignments on time will put everyone in the office in a jolly mood. With no distractions, it is much easier to focus on working effectively.
Take Care of Yourself
Staying active during the holiday season is vital in keeping your mind sharp, illness at bay and can help compensate for the copious amount of food and drink that is consumed. Exercising is also a great way to relax and release stress.
- Stay Hydrated: Dehydration weakens your immune system. To avoid getting sick during the holiday season it’s important to stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water with your sugary treats or festive spirits or you might find your productivity decimated due to illness.
- Take a Personal Day (or Two): Avoid feeling overwhelmed and take a vacation (or a staycation). Vacations are good for you because they give you the space to decompress, disconnect and come back to work refreshed.
- Reflect & Express Gratitude: Reflecting on your organization’s past year and giving your team constructive feedback is useful. Everyone enjoys receiving acknowledgment and appreciation, so use this time to send messages of gratitude to your team. This gesture will encourage them to do the same with their colleagues and cultivate an environment of gratitude and positivity.
Depending on the industry, the end of the year may be a crush of activity or a lull period. Regardless, it is a time to review performance and set goals to finish the year strong. Use these tips to prevent loss of focus, loss of motivation and loss of momentum.