Orig. Published Nov. 2018 | Revised Dec. 2019
Is it just me or are the holidays weird when it comes to finding your productivity mojo? The holidays can be so festive, inspiring and notoriously unproductive at the same time. From my perspective, that’s especially true around the office anyway. Even at home it can feel strange where productivity is measured in holiday gift buying checklists being completed vs. how much time is set aside to have some heart to heart conversations we’ve skipped during the year.
Let’s take a look at the work side of the work-life balance equation. Here we are with less than 30 days into this decade and year called 2019. And there’s still work to be done – projects due, reports to write, invoices to pay, payments to collect etc… We know it. Our colleagues know it. But we also know something else. Some of this stuff can technically slide into January. Why? Because no one cares enough to follow up with you about how things are going. So, what do we do instead?
Well, we start talking about things like what we’re going to wear to the holiday party. Then we talk about how stupid holiday parties are. Or…orrr we talk about how great they used to be or who got drunk and touchy-feely at the last one. Or some combination of how they’re a hit or miss these days. Then our days are consumed with either asking or answering – “Hey what are you doing for the holidays…” and pretend we’re interested in the answer or fall for the fact that the person who asked really doesn’t care about our reply. They’re just killing time before their New Years Eve plans.
Honestly, the holidays for all the meaning and depth they’re supposed to capture somehow corner us into having shallow conversations, meal-induced laziness and procrastination fests.
But they’re a focused few that don’t care for pretending they’re working while waiting for time off. You might be one of those focused few – the ones that know that no matter how much procrastination is tolerated and welcomed during the holidays, recognize that it’s just the perfect time to get down to business and prep for a great 2019 while their colleagues fall asleep over seasonal leftovers or start milking their PTO till January.
So, to those focused few – here’s 5 Ways to Still Be Productive During the Holidays (Even When no one Else is Working)
1. – Do the Math
Do an actual calculation of how much time you have between now and the end of the year in the office and at home. One of the awkward things that happens without fail during the holiday is the questioning of “What days we’re getting off this year…because I know last year, Christmas fell on such an such a day and New Year’s Eve fell on a Thursday and no one came in that Friday etc…” So, do the math.
Get super crystal clear on what your working hours are going to be or when you’ll be in the office putting the work in. You can use the weekly time planning sheet below to assess and calculate how much time you’ll need to avoid double booking or underestimating what needs to be done. And also, make sure that you’re clear on the days the people you need to reach are available.
After doing the time math, block out the time on a physical calendar. I’m talking about using a grown-person planner that shows you exactly how much time you have left in the day i.e. it covers all 24 hours of a day.
An example of what I mean is below.
2. – Pick 1 or 2 Things to Complete – Don’t Get Bogged Down
There’s nothing worse than having a year come to an end and feeling like you have 12 things to wrap up at once. And I’m not talking about holiday gifts. This time of year is notorious for the unreachables when you’re trying to finish projects. And you know who the unreachables are – the people you need to talk to that strangely are “not able to be reached in the office” when you need to reach them and won’t be returning until Jan. 3rd!!! (aka next year). Cue up email vacation responses and outgoing messages. This is why you have to be intentional and selective about picking 1 or 2 things to get done.
Yeah. It happens. And if you’ve been in your field or work for more than a couple years, you’ve seen this pattern. People just *POOF* disappear during the holidays. Don’t let it happen to you this year. So, if you’re all set with your 1 or 2 things to complete, set some daily intentions and outcomes so you’re finished on time as desired.
A daily Intentions and Outcomes sheet like the one below comes in handy. (Available in the 24 Hour Blueprint Playbook and Planner)
3. Take Daily Action (and Score Yourself)
In some cases, some of the things that need to be done require daily action. And for that reason, it helps to have a place where you can check off daily progress. And not only that, but actually score and have a number that represents how well you’re doing in marching towards your productivity objective. I know that sounds extra, but you’ll be so surprised how focused this exercise will force you to be. I have one of those documents in my 24 hour blueprint playbook and they come in really handy.
4. Cautiously Use Google Calendar or Outlook
Remember point no. 1 was Do the Math? This section is why you have to do the math. And by do the math, I mean literally count the hours you have to work. Visit the PDF documents library for a worksheet or download the sheet in section no. 1 above.
Now, I have the Google Calendar App on my phone; and I’m sure you have access to it as well if you use gmail as your email provider. But it’s deceptively counterproductive. Most people use digital calendars as a to-do list kind of a tool vs. using it to capture what they’ve already taken the time to confirm they have time to do. In other words, your Google calendar should ONLY have what you’ve already figured out you have time do NOT what you hope you can rush and get done. Make sense? Getting things done during this time of year is serious business. It’s not time to willy-nilly your productivity. It’s time to get’er done as they say. And your holidays aren’t going to be super productive if you’re winging your schedule in Google or Outlook. Use the 24 Hour Blueprint Weekly Planning sheets to make sure you have the time you need to get things done and stress less about it.
5. Reflect and Think Ahead
With the finish line of the year being around the corner and a new year of tasks and to-do’s waiting for you, it’s easy to anticipate taking your foot off the gas right around Dec. 23rd or so. But don’t do it to yourself. Take this time to start planning ahead. The smart thing to do is actually look back over the year and evaluate how you’ve performed in some key areas and how you plan to improve. I like to call these key areas – the Kingdoms. And I reflect on 5 of them, The 5 Kingdoms. They are:
- Faith (Your Philosophical/Spiritual growth)
- Fellowship (Your Social life and network)
- Finance (Your Financial life and growth)
- Feelings (Your Emotional Well-Being)
- Fitness (Your Physical condition and environment)
The power of this process is that if you do it right, you can get a good feel for what you need to focus your energy on next. In this day of actionable quantitative data analysis, I don’t take this exercise lightly. I run a simple calculation by scoring myself from 1 to 5 on each of them. “1” means Extremely Unsatisfied and 5 means Extremely Satisfied. With my score, I know right where to go to work vs. guessing. The emoticons below represent what the scores look like.
The emoticon rating scale above is now part of a 4-Step 5-Star self-rating process know as the Chill Code Journey. This journey helps you immediately get in action with self awareness and improve in areas of life that you’d normally ignore, neglect or give up on too quickly.
If you’re up for the fun challenge of a neat way to hold yourself accountable without taking yourself too seriously, take the quiz below which is the first step of the Chill Code Journey.
If you’re curious about how the score’s work, check out What Do Your Scores Mean?
That’s it. Hope you’re ready for a super productive rest of the year and a kick-ass 2020!
PS – Interested in being Super Productive as a Way of Life? Check out the Chill Code Journey to get started.