Stay Productive this Winter Holiday Season!

December is here, which means you need to have a game plan.

Why?

Because the holiday season mean more activities! There are parties, dinners, cookie baking, and more. If we don’t make a plan our schedule, our schedules will plan for us, which often results in the most urgent (not the same as the most important) tasks being completed first, while other tasks are put on the back burner.

In our experience, the tasks that get put to the side are usually the more important, income producing activities for your business or career.

And here is where the heart of your business problems lie.

When we lose focus in the 4th quarter of the year, it negatively effects productivity in the 1st quarter, as well. Around the end of November, productivity drops as we begin to feel the time crunch of the holidays. In fact, according to a poll by the American Psychological Association, 69{db95e0fd77ae6d141d4535e2bf7b464d98e4151322120f553d7786be9a7303be} of Americans experience stress due to a feeling they have a lack of time during the holiday season. We feel we have less time because there is more to do; there is more going on to fill up our time.

The thing that people struggle with the most during the holidays is simply saying NO.

We don’t like saying no. What if we miss out on something? Will someone get upset? What if I lose an opportunity?

However, saying no is actually the key to productivity and business success. By learning to prioritize our activities and determining to what to say yes and no, you can reduce stress, increase productivity, and keep your business and career focused and on purpose.

How do we manage our priorities?

Here are 5 Tips for getting you through the holiday season with focus and clarity.

 

Stay Productive by Planning Out your Month

Most of of have a calendar that helps us keep track of our appointments and activities. It may be color-coded and be able to send you reminders.

But how realistic it it?

When I first began keeping a calendar, I would input something that looked like this…

stay productive winter holiday

On November 29th, I had a networking luncheon from 11:30am-1pm.

However, apart from helping me remember what I have going on, this is not very accurate.

According to my calendar, this activity will take up only 1.5 hours of my day. But in reality, I have to start getting ready for the luncheon at 10am. I need to leave the house by 10:45am so I can get there by 11:15am because you really need to be there early for more networking opportunities. Then, the luncheon may end at 1pm, but we’ll spend about 15 minutes chatting and exchanging cards before I head out, getting me home around 1:45pm. Then I need to go through my business cards and input them into my CRM and send out a few personal e-mails, follow-ups, or thank yous and connect with people on social media to keep the leads warm before people forget meeting me. By this time, it’s about 3pm.

My calendar said the networking event would only be 1.5 hours. My actual time investment was 5 hours.

Be aware how long things actually take. This will help you realistically decide to what activities you can and cannot say yes.

Having trouble knowing how long things actually take? Get in control of your schedule with our Time Management Article.

 

This will also help you manage your energy!

How many of us get to the end of December, a supposed vacation month, feeling exhausted? We get to January 1st, which was supposed to be the day we started fresh and ready for launching our new idea, and feel tired and overwhelmed, needing time to recover.

Avoid this trap! Learn to say no!

But, how do I know to activities I say yes? Ask yourself a few questions?

  • Will it help grow my business?

  • Is it an income producing activity?

  • Will it nurture a relationship with my family or friends?

  • Will this help me reach my goal?

  • Will this keep me focused?

  • Will this increase my health and wellbeing?

 

As a side note:
December is also a great time to take stock of the return on investment of your activities for the past year to see what you want to say yes to in the coming year.

For example, at the end of every fiscal year, we look at the associations and chambers we have membership in. These groups take time and also often cost money. At the end of the year, if we didn’t make any money as a result of being a part of that group, we do not renew our membership.

This may seem harsh. However, the reason we join business chambers and associations is to increase our business. If our business didn’t increase after a year of investments, we don’t continue because we no longer have a reason to stay.

Know the reasons behind what you do. For any activity. If those activities are not serving that purpose, it may be something to say no to in the coming year.

 

 

Stay Productive by Staying Accountable at Work

For entrepreneurs, it can be difficult to stay engaged for a full 8 hours a day. Work schedules are more flexible and without direct accountability from a manager, it can be easy to get distracted by other things. Especially if you work from home.

Decide how many hours you need to work, how many phone calls you need to make, how many articles you need to write, and/or how many appointments you need to set up. Then, stay accountable and get it done.

Now, there is a common misconception that it is impossible to get appointments close to the holidays because everyone is already on vacation. However, it’s actually easier to get appointments because many people have more time off and more flexibility in their schedules, depending on the industry.

For employees, choosing the hours you work is not an option the same way as it is for an entrepreneur, however it is important not to fall into the trap of “phoning it in” at work. According to CareerBuilder, 54{db95e0fd77ae6d141d4535e2bf7b464d98e4151322120f553d7786be9a7303be} of workers in the U.S. expect to do holiday shopping at their cubicles. Employees are literally getting paid to shop. This severely cuts into productive hours for companies.  Don’t fall into the trap of coming in late, leaving early, or shopping on company time.

Whatever your employment situation, don’t let up on the intensity of your work. This will set the tone and get you ready for the new year.

 

Stay Productive by Planning Free Time

It’s not all work and no play!

The benefits of time off is well documented, ranging from higher productivity to improved creativity. The vast majority of people need time away from work.

However, American’s in general don’t use most of their time off. We value hard-work, take pride in long hours, and often sacrifice health and family for tasks. However, December is a time for enjoying family and taking some much needed time off.

If you plan ahead, you can still be productive this month, while also taking time off. In the previous section, we walked through how to set aside blocks of time for work. Once these are in place, you can set aside time off for rest. This way, you can relax and enjoy your time away, without feeling guilty.

However, remember that this time of rest and relaxation is there to help you recuperate and prepare for the next year. So be careful to guard this time off! Don’t mistake this as time set aside for cooking, cleaning, and entertaining guests. This time off should be extra time set aside for actual relaxation.

 

Stay Productive by Taking the Easy Road

Years ago, my mother-in-law simply astounded me. The woman worked a full time job and still was able to plan a perfect Christmas, complete with the big, homemade Italian feast for an army. And she never wore thin or got overwhelmed.

How did she do it?

After watching her for a few years, I figured it out. She knew exactly what she could and could not do. So starting in after Thanksgiving, she would do her Christmas shopping, which was all done out of catalogs, saving time and energy at the stores. She would set aside time for writing Christmas cards at the end of the day while she was watching some TV.  She would plan a great meal and have as many things done ahead of time as possible.

What she didn’t do was try to be Martha Stewart. She didn’t make a homemade wreath. In fact, she bought what would take her too long to make. And a the end of the day, as corny as it sounds, she knew that Christmas was about the people she shared it with and the food they ate. And that was enough.

Do you need to make a homemade pie dough, or could you just buy one from the store? Do you need to make those homemade placemats or will a plastic tablecloth do this year? Would it take less time to put gifts into gift bags instead of using gift wrap? Know your limits! Christmas will come, even if you decide to eat Chinese takeout instead of a 5 course meal.

A Side note:
Think about buying your gifts from independent representatives you know in direct sales companies. These products are usually great, they’re convenient to buy, and they come right to your door. Not only will this help out the small business owners in your community, it’s also going to give you some return on investment. You could buy the same types of products at the mall, however the mall isn’t going to remember you and send you referrals the rest of the year.

 

Stay Productive By Giving Yourself a Gift

We all work hard. We deserve to give ourselves a gift at the end of the year.

Maybe it’s something you’ve really wanted that most people wouldn’t think to get you.

Maybe it’s something you’ve had your eye on and have been saving up for.

Or it could be something as simple, but as powerful, and doing a little something to help yourself.

Do something just for you and promise yourself to do the same next year. This will give you something to look forward to throughout the year and give you a little extra motivation when you’re suppressing those urges to make those gratifying impulse buys. It helps to remember there is going to be a reward waiting for you through the sacrifice.

 

stay productive winter holiday