The end of the year is full of stuff that isn’t work. In fact, it’s the least productive time of the year.
Seriously, who didn’t get as much done at work as expected? ?
Proof that we’re behind the eight ball starting the new year: About 60% of employees say their productivity noticeably drops in December, according to an i4CP study. And when that drops, guess what most say increases: Stress, of course.
Reconcile with the least productive time
So the holidays can be fun, but they’re almost always on a crash course with productivity. And now the time to reconcile for lost time is here.
But, let’s do it smartly.
“It’s tempting to hustle and tick off every goal, promising yourself a dream holiday once you’re done,” says Avery Morgan, productivity expert and CCO at EduBirdie. “The reality is, there will always be another task and you will burn out long before you clear your to-do list.”
Instead, here are eight productivity hacks to help you take a calculated approach to getting productive again:
1. Review your commitments
The start of something — a year, a project, a quarter or a life-changing event — calls for review and re-prioritization of commitments. That’s according to Darcy Eikenberg, an executive coach, in her Harvard Business Review research.
Eikenberg says you don’t want to create a habit of canceling or rescheduling deadlines and meetings or backing out of commitments — lest you become known as an unreliable leader — but you should regularly review what you can eliminate. An honest reorganization of a to-do list is a good way to kickstart your productivity advances.
2. Set goals, create tasks
Set one or two main year-end goals. Then work backwards from there, creating a roadmap of smaller milestones and the tasks you need to accomplish for each.
From there, you can reverse engineer each objective. Essentially, break it down into smaller steps, making it easier to stay on course without getting derailed.
3. Get better at saying ‘No’
Saying “No” is difficult for some leaders. And that’s how you get pressed for time and stressed for good.
“The reality is, many of us doubt our ability to deal with workplace conflicts,” says Morgan. “When something as simple as saying ‘no’ is a source of anxiety, it’s easy to overcommit, but spreading your time too thin will lead to missed deadlines or subpar results.”
So she suggests you divide tasks into four categories based on urgency and importance. Try to stay focused only on the high-priority items that will help you achieve your main objectives. That way, when you’re asked to do something else this year, you can consider if it’s urgent, important or aligns with your goals before agreeing to it or saying no.
4. Decline more meetings
We don’t have to tell you that meetings get in the way of productive work.
So they should be the first thing you decline when you need to get more done. The best way: Simply block off a “no-meeting” day or two half-days on your calendar.
“You will be surprised how much you can accomplish when you’re not constantly sitting on Zoom calls,” says Morgan.
5. Review progress weekly
Set time aside each week to review goals, accomplishments and the challenges ahead. Be honest with yourself: If you missed goals or just didn’t accomplish what you expected to do, it’s time to cut out more “extras.”
Ideally, you can figure out why you fell behind — or jumped ahead — and what you need to do to get back on track or replicate to stay ahead.
“Maybe you’ve lost motivation and need to tackle a problem from a new angle, or perhaps you need a breather in the afternoon to get over that post-lunch slump,” says Morgan.
6. Set aside “psychological detox” days
Give yourself a day to forget about your workload and focus on creative hobbies or favorite pastimes. We aren’t talking about taking a day off work. Just be sure to purposefully avoid work on one of your days off.
“A good break can recharge the mind, enhancing your problem-solving abilities once you return to work,” says Morgan.
Even better: Log out of your socials. It can help you disconnect from even more and improve your problem-solving abilities.
7. Give yourself a break
Jam-packing your calendar doesn’t mean you’ll get more done. It’ll likely make you more stressed and turn into weeks of Sundays Scaries spent dreading the workload awaiting you.
Consider your mental and physical well-being more often and cut yourself some slack on your to-do list.
8. Be proactive
If you suspect extra requests of your time, resources and energy are coming your way this year, be proactive.
Let your bosses and employees know your major goals, how you plan to help them and the best ways to get your help.