Staying productive over the holidays
Here it is: the final stretch of 2020. As we power through these last couple of months, it’s important to protect yourself from as much additional stress during the holidays as possible. Before you find yourself worrying too much about how you’re going to get everything done by the end of the year, read through our top tips for staying sane over the holidays.
1. Make a to-do list… and check it twice
Ahh, to-do lists. This is where we finally come clean about the secret to all our success. Making a to-do list is so important when things start piling up. Being able to see exactly what you have going on allows you to physically schedule time to get each item done. It’s also a great strategy for prioritizing: when you can see your actual tasks, you can easily write them down by priority, instead of working through them in a random order. Plus, who doesn’t love that feeling of crossing things off and watching the list get smaller and smaller?
One of our favorite Traction® Tools features to use this time of year (and all year-round, if we’re being honest) is the Context Aware To-Do list. You can even add things to your list straight from your Level 10 Meeting. Ease of use is especially important this time of year, so we definitely recommend looking into the unique features in our EOS® software.
2. Save online browsing for after hours
When you get overwhelmed with everything on your plate, it’s natural for your brain to avoid it at all costs. That’s when your mind starts to wander, and before you know it, you’re browsing social media, adding holiday presents to random shopping carts, etc. The thing is, that “online only for a limited time!” rabbit hole is real. What may have started as an innocent attempt to get you and all your friends matching sweaters will soon turn into spending an entire morning mindlessly clicking around your frequented sites.
Instead of “shopping over your lunch break,” schedule time to catch up on all things related to personal online browsing for immediately after work (while you’re still at your computer). Not only will you have the satisfaction of getting your online holiday shopping done, but you’ll also be making progress toward your high priority agenda items by remaining focused.
3. Schedule time to panic
“But Traction Tools, why would I take even more time out of my day to invite stress instead of just powering through?” Excellent question; thank you for asking.
The reason this works is based on a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tool meant to help people manage that “spiraling out of control” feeling. Scheduling time to address your worry and stress trains your mind to better control negative emotions, which frees up the rest of your day to work uninterrupted by stressed-out feelings.
An example workday schedule for the holiday season:
- 9-10: Emails, administrative stuff, etc.
- 10-12: Meetings
- 12-1: Lunch break
- 1-3: Work through task list
- 3-3:30: FREAK OUT
- 3:30-5: Finish task list
- 5-whenever: Online holiday shopping
Take some time (anywhere from 10-30 minutes is recommended) to identify what’s causing your stress. Grab a notebook and or open a new document on the computer and write down everything that’s stressing you out. Now, when the 30 minutes are up, close the notebook and leave it there for the rest of the day. It might be hard at first, but we promise your sanity will thank us later.
4. Take a personal day (or two)
We know not everyone has the ability to take a ton of time off, especially over the holiday season. With that being said, it’s so important to find some time for yourself when you can. If you’re someone who books up their evening and weekends until there are truly no more hours in the day, consider cutting back. Take a day—whether it’s time off from work, or a dedicated day over the weekend—to let your body decompress.
If you don’t love downtime, that’s fine! Take the day to get a workout in, clean your house, spend time with a friend or just snooze all day; whatever you need to do to reset your mind and body so you can come back to work with the energy you need to power through the rest of the year.
5. Get comfortable saying “No”
Did you just cringe? Honestly, same. This might not be the most natural thing for you to do, especially as we close out the calendar year. This is the time of year where a lot of people have the opportunity to go above and beyond to prove you have what it takes to help the company reach their year-end goal.
But here’s the thing: If you overwork yourself during an already stressful time of the year, you’re not going to perform as well as you would by taking on a more manageable amount of responsibility. We definitely encourage you to assess what your current workload looks like, and determine whether you should cut back in order to really thrive at what you’re doing.
Some ways to say “no” at work:
- “Thank you so much for thinking of me for X, but I need to focus my energy on X, because Z will make it a much bigger success.”
- “I can definitely take this on if it takes priority over X, however, that means the timeline for X will need to be pushed back by [give realistic ETA]..”
- “That is an awesome opportunity, however I have dedicated this week to completing X. I think [insert coworker] could be a really great fit to help with your project.”
Be confident in your decision to turn down a project at work. Your time is valuable, and if you really do not have the capacity to complete a task in an optimal way, it might be better for both you and your organization to turn it down or add it to a backlog for later.
6. Remember: this season is unlike any other
Have you heard that 2020 has been a strange year? In case you haven’t heard about it enough, we’re here to remind you one more time. Why? Because it’s important to alter how you normally would handle this holiday season based on the fact that this year is inherently different than any other.
You may not be as productive or energetic as you have been in years past, and honestly? That’s okay. A lot of businesses were put through the ringer this year: from losing business, to being forced to lay off valuable employees. Not to mention the fact that many companies converted operations to remote work, which is not an easy thing to do if you’re not already used to it.
Be kind to yourself. You’ve made it this far, and you’ll make it through the holidays too.
- Gina Richard