Previously Published on News Break
Relaxing in front of a toasty fireplace, we sip on hot chocolate and sing with our eight-year-old daughter. She has just discovered Karaoke for the first time and seems to be the next rock superstar, ready to make her big break.
The holidays are for reconnecting with loved ones, spending time with family and rekindling the friendships we almost lost to the turbulence last year. It’s a time of great joy, warmth and spirit — but also a time of great stress and distraction. We must find time to relax for the first quarter. Yet, we must also stay productive in preparation for the upcoming new year.
With the power to ultimately make or break first-quarter results, we should not reflect on our achievements, tally up our successes or equate our long, hard days we spent in the office to the growth of the business. Instead, we should begin planning for the future, set new objectives and give ourselves a head start. We can dwell on what went wrong, or we can point out what we did right. Reflecting will get us nowhere, it’s the action that changes lives.
Whether we’re still in the office or out for Christmas break, there are a number of ways we can stay productive, get ahead and be in-demand, whether you’re currently employed or seeking something better. In fact, here are few tips to not only keep you on the right path, but to help you plan ahead, so you can better enjoy the overall Holiday Season.
Flex your project management skills.
With so many upcoming distractions — events, parties, galas, family get-togethers, baking, cleaning and shopping — Santa shouldn’t be the only one making a list and checking it twice.
Create a few lists.
Make sure you are taking advantage of the downtime or the time-off (depending on whether you’re currently working, on break or unemployed). Use it to achieve your immediate goals for career, life and personal development.
Prioritize the tasks.
Separate all of your projects from larger to small. Tackle the larger projects and fill in the day with the smaller ones, as you can. Putting off the larger projects may leave them undone with very little time left to find yourself ahead.
Delegate what you can.
Take advantage of your little ones being home on their breaks. Use it as both a bonding and learning experience for both of you. Teach them how to carry out the smaller tasks, show them how they can earn a few dollars along the way. Allow them to handle the mundane, while you focus on what’s most important. Work as a team, and get the job done — together!
Research shows that this also prepares children to be more enthusiastic about their future careers, while providing them with experience. In the short-term, they get to spend more time with Mommy or Daddy — and you get to spend more time with them, too!
Initially, your plans may things that really aren’t that important. They’re either redundant or just not a factor in the work that’s at hand. Sometimes, we can cut corners or automate a few steps. The more we can eliminate, the faster we get through our plans. The faster we get through our plans, the longer we can relax — or, at least, limit the number of days we spend slaving in the office in the upcoming year ahead.
Don’t forget to check off your progress.
There’s nothing better and more motivating than a visual checklist of things that we have done and what’s yet left for us to do. The more we get done, the more we can check off.. Smaller projects become motivators and the larger tasks just don’t seem so heavy anymore.
Set expectations, but realize you might not be able to meet all of them — especially if you give yourself unrealistic timelines or bite off more than you can chew.
Don’t forget to communicate. If you need help, ask for it. You will find that during this time of year, especially, there are others more than willing to help you tackle your goals and help you get ahead. If you can’t meet specific deadlines, communication will also serve as key in retaining healthy relationships. If you are unsure about the direction that something must go, don’t be afraid to ask. There’s nothing worse than doing something, only to redo it again — only right the next time.
Focus on the end goal.
Ask yourself — “What is it that I would truly like to achieve?” If you’re currently employed and still in the office during the holiday season, this has probably already been answered for you. But if you’re out of the office or actively looking for work, evaluate what you’re currently doing and where you would like to be during the upcoming new year. Then, begin to focus on where you would like to be in the next five-to-ten.
If you’re looking to change careers or looking for new employment, develop strategies that will help get you there. Take this time to position yourself as someone serious, ready, willing and capable. Challenge yourself. Reinvent yourself. And, focus on rebranding yourself within the workforce.
Here are a few things that you can create during your downtime to will help position you for better opportunities ahead:
● A New Resume & Cover Letter
● A Portfolio & Content Deliverables
● An Online Presence & Networking Messages
● A Digital EPKs & Executive Bios
Schedule, and actually take a break.
Workaholics have every real intention of “taking a break once this is finished,” but then they never get to it. Something else “just popped up” and has taken them away from their previous plan of relaxing. Their family advises against this, their doctors have scolded them — and sooner or later, we see them again, plugged up to a hospital bed.
Perhaps the reason they never get ahead, despite their hard, continuous labor, is the fact that they are constantly doing just that. They end up burnt out, working slower and slower, and becoming overwhelmed as they over-promise their attention. Their families are neglected, their home lives are in shambles and their productivity just seems to wane. And because of this, their purpose has been defeated, because eventually they shut down and need to take the time away.
Snappy, exhausted during the holiday season and steadily falling behind, take a break to increase your productivity, regenerate and come back with fresh ideas. Whether it’s a few weeks, few days, few hours or minutes, there’s scientific proof that breaktime leads to a happier, more productive workforce — and that should include you!
Professional development benefits your career objectives.
This is a perfect time for a little professional development and, actually, companies like Groupon and Lynda (now LinkedIn Learning) offer some amazing discounts on training and certification programs around the holiday season. Understand that it’s going to take continued evolution to meet the demands of an innovative workforce. Take this time to learn a new skill, obtain that certification and attend that cool new seminar.
Be Realistic — JUST SAY NO.
Don’t overpromise, especially during the holiday season. You know this is the last quarter. You know you have a lot of work to get done. And, you know your home life is about to get a bit more demanding. What you might not know, however, is that it’s okay to say no.
Be realistic. Even the most aggressive client understands the demands of this season. While they may not seem so understanding, inherently they know that business is winding down, resources aren’t always available. They are expecting delays going into the new year, and they have no choice but to deal with it.
“Procrastinating gives us a rush of dopamine — the body’s feel-good chemical,” states Kory Kogon of FranklinCovey, the world leader in corporate training and professional development. Some claim this is why most of us perform well under pressure. Others argue that it’s the reason we continue to push things off until the last minute. Few will tell you that it’s because of stringent deadlines and prioritizing other elements before getting to this particular step. But, it is most likely a sense of all three. And, in any account, we’ve got it all wrong.
Tackle those tasks immediately. Plan to make mistakes. Get it done and over with. At the very least, you will find yourself ahead.