Busy is an understatement at this time of year for most people. One reason is that many of us are trying to fit four weeks of work into two this month, so we can take a holiday. Is the impossible possible?
Even for those of us who won’t get a long holiday, any time we save can be put to good use in December, for social events, creative projects, or simply having more time to rest.
So how can you fit four weeks of work into two?
Bin perfectionism and procrastination
We waste a lot of time on starting and ending things. But perfectionism and procrastination need to go out of the window for December. There’s no time this month for checking, checking and checking again, which we often do while we delay finishing things. Is it 90% done? Can you call it finished? If so, take a deep breath and publish, send, or say it’s complete. Don’t forget the Pareto Principle too. If we put our energy in the right place, 20% of our time can create 80% of our results. As well as endings, we can speed up beginnings. There’s no spare time for procrastination in December. So give yourself five minutes maximum to put something off, then get on with it.
Don’t create unnecessary work
Rather than complicating an issue or a project, ask yourself: how could I make it simpler? Could you involve one fewer layer of people? Could you take a decision individually rather than by committee? Could you give one date as an option for a meeting rather than three? This is the time to look for simple solutions. If someone else is creating unnecessary work, point this out, and state the facts – you’re all working to a tight deadline.
We can waste an awful lot of time on indecision, whether that’s over which present to buy for someone or even choosing what to have for lunch. While making a rushed decision over big issues can backfire, for smaller, unimportant matters, there’s no time to waste on indecision this month. Got a small decision to make? Make it straight away with no hesitation. You’ll save yourself vital minutes you need to bank.
Go all out
We can afford to go all out and work hard, play hard for a couple of weeks when we know things will quieten down very soon. Remember, January will feel very different. Prioritise, say no or not now to some things, and remember to eat and sleep. See my related article on 30 Ways To Stay Balanced At A Hectic Time Of Year for more tips on this.
Don’t just check
When you finally get a break, it’s time for your out of office message to do the work. Spend some time compiling an informative out of office reply, stating when you’ll be back, and perhaps linking to a recent piece of work you want to showcase. Give a phone number for emergencies to the people who need it. Then resist the temptation to check your inbox. Email begets email. Remember how hard you’ve worked during December to win yourself this time off, and give yourself that time. Recharge, relax, and spend time with the people important to you.
Frances Booth is author of The Distraction Trap: How to Focus in a Digital World. To get your free first chapter of The Distraction Trap, and for more productivity tips, join her mailing list here