It’s hard to stay focused and get things really done at the end of the year. Holiday parties, kids out of school, shopping for gifts, family visits and general malaise all chip in to make it difficult. If you can manage to focus, though, you can wrap up the year with strength and set the stage for a better new year. Call it “sailing into a strong head wind” – you have a great opportunity to finish strong. Here are our ideas on how and why you should be productive at the end of the year.
Set the Stage
First, are you going to be out of the office on particular days? Let clients and co-workers know well in advance what your plans are so you can minimize “last minute” damage (e.g., “I didn’t know you’d be gone…”). Also, use an OOTO (vacation) message during your break. Our favorite is “I will be out of the office starting (Starting Date) through (End Date) returning (Date of Return). If you need immediate assistance, please contact (Contact Name) at (Contact Email Address). Otherwise I will respond to your email upon my return.”. It lets people know you won’t be on call over the holiday.
One trick we like is fibbing about the last day. If you’re out the 24th through the 1st, tell everyone you’re out the 23rd through the 2nd. It adds a little buffer to help you get ahead.
Look at your progress over the course of the year. What did you accomplish from your monthly and annual goals? Are there things you could wrap up to make the year just a little better? If you’re on the 5 yard line, what’s it take to get that project into the end zone? Your assessment can factor in to plans for the coming year too.
Hopefully you’re tracking success with metrics. Aside from the “feeling” you have, what are the hard numbers? Look at all the key indicators, not just revenue or profit. Look at the underlying details to see how things are truly playing out.
As you reflect on the year, thank those who helped you or the business meet objectives. The highest motivation for employee engagement is praise, so be generous (but sincere) with it. If YOU were successful, reward yourself (a nice dinner? a special purchase?). If you utilize delayed gratification for personal rewards, now is the time 🙂
Next, purge files and piles. Get rid of the clutter on your desk and in your filing cabinet. All the extra time digging through piles adds up, so prune the mess and save time after the break.
During your review, what did you see on the downside? Remove distractions and time wasters from your routine – “administrivia” costs valuable time, unnecessary meetings that you continue to hold because they were once useful.
Who are the star performers? Who are the weak ones? Is it time to make some changes? Hire? Replace? Remove?
“We should seek the atmosphere and the surroundings that call forth the best that is in us.” That famous quotation can also be an assessment of your business. Are you in the right place? Are there changes to make to your company culture that will engage everyone better. Recommend or plan for changes that help.
Use the downtime to make a big to-do list. Write down (or type) everything you can think of that you need to change or do.
Then from your massive to-do list, rank issues top to bottom. What will make the biggest impact? What is easy to do with high return?
Are your metrics the RIGHT metrics? Perhaps you need to add or modify what you measure. Keep it simple (no Occam’s Razor) too – did we mention removing administrivia? 🙂
Also, perform a gap analysis to find where you’re missing essential resources. Do you need training? Do you need new software? Do you need a bigger budget?
If you improve 1% per day every day, it adds up. Make incremental changes next year based on what you’ve learned in your review. It’ll add up to much better results over time.
Finally, take a breath during the break. You’ve cheated the system by reviewing when you had the chance, but let it go so you can free your mind. Enjoy family time. Read a good book. Recharge your battery (not just on your iPhone). You’ll be able to start fresh to tackle the Big Hairy Audacious Goals you set for yourself before the break.
Being Productive at the End of the Year
We love productivity hacking. We’re very goal-oriented and love to help our customers get more done too (that’s our goal). We love sharing ideas with you and hope you’re being productive at the end of the year, but more than that, EVERY DAY. We’re asked, no EXPECTED, to get more done in less time. That means building smart personal systems, using good tools (like CaptureAudio and CaptureNotes!), focusing on the right tasks, following through with productive work habits and reviewing the metrics daily, weekly monthly and annually. It’s possible. It’s feasible. It’s what we do. Enjoy the holiday and let’s make next year even better.