5 tips for improved productivity during the holiday season.
🎵 It’s the most eventful time of the year.
That’s right—it’s December, and just when we all feel ready to start winding down, our lives are winding up.
From cross-country travel and holiday parties, to wrapping up Q4 and planning for 2019, there doesn’t seem to be much time to settle down, reflect, and spend time with the people who matter most as we prepare for the new year.
Before you give in to holiday dread, check out these simple tips for getting it all done this season, so that you can spend your time when and where it matters most.
1. Plan ahead and set SMART goals.
In times of high stress, it can be tempting to dive headfirst into a mountain of work and only evaluate our strategy after the fact.
That—or procrastinate until the last minute and spend the entire “vacation” catching up on everything we missed.
Success, however, often comes down to just making a good plan and sticking to it.
You can ensure that your plan is productive by setting SMART goals—objectives defined by the following attributes:
- Specific: Don’t think, speak, or write in generalities—understand and communicate exactly what you want to accomplish.
- Measurable: Identify the metrics you’ll use to indicate success.
- Attainable: Set a goal that you can actually achieve based on time and resource constraints.
- Relevant: Just because a goal is easy to meet doesn’t mean it’s something you actually need to focus your energy around. Set goals that will help your business grow, period.
- Time-bound: Someone once said that a goal without a deadline is just a dream—and they were right. For the holidays specifically, consider goals that will help you meet end-of-year deadlines.
Lots of different kinds of goals can fit within the SMART parameters.
Maybe you’re a manager who needs to complete end-of-year reviews for your direct reports. You could set a goal to complete one per week, or more depending on the size of your team and the time you have available.
Or maybe you’re a salesperson trying to meet your annual numbers. You could evaluate your current accounts to determine which ones are closest to closing, and create a strategy to push them through.
Just reading this post, you’re likely already thinking about some SMART goals you could set. Write them down now! I’ll wait…
Done? Let’s move forward.
2. Lift technological barriers to productivity.
As you’re developing your SMART goals and beginning to execute on your plan, you might encounter technological barriers that you’ll have to consider.
For example, for you or your team to complete a necessary process, you might have to allow time for things like data entry, or pulling multiple reports to access the information you need.
If you find that you encounter a lot of these kinds of issues, it may also be time to start looking to create new solutions and improve processes as 2019 approaches.
As you evaluate ways to increase productivity, here are a few key things to keep in mind.
- Any great technology should make it as simple and practical as possible for you to do what you need to do.
This is true across time and space. The wheel did that for transportation. The cloud is doing that for data. Your enterprise applications should do that for the work you do.
- Off-the-shelf solutions might not deliver the results you expect.
When evaluating enterprise apps to increase your productivity, note that generic enterprise applications are built for generic use cases.
If your needs are unique, or if you need to integrate with other applications or data sources, you may need to choose a different path.
- Custom solutions can tax resources.
Creating a custom enterprise application via traditional development methods will likely take significantly more time and money than an off-the-shelf enterprise application, though you’re more likely to get the functionality you’re looking for.
Many organizations use no-code and low-code platforms to expedite the development process.
- Sometimes it’s not just the tech—it’s the process.
Before you dive into enterprise app demos or start to talk budget, make sure you’ve completed a thorough evaluation of the way your team works.
Technology aside, what process would work best for everyone involved? Look for solutions that will adapt to you—not the other way around.
- Take inspiration from the experts.
BHGE provides one of our favorite examples of skyrocketing productivity—during the holidays and beyond—through a massive digital transformation.
In this video, Shan Jegatheeswaran, VP of Sales Operations at BHGE, shares that in the company’s digital transformation journey, they’ve actually reached a point where technology doesn’t stress them out so much—in fact, technology is taken completely off the table during discussions, and they focus on other issues instead.
3. Make the most of each day.
Once you’ve got your enterprise apps under control, it’s important to maximize the value of each team member each day leading up to the holidays, as you’re often working with less time and less staff to get things done.
While not everyone considers themselves a “morning person,” many people find that they’re more productive when they tackle their biggest hurdles at the beginning of the day.
If you’re struggling to stay focused, try completing your most challenging tasks early in the day (like strategy meetings and writing proposals), and save the afternoons for work that requires less brain power (like expense reports, invoices, answering emails, and scheduling meetings).
4. Stay active.
I know, I know… everyone tells you this. But there’s a good reason—it works!
As friends, family, and coworkers make and share holiday treats at home and around the office, high-calorie temptations become more and more frequent.
Even if weight isn’t a major concern, excess sugar and fats, while delicious and providing a quick energy boost, can eventually cause you to feel sluggish and less productive.
You can combat these negative effects (while still indulging a little) by scheduling breaks for physical activity—whether they’re small breaks throughout the day, longer breaks during lunch or before/after work, or some combination of both.
You don’t have to jump fully into high-intensity interval training or weight lifting—just whatever type of activity works for you.
One company found that taking two 15-minute walks per day increased company productivity by 30%.
Some people, including Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, have historically preferred walking meetings where appropriate.
Who knows? You might turn a holiday plan into a habit you stick with all year.
5. Actually take some time off.
Listen, I’m writing this blog fresh off of a week of vacation, and let me tell you something—you need it. If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that offers paid time off, you should take it.
Likewise, if you’re in a leadership position with your company, you should actively encourage your employees to use their vacation time.
In the United States specifically, the majority of managers agree that vacation improves health and well-being (82%), boosts morale (82%), and alleviates burnout (81%), according to a study the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off.
Yet in the same study, researchers found that 54% of employees ended the year in 2016 with unused time off, collectively sacrificing 662 million vacation days.
Preparing for the holidays won’t make much of a difference if you intentionally don’t take time to rest and recharge, without anxiously checking email or worrying about what new projects might await you when you return.
However, with these tips, we hope you’ll find some peace this holiday season—maybe even a little bit of fun.