Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Stay Productive & Limit Stress This Holiday Season

Whether folks in your office are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day can be a precarious time for productivity. You want to honor requests for vacation and time to rejuvenate; however, work must still get done. The holiday season is stressful for most everyone, especially business owners, particularly as your busiest day at work is often the same time as your personal to-do list is a mile long.

It is during this time of year that being proactive, getting organized before the holiday rush and best utilizing your entire team can empower you with the focus necessary to achieve all of your work-life integration goals, even with this season's additional distractions. Start with these 6 steps to stay productive and make this your best holiday season thus far:

- Be clear about your priorities: Between family traditions, friends' parties, the annual company shindig, making sure the kids get to class with the holiday-themed snacks promised and much more, there are simply not enough hours in each day to accomplish everything you may wish to do. With time being a very limited resource, it is important to invest each minute in what really matters. Knowing what matters most to you and your loved ones up front makes those choices easier. Therefore, take time now to set your priorities and choose activities accordingly.

- Write it all down: Our brains are meant for thinking, not remembering; it is vital to write down what we need to remember, including shopping lists, baking needs, holiday card recipients, work deadlines, gift ideas and the endless list of tasks needing attention. Regardless of whether you choose pen and paper or an electronic solution, getting those items out of your brain and into a documented list will make it much easier to efficiently, effectively and productively address the season's commitments.

- Create a habit of being strategic: Take time weekly to establish your game plan. Then, since priorities can change quickly and new issues can arise, take time at the end of each day to wrap-up the ending workday while planning accordingly for the next day; take into consideration tasks that must be completed, preparations for time commitments, personal and professional growth as well as keeping your physical space in order.

- Take time off to handle holiday obligations: While you cannot add hours to your day, you can accomplish more in the limited time you do have by managing your actions to more singularly focus on what you are doing at any given time. With that in mind, it's important to schedule time off for shopping, cooking and decorating so you are fully focused when at work. Likewise, whenever possible, avoid the mall madness by shopping online, and use available apps or sites to optimize your savings, like Flipp, ScanLife, Shopkick, Shopular, Shopsavvy and SlickDeals.

- Plan and schedule vacations accordingly: Since many people want to be off during the holidays, it is essential to balance employee vacation requests with business needs. Consider having a policy for no vacations on especially busy days or limiting the number of days that team members can take off during the holidays. Plus, you will most likely want to limit how many employees can vacation on the same day, choosing whether to give the day off based on seniority or first-come-first-served.

- Know when to ask for help: Ask your team members to take tasks off your plate. Determine what can be automated, like with IFTTT, Podbox and Zapier. Then, consider outsourcing through Fiverr, Guru, Task Rabbit, Thumbtack, Upwork and 99Designs. These services allow you to find help without the obligation of a full-time or seasonal employee; plus, they fit nicely within budgetary constraints. Meanwhile, when hosting, invite your guests to pitch in, and, as you pick up your purchases around town, always opt for in-store wrapping options.

Take time for a little planning and employ all your available discipline to be proactive and productive in this dash to year-end. You'll better maintain your sanity while meeting so many more of your goals, which will lead to a successful fourth quarter and build a solid foundation for the new year.

What tactics do you employ to limit stress during this time of year? Which of the approaches mentioned above will you utilize for this hectic season?

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