We’re at the point in the year when we’re wrapping up the plans we’ve been working on and finalizing our outcomes and reports for the year, while putting together the strategies and plans for the coming year. If you’re a Sagittarius like me, you’ve got the added bonus of a birthday thrown in with those holidays & tasks, too.
It can be difficult to completely focus with all that’s going on – I mean, anyone would be distracted by all those twinkling Christmas lights. There are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself on track and get everything done in the nick of time.
Make a plan…
Writing down everything you need to get done is a good way to hold yourself accountable for actually getting things done, but it’s a process. Take an evening over the coming weekend, sit down with your favorite beverage and write down everything you have to do between now and the new year. Yup – a whole month of stuff. Write down everything, no matter how big or small, that you feel you need to remember to do. Once you’ve got your list, however long it may be, start breaking it down in order of importance.
Personally, I like to use Post-its once I’ve written down every little item on a list. I write each item on a Post-it, color coded by whether it’s work, personal, fun, etc., with the due date on the bottom. Then I get to work with a big piece of cardboard or the wall next to my desk to organize all of the items I have to do – from mailing Christmas cards to finishing a huge client project.
…And stick to it.
Once you’ve got your plan, you’ve gotta stick to it for it to actually work for you. Take your list, or Post-its, and start making a schedule. Plot out time for every item on your list, big and important, small and mundane, or anywhere in between. Be realistic about the amount of time you allot for each item, too. Planning to give something more time than it needs is better than not giving it enough and ruining your entire plan.
Use your time wisely.
That plan you create doesn’t have to just stick to 9-5 and your evenings and weekends. Do you commute to work? If you drive, use that time to catch up on podcasts or books you’ve been wanting to listen to, check in with family and friends you’ve been meaning to call, think about gifts for your loved ones, plan out your meals, etc. If you use public transportation, your hands are free to make lists, make notes, read a book, catch up on emails, peruse social media, whatever floats your boat.
Don’t waste your weekends.
When there’s a lot of stuff going on at work and in life, the natural reaction is to want those two days just to yourself. You’ll wanna sleep in, binge on Netflix, order delivery and do as little as possible to conserve your energy. Unfortunately, hanging around in your pjs doing nothing is exactly that – doing nothing. It won’t make you feel any better to spend every weekend laying around in bed. It’s 48 hours better spent tackling your non-work related tasks.
Go the extra mile.
It’s hard to want to go above and beyond when there are more things on your to do list than there are hours in the month, but even the smallest things can help keep you fresh in people’s minds and for good reason. An easy thing is to send holiday cards to people you’ve enjoyed working with in the past year: clients, coworkers, media contacts – anyone you want to know how much you appreciate them and that you’re wishing them well in the coming year. A quick, personal note, a cup of coffee or homemade cookies are just a few of the many great little ways to go the extra mile.
Don’t skip the socializing.
Deadlines may be weighing heavy on you and you may think that skipping all non-mandatory social gatherings is the best way to get back some of your sanity and time, but don’t RSVP no just yet. Taking a break and spending some time with your coworkers outside the daily grind is a great way to unwind a bit. Maybe you’ll find more to talk about after the holidays than just the weather.
I’m a big fan of the handwritten note. It’s a nice, thoughtful way to show appreciation that just takes a little time and thought, and some great stationery. The holidays are the perfect time to make people who have helped you throughout the year feel appreciated. Go pick out some cute, professional looking cards that match your own personal brand, or design some for yourself on Vistaprint or a similar site, and spend an evening watching Christmas movies & writing out thank you messages to everyone who matters to you.
Update things when you can.
It seems stupid to add more things to your list, but taking a few minutes to update regularly used files when you can is a great proactive step. Think media lists, editorial calendars, Google Alerts, Google Calendar, your email, etc. The more you can organize and straighten up before the holidays, the less stressful it will be coming back and settling in after the new year.
Don’t leave things unfinished.
It may be really tempting to say “I’ll finish that later,” but leaving a pile of things to do after the holidays will only make them that much more stressful. Instead of leaving things looming over you, make sure you check every item off your work to do list. And since you and your team members may not be taking the same days off over the next few weeks, making sure everything is complete on your end will guarantee that no one is waiting around for one of your responsibilities.
Netflix is the devil when it comes to getting things done. So is social media, your phone, emails, TV, playlists (sometimes) and anything else that will distract you from the end goal – crossing everything off your list. Get rid of as many of them as you can, pick your favorite Spotify playlist (I’m really loving the Charlie Brown Christmas Album for getting everything done!) and get to work.
Make time for YOU.
Collectively, we’re pretty bad at making time for ourselves. I’ve read so many things written by other PR girls recently talking about the struggle to shut their brains off and relax, but taking the time to do things just for you – not for work, not for anyone else – is crucial to keeping your sanity, especially over the holidays. Find some time over the next few weeks, turn off your phone and do something that is only for you – take a bath, bake something, cook your favorite meal, read a book, go for a walk, go shopping for you, whatever you want 🙂