Tips and tricks from an efficiency expert!
It’s that time of year again, whether you like it or not, the holiday season is here. As we wrap up year-end activities in business we are also starting to deal with the pressures and stress of the holiday season. Don’t fret, I compiled my top 10 list of productive ‘things to do’ to make your holidays less crazy and make them more efficient and productive so you can actually enjoy the season.
Tip 1- Start thinking of your holiday plans NOW: I know, for some people it may seems too early to be thinking of the holidays. But when planning activities it’s always best to think ahead and work backwards. This is a trick all great project managers’ use and can easily be incorporated in your personal life. Working backwards lets you know how many weeks you have to plan and organize your activities and gives you the reality check to see if you are able to accomplish it all.
Tip 2- Perform a brain dump: Sit down at your desk and dump all the things you have to do on paper. Create lists around these items. One list could be for a party you’re organizing. Another could be for shopping etc… Doing this allows you to free your mind from all the stress of remembering your laundry list of stuff you need to do.
Tip 3- Standardize your list: If you do the same thing over and over again each year, then create a master list and save it in excel or word. Standardizing your ways of working allows you to do the ‘heavy lifting’ (list creation) once and fine-tune the list, as needed, based on learnings from the previous year.
Tip 4- Label everything: What’s the best way to organize holiday decorations? Buy containers to put all your seasonal items in and label the contents (with detail) on the outside. This allows you to quickly pull out the things you need and to know where they go once you are done using them. This is a huge time saver.
Tip 5- Incorporate ‘voluntold’ into the chores for the season: ‘Voluntold’ is a business term for people who are tapped on the shoulder at work and told that doing something would be beneficial for their career (this is the told part) but allowing them to make the final decision (this is the volunteer part). Use this concept with family members to help distribute the holiday workload. If you performed tip 1 to 4 this will be really easy. Doing this now will eliminate the excuse of someone not having enough time to help out and will save you from doing everything.
Tip 6- Play the elimination game: The holidays bring lots of new things in our home which could mean clutter down the road. Knowing that this will happen, prepare for it! Have everyone, including the kids, eliminate 2-3 items to make way for the new things that will be entering the home. As an added bonus, donate the eliminated items so someone else can enjoy them.
Tip 7- Divide and conquer: Segregate the “must have to do’s” from the “nice to have to dos” on your list. To make this work you need to be honest with yourself. Does all this stuff have to happen? Buying your food for the big home cook dinner is a must have, painting the bathroom for the holidays is a nice to have. When you understand the difference it liberates you to make the hard choices of what to eliminate when the days get busier as deadlines approach.
Tip 8- Do a little bit every week: Doing a little bit every week goes a long way. Set aside 30 min to 1 hour, three days a week to your holiday list. It’s so much harder to accomplish activities at the last minute but much easier to do a little at time.
Tip 9- Know your limits: Spending money or feeling obligated to do so can cause a lot of stress for people. Expectations and assumptions are what contributes to this. Break the cycle by discussing this with family members NOW. By preparing your activities in advance, this gives you the data you need to support the “why” behind your limits.
Tip 10- Learn from today to prepare for tomorrow: Lessons learned are a big part of business, especially in projects. Take this concept and use it for the holidays. Conduct a post-holiday journal writing session for yourself. Take 30 min out of your day on Jan 1. Look back at everything you did for the holidays. What worked well, what didn’t? What do you want to do again? Etc… This reflection is gold for the following season since you’ll likely forget all the little things that drove you nuts!
Take just one tip and you’ll see a difference in how you approach the holidays. Like all events in life, it’s how we prepare for them that can make and break the success of the event and stress levels associated with them. I wish you all a joyous and productive holiday season!
What preparation tips do you have that help you be more productive during the holiday season? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!