The Christmas holiday season is eagerly anticipated. But the forthcoming festivities mean that the number of working days in the month is curtailed – and at a time when planning for the new business year makes life busier than ever.
So how can you maximise available working days to ensure a fully relaxing festive period? Richard Morris, UK CEO of workspace provider Regus offers three top tips for a dynamic and productive December.
1. Prioritise and schedule
It sounds obvious but prioritising tasks is particularly important during the shortened working month of December. Using Covey’s Matrix can help you to quickly prioritise the tasks you should focus on.
Everyone works to different routines but organisation and planning will help make each working day as efficient as possible.
It isn’t a case of working longer hours, Bob Cratchit style, in a desperate bid to get everything done. Rather, look to optimise existing working hours and to eliminate processes that drain time from the day.
Easily available hacks such as flagging priority emails and setting automated reminders can help you get on top of tasks. Also, consider whether meetings need to be face-to-face, or whether technology such as Skype can reduce time spent away from the desk.
Consider what needs to be done before the break and what can be carried over. It’s important to get this balance right.
There is no point flogging yourself throughout December but, equally, returning to a mammoth January workload will get the new year off to a testing start. Get organised, tick tasks off as you complete them and get on top of the challenge.
2. Cut the commute
On average, UK workers spend around eight hours per week commuting to and from the office – the equivalent of an entire working day. Eliminating the commute – even for just a day or two – can help you maximise your working days in the run-up to Christmas.
Working from home is one way to get around the stress of commuting to the workplace. While not every full-time employee has this luxury, more and more organisations are allowing a certain number of days a week or month for their employees to report from home.
With the increased access to technology and other applications like instant messaging and cloud storage making it easier to work from anywhere, the practice of working away from the office will only grow.
Working from home, however, isn’t for everyone. For those who still prefer a formal office setting without the office commute, the trick is to select a professional work environment that’s near to home and that enables you to turn up, plug in and get productive. Working from cafes or from home may sound appealing but these places can often be distracting.
Having this extra time at the beginning and end of each working day can really help you get on top of time-consuming yet essential tasks such as book-keeping.
What’s more, you’ll probably feel fresher and more energised from a change of scene and from not having to do battle with timetables, traffic jams and the traveling hordes.
You may even save some money on train fares or petrol – always handy during the gift-buying season.
3. Incentivise and reward
It’s nearly Christmas – treat yourself! Set yourself goals and give yourself a small reward once you’ve ticked them off. A meal out, a drink with friends, a trip to the theatre – anything to make you feel good and to help you get through the task list.
Try not to let business matters encroach on leisure time. Set a deadline to wrap up your work each day and leave on time. This is easier said than done in today’s always-on digital age but never feel guilty about logging out and enjoying some ‘me-time’.
In fact, allowing yourself to escape from work matters is understood to boost wellbeing and to lead to greater productivity when you are at work.
The French government recently passed legislation which gave workers ‘the right to disconnect’ from email when out of working hours – recognising the importance of a sensible work-life balance.
Here, the onus is on individuals to manage their own behaviour – and optimising the productivity of working hours will better enable you to switch off at home.
With a little forethought and planning the December workload can be skilfully negotiated, leaving you free to fully embrace the Christmas break.
Indeed, adapting routines to be at your most productive during this month may well lead to a permanent change to your working patterns for the new year and onwards.
Certainly employers are recognising the productivity benefits of a more flexible approach to the working day – moving away from the fixed-office, fixed-hours approach to enable people to plan their working day around their individual lifestyle.
All evidence points to this driving greater productivity and resulting in a happier and healthier workforce.
More on productivity
You can find lots more hints, tips and tricks to boost your, and your team’s productivity in these other ByteStart guides;
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- How to increase productivity and positivity with an employee engagement scheme
- A few small changes that can really boost your productivity
- Increasing your personal efficiency – how to get more done in less time
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