There’s nothing more exciting than the holiday season. Family and friends gathering to celebrate, holiday music and carols, lights, cooler weather—it’s easily my favorite time of year. But as I settle into my desk chair after the perfect Thanksgiving holiday, I look at my calendar and terror is slowly creeping in. Only FOUR WEEKS until the end of the year?! How can that be? Between end-of-year recap reports, budgeting, incoming RFPs, work trips and 2016 planning, it’s enough to turn my usual calm-and-collected self into a nail-biting frenzy.
Deep breath in. Slowly breathe out.
It’s time to get productive.
So while I was thinking about being productive this morning, I stumbled across an Entrepreneur article titled, “Study Seinfeld to Learn Everything You Need About Productivity” and thought to myself, “Surely reading about being productive isn’t procrastinating, right?” The article details how Jerry Seinfeld made writing a daily habit to improve his comedy writing, which ultimately helped him develop a very successful career.
This quickly got me thinking about how I could apply this concept to my daily productivity level by applying a few tricks I do only on occasion when I feel the pressure of a deadline:
- List out priorities. When I say I love lists, I mean I LOVE lists. There is no better way to organize and prioritize your to-dos than putting them in a nice list—preferably in Excel. As I list out each assignment, I place a deadline next to each task and complete the items in order of the deadlines. As each task is completed, it’s crossed out with a thick red line. (My inner geek gets a huge rush with each red line.)
- Make a “focus” play list. Each morning I listen to a variety of “focus” playlists on Spotify. My favorite is “Productive Morning.” The instrumental beat really helps awaken my brain and keeps me focused on the task at hand. It also mutes distracting background noise.
- Silence your cellphone. As I type this post, my cell phone is lighting up with texts and notifications—and it’s quite distracting. With a quick swipe and click, the chatter is muted and my friends (and family) are pushed aside for now.
- Create a “to don’t” list. Did I mention I love lists? As I list out my priorities, I like to take the time to determine what can be pushed to a colleague for help. Researching a certain topic, calling vendors for pricing—whatever the assignment is that could eat up 10 minutes here or 20 minutes there—I pass this to someone who has a little more bandwidth than I do.
This month I’m making it a personal goal to turn these occasional actions into daily habits in hopes to ease the stress and meet project deadlines, while improving my professional management skills as well. As you refocus back on work (and you just spent five minutes reading my post, so the pressure is on), think about the productivity tricks you’d like to introduce into your daily routine and use this month to turn them into daily habits.