I’m aware there’s a certain irony in me writing this post, as I still have an awful lot to accomplish before Christmas! I’m sure it’s the case for many, and so before we get swept up in the usual Christmas panic, here are some ways in which we can maintain our normal pace of work, and focus on the things that really matter. Once we’ve cleared the decks, it will mean that we can leave the office with a clear conscience, switch-off from work and have a truly restful Christmas…
Aim to wrap-up one big project before 24th December
While it might seem like an overwhelming challenge, it’s important to plan to complete one big project before Christmas. Many of us work at our most creative and productive when we’re under pressure, and it’s good to channel that nervous energy into a satisfying output. Furthermore when you and/or your team are absorbed in a project, it’s always best to see it through while your minds are focused; leaving it hanging for a week or more can have a significant impact on the end result.
Keep yourself or team members focussed with daily tasks that will help towards the completion of this project. By breaking it down, it’s easier to stay motivated, and this will give you a daily sense of achievement that will hopefully carry you through to Christmas.
Tidy and organise your workspace!
A tidy desk is a tidy mind. After a wonderful break, coming back to a chaotic and messy desk, with the remnants of pre-Christmas deadlines, can be extremely de-motivating.
Before the office shutdown, use any downtime to get rid of the clutter to ensure you have the space to work comfortably and without distraction when you come back to work. It doesn’t need to be a chore: put on some Christmas tunes, pour yourself a glass of mulled wine, and it can even end up being fun.
If you want to take this one step further, Lorie Marrero, author of The Clutter Diet, suggests: “Get even more purposeful by aligning with management to do an entire office clean-out day, with everyone joining in. Wear jeans, order pizza for everyone, get extra shredding and recycling bins delivered, and make it happen.”
Chase any outstanding payments, and clear your own debts
Late payments impact over half (51%) of the UK’s small businesses, according to research by the Federation of Small Businesses, and January is often the leanest month for most companies. The last thing your business needs is a long list of outstanding debts and a poor cash-flow forecast for the first quarter of 2017.
To avoid this, aim to get your invoices out in plenty of time, along with a statement of any other outstanding payments you’re waiting on. Make it clear that you expect payments to be cleared by Friday 23rd December. Be sure to show the same respect with any payments that you or your company owe to others.
Clear out your inbox and in-tray
Your computer system will work faster if you have a clear email inbox. Prior to Christmas, organise any emails you need to keep into folders so you can find them easily, and delete the rest. Ensure you’ve replied to anything that needs a response.
Even though we live in a digital world, the paperwork build-up can still be impressive! I hope I’m not alone in having a stack of paperwork on my desk, which has probably accumulated since the start of the year. Once we set our minds to it, most paperwork can simply be filed, and the remainder may need a quick action before it can be removed from your desk and shredded. Plan to completely clear any paperwork before the holiday break.
Create time to strategise for 2017
Although it’s a busy time of year, there can also end up being some downtime as the volume of meetings and conference calls dwindle. Use this time to discuss the direction and strategy of your organisation with your team and the entire organisation; this will help everyone to feel empowered about the role they play so that they’re more motivated to come back to the office in January!
Within this discussion, it can help to find out what your employees care about most. There is much research to show that financial incentive isn’t the motivator we used to think it was. Check out the TED Talk by Daniel Pink, author of the bestselling business book ‘Drive’, to learn more about the subject and hear why people are driven to do things because they matter, or because they like it, they’re interesting, or part of something important.
Good luck! We hope this is a helpful checklist, and if you have anything to add we’d love to hear below. Keep motivated for the final stretch, and it’s not long at all until you’ll be ready to head off for the holidays!