The Holiday season is always a time of increased anxiety. We often feel pressured to socialize more, eat more, drink more, spend more, and even smile more. And, we're expected to do all of this in less available time.
Here are 7 strategies to protect your limited, valuable time, so that you can say "yes" to what and who is truly important.
1: Get Offline
During business hours, reduce social media time that's not connected to your business goals. Here are things you can do right now to regain potentially lost time online:
- Stop all notifications.
- Unsubscribe from groups.
- Ignore events/invites.
- Ignore pokes.
- Ignore online games.
2: Use Your Auto-Responder
Activate an auto-responder that says something like this: "Thanks for your email. I'm offline until 4:00. I'll return messages at that time."
3: Schedule Smart
Create a template for your day. Approach how you allocate your time the way an Olympic athlete would approach their training. Always, always focus on your areas of brilliance and delegate the rest.
4: Establish Boundaries and Say No
Say "NO" to committees, groups, coffees, lunches, dinners, happy hours, Chair positions, and anything else that strokes your ego by putting you in the spotlight at the expense of your sanity. Sanity trumps ubiquity any day.
Pick Your Events Carefully
With so many holiday events and networking invites, you can't go to everything and get a work day in.
Do you attend events where you know most attendees so that they keep you top of mind? Or go to events with new prospects?
It depends on your goals. If you know strategic customers will be present, it's important to feed those relationships. If you're choosing between friends (people you know) and qualified prospects (people you don't know), it depends if your goal is social or business.
All decisions we make inevitably link back to our desired outcomes. There is no perfect answer... just do what leads you to your desired end.
5: Know Your Productivity Cycle
It's important to pay attention to your own productivity cycle.
Ask yourself 'What's my most productive time of the day?' Then, schedule that time of day for working on your most important tasks or activities.
6: Choose a Realistic Number of Tasks to Complete; Stick to Them
I encourage my clients to commit to no more than 3-5 tasks per day. Short lists force us to prioritize what is most important.
7: Ink It When You Think It
One of my most valuable tools is the Notes tool on my phone. As soon as I think of a task - no matter how small, I write it down or record it. Do I need to email someone, call someone, or schedule a meeting? I make a note as soon as I think of it.
I also use use the note pad and microphone feature to record ideas, tasks, and priorities. Then I auto-send them to myself.
At conferences or networking events with speakers, I use the notepad speaker for notes, and then I email myself the notes when the event concludes.
General Business Strategies During the Holiday Season
In your business at this time of year:
- Expect a slower pace. People are taking time off. It may be more challenging to schedule meetings. Rather than getting frustrated, provide multiple meeting time options, including some after the first week of the new year.
- Expect confirmed meetings to get postponed. People often compress too much into the year-end schedule. As a result, some things may get bumped. You may not be everyone's top priority. Don't take it personally, and just go with it.
- Don't try to squeeze everything into year end.
- Attending networking events? You don't need to stay for the whole thing. Make an appearance, and stay for as long as it works for you.
General Personal Sanity-Saving Strategies During the Holiday Season
- Expect crowds, delays, and newly trained (clueless) workers in stores.
- Expect traffic. If you're running late, don't stress out.
- Cluster your appointments to minimize driving.
- Do video and conference calls in place of in-person meetings, if possible.
- Stay hydrated.
- Limit alcohol since it will be everywhere, and remember it's a depressant.
- Exercise as much as possible.
- Meditate daily even for a few minutes. Try Deepak Chopra's short guided meditations, directly available from his website (no app required).
- Eat right. Avoid the high carbs, sugar, and caffeine late at night.
- We often eat at later during the holiday season. This can throw off our sleep cycles. Monitor your intake.
Finally, remember to breathe. If you find yourself getting stressed out over a situation, ask yourself, "Will this even matter six months from now?" Chances are, it won't!