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7 tips to maximise your year-end productivity

11 Dec 2023

Maximising your year-end productivity is all about balance and cutting yourself some slack while preparing for January.

Those last few weeks before the holidays are notoriously difficult to get through, no matter how much you love your job. Cold, frosty mornings; dark early evenings and the anticipation of a few days’ much deserved holidays are just too much to bear.

And most of us are the same way; you may notice colleagues are slower to respond to emails or they’re a little bit distracted. Leave it until the new year at least if you want to take on a new project because trying to get anything off the ground in December is a tad unrealistic.

That said, work doesn’t stop because we’re feeling a little bit sluggish. You still have to show up and get things done. Plus, if you let your productivity slide too much in December you will have a busy and stressful January. Don’t do that to yourself – January is tough, too.

We asked Avery Morgan, chief communications officer at student services website EduBirdie, for some advice on how to get through the long pre-holidays period.

Listen to your body

“The long, dark months throw our circadian rhythms off, sapping our motivation, energy levels and mental wellbeing,” says Morgan. “But treating it is often just a matter of listening to your body. Spend time tracking your personal energy levels – when do you feel fatigued and when do you get the most done? – and adjust your schedule accordingly. If you work better in the morning, do, then cut yourself some slack as the sun starts to dip.”

Seems relatively simple, doesn’t it?

Get used to saying no

Morgan advises people not to “overcommit” as that will only come back to haunt you.

“Divide your tasks into four categories based on urgency and importance, then focus only on the high-priority items that will help you achieve your main objectives. When your colleague approaches you with an additional project? If it doesn’t align with your core goals, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’.”

Take tasks one step at a time

“Set your main year-end goal and work backwards from there, creating a roadmap of smaller milestones. Reverse engineering your objective can help to break it down into smaller steps, making it easier to stay on course and giving you some extra motivation every time you complete a step.”

Decline those unnecessary meetings

Morgan is a fan of ‘no meeting’ days to get more done. Companies like Shopify have implemented no meeting days all year round as a way of encouraging staff to focus on ‘deep work’.

“You will be surprised how much you can accomplish when you’re not constantly sitting on Zoom calls,” says Morgan.

Make progress reviews a weekly ritual

“Set time aside each week to review your goals, accomplishments and the challenges ahead. If you find yourself behind schedule or feel your productivity has dropped, determine why and what you need to do to get back on track. Maybe you’ve lost motivation and need to tackle a problem from a new angle, or perhaps you need a breather in the afternoon to get over that post-lunch slump.”

Set aside ‘psychological detox’ days

“Give yourself a day to forget about your workload and focus on creative hobbies,” says Morgan. “A good break can recharge the mind, enhancing your problem-solving abilities once you return to work. While you’re at it, log out of your socials. It might offer a dopamine boost, but research shows that endless scrolling is destroying our ability to concentrate.” In other words, be kind to yourself and log off.

Give yourself a break

“It’s tempting to hustle and tick off every goal, promising yourself a dream holiday once you’re done. The reality is, there will always be another task and you will burn out long before you clear your to-do list,” Morgan points out. “Wracked by worry, future vacations will turn into two-week-long ‘scary Sundays’, spent dreading the workload awaiting you.”

Instead of thinking about deadlines and KPIs, actually switch off and take the time to relax. January won’t be long coming.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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