Managing Your Day Like Santa Does
Originally published December 13, 2017 by The Montrose Daily Press
It’s the most wonderful time of the year … 11 more shopping days untill Christmas and 11 more work days until New Year’s.
You likely have a stack of holiday cards needing addresses, presents needing wrapping, last-minute shopping trips planned and five parties you’ve RSVP’d “yes” to.
Work is no different with year-end tasks piling up, budgets requiring your approval and metrics you’re aiming for. All of it to get done with fewer work days than any other month on the calendar (not that we’re complaining, right?) and motivation jumping out the window every chance it gets.
If Santa and his elves can manufacture millions of gifts and get them all delivered on Christmas Eve, maybe us average humans have a chance too. Getting “it all done” might seem (and probably is) impossible, but there are ways we can better focus and maximize our time.
How to manage your workday like the big man himself:
1. Work on the most important or creative tasks first thing in the morning. Let emails sit in your inbox until 10 a.m. or whenever your creativity slows down. Santa gives you permission! Responding to an email is sometimes a mindless task and not something fresh brain energy should be wasted on. Spend those first one or two hours immersed in your most important task for the day. Find your flow and watch the work pour out of you. Resist giving in to other distractions like phone calls, text messages or Facebook. Those things will all be waiting for you when you finish kicking butt.
2. Schedule meetings in the afternoon. Hand in hand with working on the most important tasks first thing in the morning, scheduling meetings for later in the day is the best utilization of our time. The afternoon is when many of us are least productive. This is a good time for meeting with others and putting a different part of our brain to work.
3. Set a timer. When there are a million things on our list, it is easy to look at it and start glossing over or even avoiding tasks because they seem too overwhelming. When you start feeling this way, pick out the task you least want to work on (I know … but trust me this works!), and set a timer. Set it for a small and manageable amount of time. Again, follow the no distractions rule. Work hard on the task at hand with the carrot dangling that says “you only have to do this for 30 minutes.” You will most likely find yourself accomplishing more than you expected. Once the yucky tasks are checked off, you can then use the timer method for other less daunting tasks as well.
4. Delegate. Santa would be no one without the elves and reindeer. If you have a team, use them. Sometimes trusting others is difficult when it comes to accomplishing tasks that are really important to us. People are always more capable, smart and talented than we might be aware of. Investing time in showing them how they can help will turn out to be one of the best ways of maximizing productivity.
5. Finally, capitalize on your time off. One of the best ways to leave work at work over the weekend or even in the evening is to make a list before leaving. Right before taking off on Friday, or for the evening, spend five minutes making a list of everything you need to accomplish the following day or week. The simple act of knowing you won’t forget where you left off allows for mental rest.
Unlike Santa, most of our work does not end on Dec. 25 and we aren’t rewarded for every task with milk and cookies. But, like Santa, we can find efficiencies and tools for building upon our own momentum. Even the most disorganized and unfocused Santa can find success in these small habits.