Where did 2017 go? We can’t believe we’re down to the final few days of the year and that 2018 is almost here! Can you?
There are still the same number of hours in a day, days in a week, and weeks in a month, though. Which means you shouldn’t let the end of the year slump drag you down or allow yourself to lazily roll into the new year!
Admittedly, it’s hard to stay on track and focused during this time of year with so many distractions and disruptions; it’s exciting to think about holiday plans and the goals, ideas, and adventures the new year brings.
But distractions are just that — distractions — which can detrimentally affect your productivity.
Don’t tell yourself something “can wait until next year” just because next year is now so close! Instead, imagine how great it will feel to use the rest of 2017 productively; to look back and see that you’ve accomplished what you set out to. By doing this, you’ll be freer to go after the new challenges and goals you set for yourself.
We want to help you do stay productive as 2017 comes to an end. Let’s finish the year strong with our strategies for refocusing, staying motivated, and avoiding the procrastination bug!
The problem: the seasonal procrastinator
Since this time of year is so busy in the personal, social, and work realms, you may be more susceptible to procrastinating. It might be because:
- You now have a disproportionate amount of fun things to plan and are brushing off everything else
- There are so many things you don’t want to do and are avoiding them like the plague!
No matter the reason, the result is the same; you’re dropping the ball on things that still need to get done. And if you’re not typically someone who procrastinates, it’s hard to know what to do with yourself when you start putting things off and waiting until the last minute.
It’s a common problem, though, and you can overcome it!
Solution 1: prioritize
If you notice that you are procrastinating and some days are worse than others, try these tips to prioritize your tasks and avoid falling behind.
Before you can prioritize what you need to do, you first have to know what you need to do! Take time to put together a list of tasks you need to complete, especially if you haven’t done a weekly ninja planning session lately. Write all of your tasks and ideas down, whether work related or personal. Not everything will be urgent or need to be completed by you, so note those items you can delegate by highlighting or adding the person’s initials who can do the task instead.
From this list, identify the tasks that are your weak spots that you’ll likely put off until the last minute. If you’re dreading most of the things you have to do at this time of the year, rank tasks from most dreaded to least dreaded, and then do them in that order as you schedule each in your planner.
Of course, you might have to take into account different deadlines for these tasks, but by ordering the tasks this way, you get some perspective that not all of the tasks you’re avoiding are equally undesirable. And by scheduling these tasks and giving yourself more time to do them, they’ll feel more manageable because you’ll be less anxious and rushed when you do them.
Alternatively, as you schedule tasks in your planner, balance the fun ones with the not so fun. When you’re faced with a lot of fun tasks and that’s all you want to work on, try mixing up the fun and the boring. Plan on doing 1-2 fun tasks, then 2-3 boring tasks, 1-2 fun, 2-3 boring, etc. Doing a few more boring tasks in between the fun ones will keep the proportions just right to encourage motivation. The same concept can be applied to those tasks you’re avoiding.
Solution 2: establish mini deadlines and firm deadlines
For any task that you sense you’ll procrastinate on, set a firm deadline and stick to it. But build mini deadlines into your schedule before the firm deadline. You could do this by breaking down a bigger task into smaller, more manageable ones even if it’s just over the course of a few days or before and after lunch.
Find ways to reward yourself when you do what you say you’ll do; pick something fun and enjoyable to look forward to that will make you want to stick to your deadlines.
The problem: feeling (understandably) worn out or overwhelmed
If you’ve made it to this point in the year and you’re tired, you’re not alone. With so much going on, we sometimes forget to slow down and take a break. There’s a lot to prepare for and take part in! It can become unenjoyable for you and those nearest to you when you’re overwhelmed and run down.
Solution 1: take care of yourself
It may seem counterintuitive, but if you’re tired because you have too much on your plate, do a little less in order to be more productive!
Politely turn down the holiday gatherings that aren’t essential to attend, sign up to bring a less elaborate dish to a dinner, ask for help from family or friends if it won’t be a burden to them, or take off an extra day if it’s possible.
With the extra time you’ve created for yourself, do something you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do; maybe it’s time on your hobby, going to yoga or the gym, taking a nap, or just staying in and watching a movie. Make sure you’re eating well, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep as these are all a part of taking care of yourself and avoiding complete exhaustion.
If nothing else, take more frequent shorter breaks. Studies show these are equally beneficial compared to longer breaks. It could be just 10-15 minutes, but a few each day will be like hitting the refresh button, allowing you to keep going. Schedule the breaks into your day so you don’t forget about them or skip this important time.
To stay productive, you need to keep yourself fully charged and not let your energy levels drop to zero!
Solution 2: a time for reflection to build momentum
By December, it’s probably been a few months since you thought about your priorities and reminded yourself of the big picture. And with the new year approaching and thoughts shifting towards what you want to achieve in 2018, now’s a great time to reflect on the past year. This will motivate you and give you the energy to push on:
- Reflect on the awesome. Think back on 2017 and remember what accomplishments you achieved, what made you happy, and what went according to plan. All of the work that it took to achieve each of those things has led you to this moment and now’s not the time to slack off! There is still time to work on what is important to you and achieve your goals.
- Reflect on what didn’t go well. Maybe you didn’t accomplish a goal or you made some mistakes that you wished you hadn’t. But if you remind yourself that these are learning experiences and you’ve grown from each, making you stronger and wiser.
Look for the inspiration in these experiences to feel renewed and re-energized.
The problem: letting anything and everything become a distraction
Staying productive at the end of the year requires focus and commitment. But instead, are you letting yourself be distracted? Are the distractions getting in the way of your ability to work on the things that are important to you? Maybe you’ve forgotten or lost sight of the “why?” To reset yourself and avoid distractions here’s what we suggest.
Solution 1: recommit to your routine
With all the activity the end of the year brings, we tend to get away from what makes us successful throughout the year – our planner and our routine:
- Plan for your days in advance using a weekly ninja planning session. Use your planner to organize your weekly goals, prioritizing what is most important and what you need to accomplish. If you have more going on because of the holidays or additional work projects, try adding them into your week without sacrificing what you would normally do. For example, if you go to a spin class every Monday or go grocery shopping on Wednesdays, don’t give those things up. The little things that help keep you productive during the rest of the year are important to continue during this time of the year too, if not more so.
- Recommit to your 30 day challenge for this month by reminding yourself why it’s important at the start of each day, writing it down in a place that is visible to you (like the bathroom mirror), or telling someone so that you’re more accountable to the challenge.
Even with only a few days left in the month, you can do so much if you don’t just give up let those days go to waste. Going back to basics can help keep you on track and productive!
Solution 2: refocus
You want to stay productive for a reason; you have goals, ideas, and plans for your life.
So now’s the time to refocus by reminding yourself why each of these things are important.
Look back at your yearly theme and the goals you set out for yourself. What progress are you making on them? Are there still things you need to do as the end of the year approaches in order to accomplish your goals? With the “why” fresher in your mind, you’re more likely to resist distractions and stay focused.
The end of the year should be a time to celebrate, but don’t jump the gun! Stick to your plan, keep your goals in focus, and continue to be productive as 2017 comes to an end.