Shake off those post-holiday doldrums!

Four ways to get your post-holidays groove back

I don’t know what it is, but every year at some point between Thanksgiving and (for me) Christmas, I lose all focus on work. Do I continue to do my work? Of course. Is it a good time to have a lot of new projects and deadlines? If I’m honest, that’s a big NOPE.

It gets worse in the days just before Christmas. I’m tired and overfed, there’s still so much to do and family and friends are front-of-mind. Fast-forward to the week between Christmas and the new year. This time is so unproductive for me that I attempt to take it off.

Then, finally, the ball drops, we rest one more day before it’s back to work!

After so much distraction and mental cotton batting, it should take weeks to wind back up. Somehow, though, that’s never an option. Most of us crash into a packed first quarter, ready or not.

Ready is definitely better

It might be easier for me and other home workers to restart our engines than for folks who work in team settings. I make my own schedule and set my own priorities: this really does make re-entry a smoother process. I mean, I usually work 7 to 10 hours a day, but I also take a short power nap somewhere around the halfway point. And if I want a long lunch, I can tack that time on later with no issue. In short, I manage my own energy and stress levels as needed. It’s the secret to my success. No joke.

But even if you don’t work alone, you can still model a few solopreneur behaviors to help you stay fresh and sharp as we head into the madness that typically characterizes the first quarter of the year. If any of these work for you, keep doing them. You can thank me if you see me.

Four ways to get your post-holidays groove back

1.      Get up an hour earlier in the morning

I’m totally kidding. While this is on almost every productivity-boosting list in existence, I’m going to show you the respect one adult has for another and assume you know how much sleep you need. If you’re an early bird, yay you! If not, you can still reap the benefits.

I invite you to get up or stay up 20-30 minutes earlier or later than everyone else in your house and observe a personal ritual. Enjoy a comforting beverage, daydream, read the news, play games on your phone – it matters not. Do it somewhere you don’t associate with work. Maybe there’s a chair in your living room that looks out on something pleasant. Sit there.

DON’T use this time to exercise your body, answer emails or sign permission slips. This time is for your spirit. You’ll always be your better Self when the three aspects of You (body, mind, spirit) are aligned.

2.      Bulk-organize your emails

If you can’t part with the 7,000 messages clogging your inbox and your mind, bulk-organize. Start macro and work your way in. Search emails to or from a client’s domain, projects by keywords, etc. Dump each group into a properly named folder – you can fine-tune later. Most of what’s left you probably don’t need. But if you must, create a folder called Miscellaneous and put the stragglers there. Empty that folder every 3-6 months.

3.      Take an afternoon stroll

If you work at Microsoft, you have a groomed forest with lovely walking trails on your campus. Most of us don’t work at Microsoft, but we can still shake the afternoon cobwebs. You only need about 15 minutes. The key is to LEAVE YOUR OFFICE. Also, stay off your phone.

If you don’t enjoy a campus environment, stroll around the block (or whatever that is for you). If the weather is poor, improvise. Sit in your vehicle for a few minutes with music; hang out in the lobby of a building (yours or another); walk the staircase. If you hate climbing steps, take the elevator to the top floor and walk down to your office. This isn’t about gain – it’s about pouring a little off the top of your pitcher so you can fill it back up without spilling over.

4.      Write yourself a goodbye note

Every day before I shut down, I update my personal Trello board and/or make a paper list of everything I need to accomplish the next day. It gives me a chance to think about tomorrow’s priorities before something shiny blows them away. When I sit down at my desk the next morning, I don’t have to remember where I am because I already told myself. Thanks, yesterday’s Me!

 

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