As you gobble up that last bit of turkey and clear away the scraps of wrapping paper, it hits you – the holidays are over. Those crazed trips to the mall, the frenzied cooking, the cutthroat gift swaps…they’re all done. It’s time to get back into work-mode and make this year your most successful yet. But even the most devoted of employees can feel sluggish from the eggnog haze that inevitably follows the holiday season. In order to help you achieve your best year yet, I want to offer you some tips I use to get my head back in the game.
Get Your Team Back on Track
If your team members are still dreaming of sugar plum fairies, you’ll likely follow suit. Within your first few days back at the office, call a meeting with your key staff members to motivate them for the new quarter. One good way of doing this is to review company goals and explain how each team member is expected to contribute to them. They’ll be able to see how their work directly impacts the growth of the company as well as get clear on their responsibilities for the quarter. This will provide them with direction, motivation and a sense of purpose for the new year.
Do Your Mind a Favor
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation has been linked to slowed brain activity, hypertension, depression and more. Making sure you’re well-rested before a day at the office will allow you to tackle your work with a clear, alert mind. There’s nothing more unproductive than reading the same sentence over and over again or having to backtrack to fix mistakes you made while yawning your way through a task. Don’t get me wrong - I’ve been guilty of pulling an all-nighter or two to finish up some pressing projects, but it’ll serve you best to manage your time in a way that allows for a solid seven to eight hours per night.
If a task will take you less than two minutes, get it done now. Putting off menial assignments can cause them to build up throughout the week and hang over your head. Taking care of them on the spot will save mind space for the projects that matter and ensure that you don’t hold others up. There’s nothing worse than reaching the end of the week only to realize that a team member fell behind on their work because you forgot to send a quick email or print a report. Always get the small stuff out of the way so you can focus on the bigger picture.
Before I leave the office each day, I leave my inbox at “0.” Making sure each email is taken care of before the end of the day leaves me with a clean slate to work with the next day. But achieving this empty inbox doesn’t mean checking your email every five minutes. On the contrary, you should only check your inbox two to three times per day to boost productivity.
We’ve all been there – in the zone, working on a project, when our email pings and we get sidetracked. That sidetrack leads to another and another until, before you know it, the day is over and you’ve made no progress on your initial project. I strongly recommend turning off your email notifications; it’ll eliminate unexpected distractions and allow you to budget your time more efficiently. For a more in-depth look at how I recommend handling your inbox, check out my email manifesto.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
Any one of my employees will tell you that this tip is my favorite. It’s a blend of some recommendations I’ve already given and it’s the one I use the most. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method designed to boost productivity through short bursts of hyper-focused work.
To start a Pomodoro session, you’ll want to create an environment free of distractions. Turn off your phone, mute your email notifications, block social media sites, shut your office door – anything you need to ensure there will be no interruptions. Next, set a timer (traditionally, it’s a Pomodoro tomato-shaped timer, but you can use this one) for 25 minutes. Then, focus. Devote all of your time and energy solely to the task at hand. Once the timer rings, it’s time to take a five-minute break. I recommend leaving your desk for your break; grab a coffee, take a walk around the office, anything to clear your mind. Once your break is over, head back to your desk for your next Pomodoro session. Every four Pomodoros, you should take a fifteen-minute break (rather than the usual five) to break it up. The idea is that these short bursts of focused work, followed by refreshing breaks, allow you to spend more time at your peak productivity.
Although I use these productivity habits all year round, I find them especially useful in the after-holiday slump. Keeping yourself motivated and productive can have a positive impact on your team and your company as a whole. In today’s digital age, it can (quite literally) pay to unplug and give yourself time away from distractions. I guess I should consider becoming a phone-down type of guy, after all.
What tips do you use to stay productive after the holidays? Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn to share your thoughts!