I’ve done the math, and so when I set annual goals for my business, I plan to complete them in 10 months, not 12. Partly because I usually take a month off in the summer, and partly because I know December’s not going to be as productive as I want it to be.
There are traditionally fewer work days in December, between holiday closures and vacation plans (your own, your clients, or others you work with). That, and our focus is undeniably split between our personal and work lives—possibly even more than it usually is—which can drain our energy.
So what do you plan to do with your limited time and energy? More importantly, how can you spend them in ways that ease the pressure of the holiday season, rather than add to it?
In a previous post, we talked about how to replenish your energy when it’s running low. But what can we do in our work lives to stop that drain at the source?
One thing to look at is your expectations. Are you expecting as much from yourself in a month with fewer available work days as you do in other months? Are you scheduling business commitments early in the morning after a holiday party? Are you trying to cram in meetings back-to-back (-to-back-to-back, etc.) because you feel a scarcity of time and the pressure to complete certain things before the end of the year?
What if we accept that December is what it is? Instead of demanding more productivity from ourselves and others, let’s claim this to be a no-pressure December! Yes, this is a busy month. And it’s when you least think you can afford time, is when you most need to take it.
Start by giving yourself the gift of space, by aiming for at least 15 minutes between calls. For in-person appointments or events, remember to build in travel time instead of expecting yourself to leave one place and arrive at the next place at the same time (it may sound obvious, but we’ve all raced somewhere too quickly because we miscalculated this).
Next, let’s think about how to protect and even boost our creativity when we feel pulled in different directions. One company I work with provides free healthy drinks and snacks to their employees, who can grab these from the cafeteria throughout the day.
Another idea is to provide a quiet space where people can nap, reflect, journal, or read—all things that can replenish your energy and spark new ideas.
And what about business owners working from home? You’re in charge of your schedule. You can give yourself an extra day off each week. You can shorten your work day. So if you were up late at a client’s holiday party or a local networking event, take extra time the next day. You can take a nap in the afternoon.
You can also can book fewer clients, and manage expectations of when you’ll deliver things. In fact, solopreneurs and employees can both do this. Instead of the pressure to finish and deliver everything by year-end, practice setting due dates for mid-January. Then breathe a big sigh of relief.
Speaking of expectations, remember that you don’t have to attend every party or event to which you’re invited. Consider which events will truly be a celebration, and which will just add stress. And again, if you’re in the position of planning these events, think about scheduling them in January, or maybe another time when the weather isn’t an issue—if winter weather can be a problem where you live.
What can you do to have no-pressure December? What ideas do you have for the rest of us? (Happy Festivus to my fellow Seinfeld fans!)