Getting Things Done During The Holidays
I slept until 7:30 this morning, a rarity for me. Then, over my morning coffee, I read in today’s WSJ that a good night’s rest is one way to battle procrastination. Isn’t that interesting? We don’t often think of sleep as being one of the tools of productivity. We often associate it with slothfulness and undone items on the to-do list.
But Piers Steel, Professor at the University of Calgary and author of The Procrastination Equation says when your energy levels are down, your willpower is weak. Sleep strengthens us. It allows our brains to get organized. We go to sleep with a feeling of chaos and wake up with a plan.
And we definitely need a plan this time of year, don’t we? It’s easy to put projects off and instead enjoy the parties and the eggnog. And let me be clear: I love to have fun and I am no workaholic. But the truth is, our clients still need us, bills have to be paid and we still need to help our teams flourish. That means that there is at least some unfinished work to be done during this holiday season and there’s no time like the present (no pun intended).
Andrea Petersen penned a helpful article on the subject of procrastination this week in the Wall Street Journal. She scoured her network and pulled together some great advice on getting things done during both the holidays and every other day.
She writes how Robert Schachter, an assistant clinical professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the Big Apple, has noted 20 different reasons for not getting things done. Being a perfectionist is a biggie. He wisely has his patients list the cost of their procrastination, as well as what they’ll gain. “If in fact they see the negatives really outweigh the positives, they’ll want to do something about it,” advises Dr. Schachter.
Here are some other tips from Ms. Petersen:
- Make your goals “bite-size.” Be specific and schedule when you will knock them off your Do-To list. When completed, reward yourself with cup of coffee, a brisk walk, or my favorite, a piece of chocolate.
- Start with a baby step, but whatever you do, start. Beginning a project is the hardest, but once you start you have something to come back to. I find that so true with my work. Finishing a first draft is gold. Then I go back later to polish.
- Find a place where there are no distractions. No blaring TV, no social media. Get quiet and get to work.
And here’s one of my own tips that has always been so helpful to me. Get an accountability partner. If you know they are going to meet you at the gym at a certain time, you are much more likely to go. If an article you are working on has a firm deadline, tell your accountability partner what that deadline is and then send it over to them when it’s completed. The content may not even apply to them, but they’ll know why you sent it. And you’ll feel the endorphin rush that comes when you mark off one more thing on your list.