Advertising
Advertising

Specific Ways To Be Productive In Different Months

Specific Ways To Be Productive In Different Months

Managing our productivity and energy effectively depends on the seasons. By looking at demands on our time from the perspective of the whole year, it will be much easier to manage our year. For purposes of this example, I have structured the months and seasons as they occur in the Northern Hemisphere. With a bit of imagination, you can apply these ideas elsewhere.

Winter (December, January, February)

Winter is a season full of special challenges. With the holidays of December and the cold weather, many people struggle to make progress. Make the most of this time by implementing the following principles:

Advertising

  • Review The Past Year’s Accomplishments. Completing an Annual Review in December is a practice that many of the most productive people in the world practice. This practice will help you capture insights on goals achieved and ideas to help you become more productive in the coming year.
  • Plan The Year. January are the perfect time of year to make plans and set goals for the year. Writing your goals down is an excellent technique to motivate yourself in January will keep you going even when the weather discourages you.
  • Prepare Taxes. Preparing for your tax return is hardly fun (unless you are excited about receiving a large refund!). By starting the preparation process in the winter, you will avoid the last minute panic that many people face. If you have good files from last year, you can use that as a starting point.
  • Read A Big Book: Reading is one of the most important habits we can practice to become more productive. By exposing yourself to good writing, your own writing and understanding of the world improves. In February 2015, I started reading Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow, a biography that is over 800 pages long. It is an outstanding book and perfect to read during the long, dark nights of winter.

Getting through the long dark months of the year requires some inspiration and fresh ideas. Use these resources to stay renew your motivation and increase your productivity.

Advertising

Spring (March, April, May)

Spring signals the return of nature after the dark and cold of winter. Spring is also a great opportunity to improve your productivity.

Advertising

  • Spring Break: In Canada, most schools have a 1-2 week March break vacation. Elsewhere, you may have Spring Break. Taking a short vacation as winter comes to a close is a great way to give yourself fresh ideas. If you have been struggling with a business problem, diving deep into some good business books over spring break may be the most productive decision you make all year.
  • Boost Productivity By Getting Outside. Our physical health and wellbeing is a major contributor to our productivity. When the spring season arrives, longer days mean you have the chance to get more sun light. Taking in a walk through a nearby park will help to reduce your stress levels and improve your mood.
  • Increase Your Productivity With Networking. In April and May, it is time to get outside and meet other people. Strong relationships – at home and professionally – do wonders to increase your productivity. You can use this season to attend local Meetup.com events related to your work – this is a great option for people interested in technology and marketing (interests that are well represented on Meetup.com).
  • Outer order contributes to inner calm. According to author Gretchen Rubin, the order of our homes and lives increases our sense of calm, a key contributor to productivity. Spring is the perfect time to get started on that long neglected spring cleaning project at home. At the office, you can also take this opportunity to dispose of obselete materials and archive old emails.

Summer (June, July, August)

For many people, the summer signals relaxation, leisure and fun. It’s a habit we developed as we went through school – the prospect of summer holidays was always exciting. In the working world, summer is a great time to get ahead. As more and more people go on vacation, you have the opportunity to get more done.

  • Get Ahead While Everyone Goes Into Vacation Mode. Many companies slow down in Juy and August as a large percentage of the workforce goes on vacation. This is the perfect time to create professional assets, resources that you can use over and over again at work. The slow months of the summer are also a perfect time to assess your performance: are you reaching your work goals? What can you change to do better?
  • Get Training To Improve Your Productivity. As the pace of work often slows in the summer, it is a perfect time to get training. You can take an online course, attend a conference, or start a self study program. If you are looking for a general program to improve your productivity and organization, I recommend reading Getting Things Done by David Allen.
  • Plan A Bucket List Experience. In my view, productivity means achieving your goals which can certainly go beyond career and business goals. The summer is a great time to work through your bucket list, especially if you like adventure sports.

Fall (September, October, November)

The closing months of the year bring new perspectives. Students return to their studies, charities launch donation campaigns and companies push to achieve their business goals.

  • Review Progress on Goals Set Earlier in The Year. If you have set goals earlier in the year (preferably using a proven system such as Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever!), the fall is a great time to review your progress. You may be pleasantly surprised with your progrress on some goals and disappointed in other cases. The fall is your opportunity to improve your productivity by getting focused on your goals.
  • Expand your network by attending events and reaching out. In the fall, many professional associations offer new programs and events. You can advance your career by actively participating in associations – attend seminars, ask questions and look for volunteer opportunities.
  • Choose one major activity to complete in the year. The final few months of the year are a great opportunity to get ahead. While everyone else is thinking about the fall holidays, this is your time to get ahead by doing the work others will not do. For the best results, choose a single goal or activity to complete in the remaining months of the year.

Featured photo credit: Autumn Leaves/jbom411 via pixabay.com

Advertising

More by this author

Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

Young Woman Reading Book 15 Inspiring Books Every Leader Should Not Miss 20 Life Hacks Put To The Test 20 Popular Life Hacks From the Internet Debunked (or Verified) The 15 Healthiest Companies In America That Everyone Longs To Work For 7 Reasons Why People Who Draw Mind Maps Are More Hireable No One Told You the Book List for Improving Leadership Skills? I Will

Trending in Productivity

1 How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work 2 Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress 3 How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money 4 7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It 5 How to Concentrate and Train Your Brain to Focus Better

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

Advertising

So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

Advertising

    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

    Advertising

    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

    Advertising

    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next