It seems impossible to finish all those personal holiday chores and remain efficient at the office too. But it can be done.
One help is advice from Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington co-authors of The 12 Week Year: Get More done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months.
Moran contends you don't have to show up late to your child's holiday play because you're tying up a work project, or run off to check your email while the turkey gets cold. You just need to muster up some discipline and think about time in a different way.
"Successful people work with great focus and intention, and they play the same way," says Moran. "When they're working they're really working, and when they take time off, they make the absolute most of that time. Rest and rejuvenation are the other side of the success coin.
Moran and Lennington's new book offers a new way to think about time and how you use it. In a nutshell, plan your goals in a 12 week year rather than a 12 month year. When you do so, you're far more likely to feel a healthy sense of urgency that gets you focused. Whether you're a business leader or just an individual seeking a better work/life balance, you'll get far more done in far less time-and you'll feel a lot less stressed and a lot more in control.
Below are a few essential tips for what you can do right now to make sure your days off are free of work worries (not to mention shopping-cooking-decorating worries) so that you can spend true quality time with family and friends.
Picture the perfect holiday." Vision is the starting point of all high performance," says Moran. "It is the first place where you engage your thinking about what is possible for you. The more personally compelling your vision is, the more likely it is that you will act upon it. It is your personal vision that creates an emotional connection to the daily actions that need to take place in your business. Once you understand the link between your vision (including that perfect holiday season) and your work, you can define exactly what you need to do to make the most of your time off."
Here are some of their ideas:
Create a pre-holiday season plan. "Leading up to the holidays, it is a good idea to create a plan for each work week you have left," notes Moran. "Your weekly plan captures just the keystone actions that drive your most important results. It defines your short-term and long-term commitments in the context of what you have to do this week. Be sure to include in your plan the non-work related tasks the holidays add to your plate, such as present shopping, tree decorating, gift wrapping, and so on. You will need to be sure to factor in time for these activities as well."
Resign yourself to being uncomfortable NOW so you can be comfortable LATER. "Important actions are often the uncomfortable ones," says Moran. "In our experience, the number one thing you will have to sacrifice to be great, to achieve what you are capable of, and to execute your plans is your comfort. So, if your goal is to have a carefree holiday break, commit to sacrificing your short-term comfort today so that you can reach it. Take care of any tasks you've been avoiding now so that they can't ruin your time off and so that they aren't on your mind when you're trying to have a good time."
Know what to do when you're not doing the things you know you need to do. Of course, upping the work ante prior to taking time off won't be easy. There will be times when your level of execution is less than exceptional, and it's very likely you won't be able to ignore the nagging, guilty feeling that drop in execution brings on. But the good news is you can use that feeling-what the authors call productive tension-to get yourself back on track.
Make the most of performance time and down time. You can keep control of your day through time-blocking. Basically, you block your day into three kinds of blocks-strategic blocks, buffer blocks, and breakout blocks. A strategic block is uninterrupted time that is scheduled into each week. During this block, you accept no phone calls, no faxes, no emails, no visitors, no anything. Buffer blocks are designed to deal with all of the unplanned and low-value activities-like most email and voicemail-that arise throughout a typical day, while breakout blocks provide free time for you to use to rest and rejuvenate.
Don't go it alone. It's likely that out of your network of colleagues and friends you aren't the only one who is a) hoping to have a work-free holiday break, and b) currently working frantically to make that goal possible. And if that's the case, team up with them. The peer support you receive will be invaluable in your pursuit of the perfect holiday season.