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5 Essential Steps to Boost Your Productivity After a Holiday


We have all had that feeling of the post-holiday blues hitting us like a train after time away from work.



In fact, how many of us have started planning the next break the day before or on the last day of the holiday? Is that just me? Let’s be honest…

It can be challenging to conjure up the motivation to get back into a routine that is a world apart from the leisurely breakfasts, the poetic daydreaming over mid-morning coffee and the cheeky siestas as the sun cools slightly and the balmy evenings offer a welcome retreat. The time taken to rest and recharge shall undoubtedly set anybody up for a positive and meaningful return to work and there are ways in which you can boost your productivity.


Here are just five steps to follow to make the transition from having sand between your toes and a cool and refreshing ice cold drink at the bar to the humdrum routine of morning alarms, household chores and logistical planning for work and family much easier to adjust to.


1. Make a plan An obvious one, however, people often rush into the most urgent thing they have to do that has presented itself unexpectedly in a blind panic and then things go downhill from there.


To get caught up in something too tempting to ignore might lead you down a rabbit warren which becomes deeper and you end up caught up being less productive than planned.


By pausing and taking stock of all things to be considered and making a proper plan, it gives you the opportunity to remain in control and decide what the best course of action is at that point in time to be more productive.


More complex tasks that require more concentration and focus should be scheduled for the beginning of the day. That way, you have more time to get a good grip on what is required if you do not complete it in one go. It also gives you time to take a break from it before the deadline to regroup your thoughts and allow you to determine which way you are going to go next with it. By prioritising and breaking tasks down, it allows you to work out what are the fire-fighting / urgent matters. That unexpected and ’cannot wait’ rabbit warren type of task may (or may not) fall into this category but at least you have considered it with more measured consideration.


The Eisenhower matrix is often referred to and, whilst it works for many people, my main criticism of it is that it recommends discarding any non-urgent and ‘unimportant’ matters.


I believe no task should be ignored because it is often these types of things that creep up out of nowhere at a later date and create real problems because they were disregarded. Instead I park them. Maybe for another day, week, month or even year. Notes in project management tools such as Trello or Asana are a great way to keep things on the peripheral radar.


My preferred method of prioritising tasks is by using the Stephen Covey’s 4 quadrant rule he adopts in his Time Management Matrix.


Whilst it may look similar to the Eisenhower matrix, it considers all tasks should be acknowledged.


Taken from the FranklinCovey system (co-founded by Stephen Covey and based on Benjamin Franklin’s writings with a focus on time management and organisational principles), the ABC123 system works well in practice in a ‘day book’ because it allows you to quickly visualise the priorities that leads to productivity.


It works on the premise that you order your tasks with those that are critical being labelled ‘A’, important things to do as ‘B’ and those that ‘should’ be done as ‘C’ with ‘D’ being those that are ‘parked’.


The task should then be numbered in relation to its priority with ‘1’ being the main priority and ‘3’ being lower down the list.


By implementing this method, it is easy to see which should be ‘brought forward’ at the end of the day and those that could be left for later in the week.


It is also worthwhile to see the less arduous tasks that can be fitted in and around the A1’s.


You might just be able to squeeze a B3 task into your schedule 10 minutes before your lunch break because you know it will only take 7 minutes to complete it.


Using your time effectively in this way is the key to boosting your productivity.


2. Don’t multi-task (manage your time better instead) You may have heard this before…


It has been proven that multi-tasking not only reduces the quality of your work but it can and often does more harm than good as it can have a negative impact on your mental health.



Despite the pressures of society’s expectations of being able to lend ourselves simultaneously to multiple things, it is counterintuitive.


Our brains cannot give the 100% cognitive focus to either (or all!) of the tasks being undertaken.


The only real reason someone chooses to multi-task is because they are time deprived with a feeling of stress that becomes too great to ignore.


However, by trying to take in too much at once, it inevitably leads to mistakes that will require correcting and erodes the time that you have tried to save in the first place.


By the reduction of focus, distractions are likely to appear and the results are likely to be negative.


The recommendation is to avoid the temptation of multi-tasking but make a plan instead.

3. Repeat, repeat, repeat

One of the best ways to increase productivity is to set up systems and tasks properly, taking the time they deserve, at the initial outset.


When this has been completed, you can use them as a blueprint for future purposes.


Well-known and regularly used shortcuts are bound to be a way that you can ensure every minute if your time is used efficiently.


The creation of templates and macros for regular correspondence and scheduled communications will be highly valued at the time you need them most.


The systems being used have been made much simpler to set up and use for the less technical among us and the internet lends itself to learning how to do things in many ways.


By avoiding repetitive, process driven and regular communications or tasks, the time you save in not repeating similarly worded emails, forms or documents, it will claw back time that you can be more productive with.


It is worth noting that when you do carry out the more repetitive communications that you double-check its validity before sending or processing.


- Has the date been updated?

- Is the invoice number correct?

- Is the latest version attached?


Even after you have made the final checks you will have shortened the repetitive process substantially, increasing your productivity. 4. Breaks


It is counterintuitive to try and plough through the heavy workload you have without taking regular breaks.


The more time you sit at your desk (that undoubtedly slips into a less ergonomically positive position) and focus on task after task with no rest in screen time, your productivity will take a massive hit.


It is beneficial to you and the quality of your work to take regular short breaks.


Once a task has been completed and you know the next one will take more brainpower, it is worthwhile to step away from your environment and have a complete break.


For those that find it difficult to switch off and then get back into something quickly, use this opportunity to plan the next task in your head in a different place. The change of scene, if only for a short time, is likely to allow you to think more clearly in a different way.


There may be various ways in which you could undertake the task, it might offer alternative ways to lay it out and present it or it could be that you might work out the task cannot be completed in one sitting and that by strategising and planning the various options it could be done, it allows you to find the most productive way in completing it.

When taking a break, it’s worth planning that as well. A short break may even be a stretch of the limbs, mobilising your joints, or a cup of tea or coffee.


A longer break may be a walk, a snack or some time outside taking in some fresh air.


Even though your workload may be high, these regular and well planned breaks will boost your energy levels, re-establish your focus and aid your productivity.


For those of you that tend to work late and find that you are more productive at the back end of the day, make sure you allow yourself enough to time to unwind and decompress before going to bed.


By working around the clock, your productivity levels will be negatively affected the next day if you do not give yourself a proper rest in between.


5. Boundaries and time blocking

Saying ‘No’ is difficult for most people.


Generally speaking, it is in a human’s nature to be helpful to others, however, it is important to know when you can and should push back and be able to let someone know that you are unable to carry out the request they ask of you.


This not only helps in your planning and time management strategy, it also sets clear expectations for the other person.


They shall respect you for being honest with them if you give the reasons for being unable to complete what they are asking of you and if you clearly set out why that is.


It might be because you are time deprived and their request cannot be fitted into your schedule (there are only so many hours in the day and although you may not wish to share it with them you have chosen not to work late to fit in last minute requests from someone).


Another reason you may wish to decline work is the task you have been asked to do is simply not within your field of expertise.


By taking on something that you do not know how to do does not make good business sense.


Not only does it have the potential to cost you more time to complete it, the chances of it not being completed to the high standard that both you and the other person expects could be reputationally damaging for you. A good solution when someone asks you to do something that you are not confident in doing it is to recommend someone who can.

By utilising your network effectively, you can help two sets of people that you know whilst raising your profile and proving your credibility.


The benefits of networking why it's essential for business success is worth noting when you set the boundaries you have with others because it provides a positive solution rather than backing out of something negatively.



As well as being able to say ‘no’ at the times that are needed, it is useful to block time in your schedule so that your focus can be honed in on what is necessary at that point in time for you.



The ‘do not disturb’ function on phones is worth using so that you can spend a set amount of time concentrating fully with no distractions to be as productive in that allotted time as you can be.








 

There is no doubt that dusting off the holiday blues can be a challenge.


With the knowledge that you have a plan in place for when you return to work with easy to follow steps, it is bound to lead to better productivity and a renewed energy that you will feel grateful for.


This might be the perfect time to formulate new ideas and push ahead with the project you had in mind for months.


Once you have got back into the swing of things, taking the steps to boost your productivity it shall enable you to seize those opportunities with both hands effectively.


Soon enough, you will be back to working positively and effectively and this boost in productivity might create good habits that you will continue to implement.


The next holiday is something you can look forward to…

 

If you would like to further boost your productivity and outsource unnecessary tasks to an expert, get in touch with me.



Anna




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