Make pre-holiday productivity a thing of the past
As you’re reading this, you’re likely rushing to get everything done in time for Christmas. I, on the other hand, am not. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to be smug about it – it’s just that I don’t need to. And, if I can, I’d like to help you share that feeling.
There’s a certain feeling that pops up a few times a year. Every time we’re having more than a couple of days extra off from work, to be specific. Sit quietly and think for a moment, and it’ll come to you. That’s right: a mixture of stress, anticipation and frazzlement (is this a word?), caused by the adrenaline and cortisol which courses through your veins as you rush to complete everything that’s on your plate so that your time off from work is really off.
Yet in many ways reasonable. For one thing, you’re motivated by the freedom you envision. To step outside the mundane and escape the shackles which imprison your mind. To do something that you’ve chosen, whole-heartedly, for yourself. Or you might, in a slightly less spectacular fashion, just want – no, need – a bloody break.
Making matters worse, it appears that this desperation-tinged approach is our favoured way of preparing to exploit every last shred of our precious little pockets of freedom. And everywhere you look, everyone else is doing the same. Well, not everyone, but the exceptions can be hard to spot: you’ll likely find them in the category of people you envy or hate, appearing continuously unfrazzled.
So, let me visualize what’s really going on. Let’s say you’re an avid outdoorsman, and you’ve just found a lovely moor upon which to spend your Sunday hiking. So, you pick up that 50-pound backpack, and then break into a run for, say, half a mile – just so you can enjoy that feeling of complete relaxation when you drop to the ground from exertion.
I’ll stop being coy: you’re doing it wrong. Wrongity-wrong. The only thing which follows from exertion is the need for recuperation, much along the lines of Newton’s law concerning action and reaction. Make a guess as to when said recuperation will be taking place, and you’ll see where I’m going with this. So, tell me honest: wouldn’t you rather spend your energy more wisely?
Doing so is remarkably easy, hard and rewarding at the same time.
Easy, because it means the only thing you have to do is to switch your work mode from reactive to proactive. Instead of being behind, adapt to your workload and deadlines in such a fashion that you’re always one week ahead. You’ll feel and do better, both at home and at work. And don’t give me – actually, strike that. Don’t give yourself any excuses; if you really don’t have the power to make such changes, you need to find a new job. Stat.
Hard, because it means that you have to focus on staying ahead of the curve every single hour of every single day, instead of just doing what you’re being told, delivering the bare minimum and falling behind.
Rewarding, because working proactively is – well, rather than have me explain it to you, let’s try as follows: sit down for five minutes, and recall every single situation you’ve been in for the past month where you’ve felt stressed. Now imagine the same situation, only having finished what you needed to do a week prior to its expected date of completion.
Just like that, the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when everything is in order and settled for you to be able to relax during your time off has been extended to a year-round experience.
What say you make this your Christmas present to yourself?