December is a time for festive cheers and vacation leaves. But let’s not forget the workplace. I know this is a crazy month (hard to believe it’s drawing to a close in a few days) and I don’t know about you but work has been crazy. This huge project has been going on for months now and it was high time to roll it out. Whether you’re in the creative field or not, you know what it feels like when deadline is just around the corner. There’s a lot of items in your to-do list, your brain cells are scrambled around, you can’t — won’t — survive without coffee, you come to work earlier than usual to clock in some pre-shift overtime to take some of the load off, even in dreams you think about what needs to be done with this and that and you wake up feeling triumphant because YES! I FINALLY GOT IT!
I doubt if there is anyone out there who hasn’t experienced that phase in their work life. For those of you who, like me, swore and took an oath and made a blood compact that December should never feel like that again, here’s a few tricks and tips that may help. Feel free to add in the comments section. I’d be happy you did.
- Keep track of things early on. You’ll be happy you did. This will help you plan and map out your game plan. For this, I use the following:
- Excel spreadsheet for my list of to-do’s
- yellow post-it notes where I can scribble down notes and then just slap them on my desk or somewhere I know I can immediately see them
- a calendar whiteboard propped on my desk to remind me, at a hurried glance, of meetings and deadlines
- a notebook where I jot down and store important details and stuff
- Analyze the bulk of your project, so you’d know what you need to do and what needs to be distributed to the rest of the team.
- Coordinate with your teammates and co-workers. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and reach out to others. It’s no fun if you do something only to find out in the end that it’s not what was asked for in the first place. Set up a meeting or appointment if you must.
- Eat healthy and get some good night’s sleep. These two do wonders in the way you deal with what needs to be done. True story.
- Make sure you allocate blocks of your time to different tasks so that you avoid cramming. The key to this is knowing your priorities and if you know your job really well, you can spot from afar what should be done with certain tasks and just how much time those tasks will take.
- Utilize tools that you know could help you out.
- Resist temptations. Social networks, websites that strike your interests, etc. You know how easy it is to lose track of time in those sites.
- When you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock, it’s probably time for some breather. Stretch you legs, walk around, converse with your co-workers. Don’t try to frustrate yourself by working too hard, too much. You’ll only get burned out more quickly.
- Listen to music. This helps a lot and I don’t need to say more about this one.
- Even if the pressure seems like too much, know this: You’re not expected to execute a perfect project. Just do your best, know your role, know your product, analyze, brainstorm, coordinate and collaborate, maximize tools that will aid you especially in the heavyweight areas of your tasks/projects.
Knowing what you’re up against and foresight will make it feel like the battle is half-won. All that’s left after that is execution, so don’t go astray and kill time with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. when you know that there’s a huge project waiting for progress and that others are counting on you to do a good job.
Good luck and happy holidays!