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Season’s Workload Put You In Scrooge Mood? Lighten Up

Investor’s Business Daily, by Sonja Carberry, December 05, 2014

The most wonderful time of the year, or the most hectic? If jingle bells inspire panic, try these get-it-done tips:

  • Find time. Workers have more spare minutes than they realise, according to a survey commissioned by office supplier Fellowes.

  • Respondents reported "they waste two hours a day on disruptions and inefficiencies," said Laura Stack, author of "Execution IS the Strategy."

  • Clam up. Stack's firm, Productivity Pro, conducts time management workshops for harried executives. A time Grinch that she cautions about is the conversational black hole. Of survey respondents, "53% said chatty co-workers disrupt their day," she told IBD.

  • Know when to walk away from the water cooler.

  • Shrink it. Plan shorter meetings. "It's amazing how time expands. If you schedule an hour, it takes an hour," Stack said.

  • Try 30 minutes, and see if you can squeeze it all in.

  • Shift. "We get in a productivity rut," said Stack.

  • Try changing your normal routine. Instead of starting the day with email and social media, spend your first hour on urgent projects.

  • Rise and shine. Mornings are more productive than afternoons, according to survey results.

  • "Get in there and dive right in on your hardest task," Stack said. "It feels good to get something big knocked off your plate."
  • Think speed. Nearly a third of office workers say that problems with office equipment drain minutes from their days. "Anytime you're thinking, 'Gosh, this is taking too long,'" figure out why, says Stack.

  • Maybe a process needs tweaking, or an upgrade would add speed.

  • Cut static. "I put my phone on airplane mode while I'm working," Stack said. It stops attention-shattering interruptions. "You have to be smart when you use these smart technologies."

  • Increase discipline. Work at work. "People are tempted to do online shopping," Stack said. To keep personal and professional separate, limit perusing e-commerce sites to lunchtime and breaks.

  • Avoid negativity. Grumbling about feeling frenzied this season won't help.

  • "The most powerful way to deal with complaints is to turn them into requests," said Josselyne Herman-Saccio, a communication expert with training and employee development firm Landmark. Whining is wheel spinning. Making a request means taking positive steps.

    "Remember, complaints produce burnout. Actions produce results," she said.

  • Make a list. Mentally tracking incomplete tasks saps energy. Recharge by writing them out.

    "Get it on paper and out of your head," said Herman-Saccio. "Deal with each item by scheduling it, doing it or being clear that you will not be doing it."

  • Take a lead. Managers can lift an office's mood just by acknowledging the hectic season.

  • "In the spirit of servant leadership, ask: 'Is there anything I can do to make your life easier?'" said Palmer Hartl, author of "The Ten Commandments of Management." Encourage team members to look for ways to pull together.

  • Turn them down. Learn to say no when necessary. "People's lives are better when they know how to set limits," Hartl said.

  • Weigh traditions. "I wonder about the wisdom of holiday office parties," Hartl said.


  • Some feel it's just another seasonal obligation. If time is tight for all, consider having a January celebration.

    Let workers weigh in before making such a change.

    "Let's put it to the group," he said.