4 Tips for Keeping Your Balance in the Year-End Blitz

Deidre Paknad  ::  Strategy & Execution

'The days are long, but the years are short.' -Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

Even without end of year pressures and holidays, work stresses people out. In fact, one million Americans call in sick over stress every day and 25% say work is the most stressful thing in their lives. In holiday season, almost 70% of people report additional stress from lack of time and money.

This work stress is compounded because calendar fourth quarter often accounts for much more than 25% of corporate revenues, which means we need to accomplish much more despite shorter and fewer days. When you overlay performance reviews and annual planning, more social gatherings and kids’ activities it’s a real blitz!

These 4 tips can help you achieve more success and enjoy more holiday bliss amidst the work blitz:

1. Organize for Lower-Stress Success

Eliminate stress and increase your odds of achieving your goals by 64% by writing down what you need to do to achieve goals. If you manage a team, insist on transparency on what each team member is doing, where their attention is focused and what their progress is. If you don’t have a tool to see progress on actions and goals yourself, do a morning check in with the team to align scarce resources in the remaining days. With clarity and transparency, you’ll stop worrying about what isn’t getting done and have more time and the facts to use fewer days efficiently and effectively.

2. Prioritize Ruthlessly

Not everything on your list or the team’s can -- or even should -- get done. Ruthlessly prioritize where your time and your team’s should go every morning for the rest of the year. Spend your energy on work that ties clearly and directly to your quarter or annual goals and metrics … in other words, those things that actually move the needle for you and your boss. Using the matrix below can help distinguish what matters and make it easier to stop doing and stressing about the rest.

3. Don’t Sacrifice Yourself

When you’re most busy and stressed out (and the weather is bad), it’s tempting to sacrifice exercise and other healthy habits – don’t. Exercise and healthy eating reduce stress and increase your productivity as well as your perceived happiness. In fact, 20 minutes of exercise several days a week improves your happiness and productivity every day of the week! So set aside time even if it’s indoor yoga, stretching or working your own stairwell.

4. Lighten Up

When you find your anxiety or anger rising, stop what you’re doing to stop what you’re thinking. Take a short walk or stand, stretch and take a few deep breaths. Try a few “compassion breaths” to relax and lighten your perceived load:

  • Focus your attention on the sensation of anger, anxiety or stress – is it anxiety about lack of time, fear of failing or forgetting something critical, worry about achieving key milestones?
  • Rather than shifting away from the sensation, hold it in your attention.
  • Now think about all the millions of people in the world you don’t know that have that same anxiety or worry.
  • Take a long inhale, imaging that you are breathing in the collective anxiety, anger or stress of those millions of people.
  • Exhale, imaging that you are breathing out calm, peace, success or the antidote to those worries to all who experience it, including yourself.
  • Repeat three times, deepening your breath and holding it in longer each time and being more genuine in the compassion you convey with each out breath.

At the end, your sense of being alone with pressure will be replaced with more compassion for yourself and others – and your load will be lighter.

Rather than waiting until the New Year for the “new you”, December is an excellent time to operate at your best. The habits for a successful year end are also the habits for a successful year:

  • Set and share clear goals aligned with organization objectives
  • Allocate your efforts to achieving your goals above all else
  • Ensure you have the capacity to achieve goals operationally, emotionally, and physically

Apps like WorkBoard keep your effort and the team’s closely aligned to your goals and save a ton of time, which improves execution and lowers stress all year long. To improve your physical capacity to succeed, gift yourself Gretchen Reynold’s book, "The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer." With more professional and personal capacity, you’ll feel and do great!

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