Holiday vacations tend to begin about 48 hours before they are scheduled to begin. It’s no wonder, as there is so much to do to prepare for a trip out of town and time with the relatives. And a large extent of that ordeal is the mental preparation. Everyone begins running down a checklist of to-dos in their heads long before they clock out. Oh, they might look concerned about the latest kerfuffle involving the labeling of food items in the break room fridge, but beneath that thin veneer, they’re debating between the tried-and-true fur-lined parka versus the layered approach of a cashmere sweater under a lightweight windbreaker.
So how do you keep your team focused and on task during short work weeks of the holiday season? How do you make the most of the time? Here are five ideas to keep productivity up during a season in which business is often far from people’s minds.
Clean up your email inbox. I once knew someone who had more than 14,000 emails in his box. That is the digital equivalent of being a hoarder. It’s gross. Clean out your inbox because if it were capable of stinking, it would and to high heaven. Begin with your flagged emails and follow up on the most important stuff first.
Clean up your workspace. Now that you’re in a cleaning mood keep it going by ensuring that your workspace is equally as neat and tidy. Have a place for everything and put everything in its proper place. This will save loads of time later on when you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to search.
Re-read Your Sent Mail. Now that everything’s clean open that email back up and have a look at the messages you’ve been sending people. This is the way that you communicate with the world. So how’s it look from this end, as someone reading it? Are you conveying the tone you want? Are you wasting people’s time by being overly verbose? Are you ambiguous, unclear or wishy-washy? Take some notes and decide what changes you need to make to be a better communicator.
Make upgrades. Think back on all the times that a piece of equipment moved to slow or kept breaking down. You swore that one of these days you were going to just fix or replace it. Now is that time. Say adios to that piece-of-crap copier that jams every third page. Take turns hitting ye olde fax machine pinata-style with a baseball bat. Even if it’s something as simple as the coffee maker, a new piece of technology goes a long way in restoring office morale.
Use the phone. One piece of old-timey technology that is still necessary is the telephone. And while you might not use it as often as you once did, this is the time of year when it does its best work. There’s something about the holidays that demands a personal touch. You can show others that their business relationship means more to you than just numbers on a spreadsheet, that you value them as people. The way you do that is by talking to them, thanking them and wishing them well. It’s just good business.