Despite all the marketing hype bombarding us on the radio, TV and in department stores, the Holidays may indeed not be the most magical or wonderful time of year. In business, it’s usually the end of the fiscal or calendar year, or at least the quarter close. Did you want to use up those extra PTO and sick days for an extended break? Wait! First, there are things to do:
- Close the books for end of year
- Meet or come in under final budgets
- Complete all projects, quotes, goals, etc.
- Tie up the hundred loose ends
- And then there’s the overhanging reminder it starts all over again on January 1.
During the festivity of the season, sometimes it’s all the more difficult to complete your tasks when the cube farm next to you is celebrating the “12 Days of Christmas” every afternoon at 3pm. How is it possible they can celebrate with candy cane punch and chocolate macaroons when there’s so much work to do? Sometimes, despite all the best pre-planning and colorful GANTT charts created, projects aren’t finished until the last minute. Some people say they do their best work at the 11th hour.
“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” ― Bill Watterson (cartoonist of Calvin and Hobbes)
Procrastination. Either you’re in the middle of it or you’ve avoided it.
Deadlines will always loom large. I’m guilty of procrastination. If I have 20 papers to assess and they’re not due until Monday, I may wait until Sunday night. Even though I know Sunday night I just want to relax and not think about work. A student told me she was struggling to get her work in on time. She said she kept putting off her assignments, but then she would lie awake at night thinking about how she just should have gotten the work done the day before. She ended up frantically writing a last-minute draft just to have something to submit and then worried it wasn’t going to be good enough to meet criteria.
Whether in academia or in the workplace, procrastination and worrying go hand-in-hand. As soon as you feel those warning signs creeping in, combat them. Start or stick to your task checklists. Keep only high-priority work on your desk or within reach. Limit e-mail or social media check-ins. (Don’t even go near Candy Crush.) Allocate the right amount of time for a project. And don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments. Few of us are rock stars and no one applauds when we turn off the lights in our office each night.
Plan ahead with your projects and stick to your timetable. Remember to congratulate yourself on a job completed and done well. I’ve added this as my system shutdown audio file. I think you should, too. You deserve it.
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