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With over a third of the country expected to be traveling this holiday season, it's likely that a few of you out there will be taking a trip, whether you're seeing loved ones + friends or going on a vacation. It's the heaviest travel time of the year for a reason!

In recent years, the week between Christmas and New Years has taken on a new purpose for the American workforce- a week off. Companies are slowly realizing that productivity dips greatly  between the holidays (see our most recent post), and the benefit of boosted morale as well as cost savings for shutting down offices for a week is tough to ignore. Almost a third of American workers are off between December 24th and January 2nd, and 50 percent of those are due to the office being closed.

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While a break is SO NEEDED by this time of the year, it can be hard to come back on January 2nd ready to hit the ground running. Ever sat down at your desk the second day of the year and thought: ".. Where did I leave off?"

Help out 2017 You by prepping your space and your work to be ready to go the moment you set foot in your office (alright, catch up by the coffeemaker first).

1. Get a buddy.

If your office is not closed, ask a coworker you trust to keep an eye on things for you. If you have a client who might call, or a project that might need a quick question answered, it can help by briefing a coworker on a few details, or even just leaving a cheat sheet for them  (phone numbers or project info) in case something needs attention.

2. Leave yourself a note.

Write down every project and it's current status, noting even if the email ball is in your court or someone else's. Waiting for feedback? Need to check-in on something? Write it all down. You think you'll remember, but you most likely will not. Plus, you brain will thank you for some free space for a week.

3. Try to tie up loose ends.

The week before break, make an effort to move projects to a natural stopping place. Abandoning something in the middle of a feedback loop can be challenging to reposition yourself in once you return.

4. Take advantage of the break.

In the creative field, it's often hard to gain some perspective and space when you're brainstorming and in an office 40 hours a week. Use the break to give your ideas some room to grow, and come back to your desk with some fresh thoughts. While no, you won't be paid for "working" during this time, your work will benefit, and isn't that the point?

5. Clean your desk.

You know how it feels when you leave everything in a scattered state of disarray before vacation, and then return to a chaotic, messy living space? It's a little icky and discouraging, right? Start off the new year with a mean, clean workspace and you'll be ready to go on day one. And we mean actually clean (that means your keyboard, too) – it's something productive to do during that challenging December slump and it will really make a difference in your mental state.

6. Don't overbook.

It's doubtful that most people would set up a ton of meetings for the first day back, but try to keep  your meetings to a minimum. Yeah, it's great to catch up with everyone in the office, but you'll probably do that on your own time anyways. Being in relaxation mode for so long increases the need for you to decompress once you're back at work.

A fresh start in January sets the tone for the rest of the year, and This Year You should really do all you can for Next Year You. Hopefully these tips will help!

 
Posted: 12/21/2016 12:42:40 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


We all know this is the trickiest time of year for productivity. The wreaths are out, the lights are up, and we'd all rather be out playing in the snow than plugging away at year-end projects in a too-hot or too-cold room full of people.

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While it's easy to slip into the trap of online shopping (so many good deals, we *know*), you'll find it's just as easy to keep your productivity revved and ready to go. We promise.

How? Ideas below:

1) Play some music.

Nobody knows what's playing in those headphones. Even if you usually are a podcast person, why not pipe in some holiday tunes to keep your spirits up. Close your eyes for a split second a couple times every hour and pretend you're at home in slippers by a fire. Visualization is a powerful thing.

2) Chat with family at lunch.

If the holidays bring about a strong urge for your mom's cookies or your kids' enthusiasm for Santa Claus? Call your sister at lunch. Chat with your mom on the drive home, or Facetime with your nieces while you're eating at your desk. Spending time with loved ones always boosts morale, will remind you why you're working so hard (Santa doesn't exist unless your paycheck can buy some gifts), and will make you feel less like you're missing out on family time.

3) Reward yourself.

Bring in some holiday cookies and use them as motivational bait. Only eat one after you've crossed something off your to-do list. Enjoy the heck out of it so you keep chugging away at that list.

4) Don't ignore your habits.

This is the time of year when your true work self shines through. If you don't work very efficiently in the afternoons, you really won't work efficiently December afternoons. If you know you'll be a little prone to distractions later in the day, maybe work something out with your boss where you come in earlier. They'll appreciate your desire to reach your goals and will probably appreciate the honesty. Everybody knows what this time of year is like.

5) Organize a potluck.

Cultivate a workplace community and organize a potluck. It might be limited to your office kitchen's capabilities, but you'll learn a little about your coworkers cooking skills and maybe even get a recipe or two you can use for your own holiday parties.

6) Give your coworkers gifts.

Doesn't have to be anything big. Even just candies or cookies or a little ornament to keep the festivity alive. You'll bring a little of your own holiday cheer into your workplace, and spreading positivity around is never a bad thing.

 

Posted: 12/19/2016 3:05:33 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments


The music, the twinkle lights, the COOKIES – the season of festivity has rolled around once again. The holidays are coming, the new year is soon to be celebrated, there are parties and social gatherings, ugly christmas sweaters are abundant, and the online shopping? So cheap! No wonder it's so many people's favorite time of year.

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December is to the year what Saturday is to the work week, when everyone is so excited to get out of the office and hang out with frie– wait, what? We're still working here, people!

Trading the laughter, gift-giving, and flannel pajamas for lukewarm coffee in flourescent lighting is a challenge for even the most dedicated of employees. They're itching for vacation to start, anxious about traveling, and distracted by constant holiday marketing. Pair that with end-of-year goals yet to be reached, and your work is cut out for you.

As a manager, what do you do?

1) Plan early.

Once employees are already in the holiday hole, it's tricky to dig them back out. So set your goals for the end of the year early, and establish milestones to reach throughout the fourth quarter, pushing more important ones to earlier on. The home stretch of the year is when people are mentally inclined to coast towards vacation, so putting them to work earlier will get the most results.

2) Beat holiday burnout by embracing the holiday.

When the snow and hot chocolate and twinkle lights are all outside, guess where your employees want to be. Why not let a little of the holidays come into the office? Put up a little tree, or have an hour one afternoon where people can decorate their desks with holiday cheer. Keeping in mind that not everyone celebrates the same holidays (or any holidays), try to steer it less towards Santa Claus and more towards a cozy winter atmosphere.

Add some Andes mints to the kitchen's hot chocolate stash and hang some lights from the ceiling. You could even encourage people to wear slippers at their desks to stay warm and comfy.

3) Praise employees strengths.

Make a point to boost your team's productivity by recognizing their strengths. Being praised for their talents gets a momentum going that's hard to break, so keep feeding your employees encouragement. The new year brings about a lot of self-reflection and you want them to be satisfied at their jobs, right?

4) Add incentives.

Make bonuses contingent on meeting certain goals and they're almost certainly guaranteed to be at the top of people's to-do lists. This might be in the hands of your HR department, so then offer rewards of a different kind. Say, leaving a little early the last day the office is open, or being more flexible with people's travel schedules, or even a long team lunch.

Another strategy is a Power Hour (nope, not the drinking version) - there are so many distractions this season that even if you're focused, temptations are thrown at you left and right. Set one hour every day where no one is to bother anyone else, distractions are to be kept to a minimum (no Facebook, no phone calls, no online shopping), and employee's goals should be to get as many things complete as possible. Realistically, one hour isn't sufficient to cross a whole slew of things off your To-Do list, but on the other hand, they'd be a little less productive without your hour of productivity. Plus, employees like structure, especially when the whole team is in on it.

5) Let people take time off.

The amount of work you have is gaseous (it will take up all the space you allow it, no matter how much there is), so assume the work will get done even if people take some time off. Limiting vacation will only lead to disgruntled, unhappy employees. While the entire month off is a bit of a stretch, a week + is totally reasonable for the one time of year most people see extended family. Your gift in return will be happy, healthy, appreciative and positive-thinking employees come 2017.

Posted: 12/7/2016 11:50:33 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments