In an unpredictable world, there’s still a lot we can predict about the near future. There are repeating cycles that happen every year. The beginning of January, when you’re fired up about your new goals and committed to making positive change. That phase in late February when everything just feels kind of blah and unfocused. The period in spring when you’re energized, recommitted to your goals and excited to see where your business can go this year… and so on.
We’re in the approaching-year-end phase now, and we all know what that looks like.
You’re looking at your revenue and other metrics for the year and stressing about getting them where you want them to be. You want to end the year feeling great about where your business and your bottom line are, so it’s important that you give work 100% over the next few months. But the Thanksgiving stress is coming. If you celebrate Christmas or other winter holidays, it’s already time to start thinking about everything that entails. Big-picture planning for business next year needs to start. You’d love to be able to completely relax and spend quality time with your loved ones during the holiday season.
Ultimately, you’re dreading the internal tug of war that’s going to create so much stress for you the next few months. And you know it’s coming because you’ve been through it so many times before.
One problem with seeing the year in such predictable phases is that it’s easy to get stuck in thinking that everything—including your time management challenges—is inevitable.
You can get stuck thinking, well, that’s just the way things are at the end of the year. Like you should just accept that the next few months are going to be hugely stressful. Like you can’t make any changes to your life or adopt new habits until January comes around and the New Year’s resolution phase starts.
Wrong! It’s never “too late” in the year to make real behavioral change and create new habits that help you take control of your time and use it to create the personal and professional life you want.
I’m not even talking about big, sweeping change. Let’s be real, you have enough going on at this time of year to be transforming your entire business or committing to a radical new exercise regimen. But what about smaller change? Things you can adopt quickly, that could lead to bigger positive shifts?
For inspiration, check out four examples of daily habits from successful executives, realtors and coaches—maybe you’ll find something to copy!
- Talia McKinney, a high volume real estate agent in NYC, starts her day by asking Alexa to play happy music and naming one thing she’s grateful for—before she gets out of bed in the morning. Her daily schedule is chaotic and sometimes unpredictable, but she has one standing goal each day: to meet three new people. In real estate, where connections are everything, who knows how many sales that simple goal will lead to?
- Shekhinah Bass, a top executive at Goldman Sachs and mother of five, swears by timeboxing as a top time management and productivity hack. It’s a strategy that works for a lot of people. She starts her week by scheduling her days into blocks for meetings, deep-focus work and breaks. When time is up on a designated block, she moves on to the next scheduled block. Using this approach means you might not finish each task before moving to a new one and it’s not ideal for those times when you need flexibility in your calendar. But, it can be a very useful time management strategy if you’re often frozen by overwhelm. Having a clear plan for what you’re going to do when eliminates the stress of staring down a to-do list and having no idea what to do next.
- Sean Moudry, a high-volume real estate agent and now a real estate coach, established a time management system designed around the days of the week. He designated Mondays for meetings and paperwork, Tuesdays for following up on leads and scheduling second showings, Wednesdays for appointments and Thursdays and Fridays for lead generation and setting up appointments for the coming week. This strategy also isn’t viable for everyone, but do think about whether assigning certain tasks to certain days of the week might feel useful for you.
- Laura Modi, a former executive who founded a baby-formula startup called Bobbie, launched her business during a national formula shortage—so every day was about leading a growing company while in crisis management mode. She adopted a few simple behavioral strategies to cope and thrive. First, she started playing war ballads before meetings to get in the right mindset to (figuratively) lead her team into battle. Second, she eats a small bowl of frozen chocolate chips every afternoon as a pick-me-up. Third, before bed each night she rates her day on a scale of 1 to 5, both professionally and personally. It’s a quick way to check in with herself and assess what went well that day and what could go better the next day.
Maybe some of these examples resonate with you, or maybe they don’t. But ask yourself:
What kinds of simple habits or behavioral changes could you implement right now to boost your mood and productivity, as well as eliminate time stress?
Whatever it is, the key is to take some action now to make sure you’re ready to tackle the end of the year rather than letting it tackle you!
3 Action Steps for Breaking the Year-End Cycle
- Shake up your daily routines and habits. If timeboxing or changing your entire weekly calendar is too daunting, think smaller. Maybe it’s setting a goal to meet one new person a day, or creating an afternoon ritual where you have a special treat and listen to a certain kind of music to get yourself in the right mindset for a tough task. Those are the really achievable kinds of habits that can lead to big results.
- Get clear about what you really want life to look like the next few months, both professionally and personally. What are the absolute, non-negotiable things you want to accomplish at work? Where does year-end revenue need to be for you to feel content about what you did this year? On the personal side, how much rest time do you need? What are the activities and people you’re prioritizing right now?
- Become comfortable with not saying yes. Business owners, real estate agents, consultants, lawyers and other professionals are inundated with tasks all year, but things really ramp up at this time of year. There’s always another contact who needs a favor in December, another holiday event invitation, another former client who has just one question… It’s your default to want to say yes to every potential opportunity or client who comes along. Protecting your personal time during the end of the year requires saying no to some things. Give yourself permission now to say no to the invitations and requests that aren’t aligned with your professional or personal priorities.
Let’s take action on your time management and productivity goals.
Ready to take your business to the next level and create breathing room that lets you live the personal life you crave? Join me 11/30-12/2 for Time Matters Boot Camp LIVE! This 3-day core productivity and time management training is designed to help you take control of your time so you can move your business forward, increase revenue and have more time on the personal side. Early bird pricing ends November 20th—register now for an investment of only $297! Click here for more details and to register.
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