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You Don’t have to Clear the Deck to Start Fresh. 3 Easy Things You Can Do NOW To Work More Effectively 

We’re in the throes of it. The holiday season.

The time of year when all hell breaks lose and many of us are working like maniacs. We’re fulfilling orders, packing and shipping products, and on top of that we may also be preparing for the holidays personally; buying gifts and planning celebrations with friends and family.

A normal reflex is to just barrel through all of it without a strategy, doing whatever it takes to get everything done. You swear to yourself that you’ll get organized next year, in January, after the storm has passed.

That’s all fine and good, but there are steps you can take right now to streamline your process and work more efficiently – and dare I say calmly and joyfully.  Here are three strategies which will help:


1. Identify what’s ‘urgent and important’ and work on that only

You may have heard of the productivity quadrant in which there are four kinds of tasks, those that: 1. Aren’t urgent but are important 2. Are urgent and important 3. Are urgent but not important and 4. Aren’t urgent and aren’t important. Right now you want to triage for all tasks that fall in category number 2: urgent and important. Things that you have to do and have to do ASAP (like filling orders.) Everything else can wait. It may make you nervous to shove some tasks to the side, but the next strategy helps with that…


2. Move all non-urgent to-do’s and emails to a collection point

A collection point can be an email folder, a digital task list, an Evernote folder or a to-do list or even a basket on your desk. It’s basically a place where you toss all the things that you’ll need to deal with later. Take a (little) time to sort through or review this collection point at the end of each day. If you decide something needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later, you can move it back into your ‘2’ category (urgent and important) and tackle it the next day


3. Minimise interruptions

Interruptions are the scourge of our time. They’re bad during normal work phases but can be disastrous during high-stress busy work cycles. Take advantage of online tools like Freedom, which blocks your computer from getting on the internet for a predetermined amount of time, or Anti-Social which blocks all social media platforms, also for an amount of time you determine. Shut down your email and turn of your phone. I know these may seem like extreme measures, but the world and the internet will wait, it’s easy to forget that, but they will.

This isn’t the revolution, but it will help smooth the rough edges of a peak work cycle and hopefully bring you some peace of mind while your cranking away to get it all done!


Do you have any tips or strategies that help during especially busy seasons?


{Ed Note from Jess: If you want to start off 2014 with a VERY ORGANISED bang, I recommend you check out Eleanor’s course – Steal This Process (aff) : “Get Clear, Get Calm, and Get to Work” – I was lucky enough to go through it this year, and highly recommend it.}

Image Source: Petradr from Unsplash

Eleanor Mayrhofer

Eleanor Mayrhofer has written 6 posts in this blog.

Eleanor Mayrhofer is the 'e.m.' behind e.m.papers, a printable stationery business. Before striking out on her own she worked for over 15 years at digital agencies as a designer, user experience practitioner, project manager and process methodology expert. She shares how to apply the expertise she gained in project management and methodology to running an indie business at Steal This Process.


Jennifer Kennedy

I’ve been working on all three of these items, as I’m very easily distracted and quick to work on something that’s not moving me forward. I feel like it’s rooted in fear of the unknown and/or not wanting to a specific task.

One thing I’d add that has really helped was working in specific time incriements. I set a timer foro 25-30 minutes and work on an important task. When time is up, I take a break for a few moments do do whatever — dance, watch YouTube videos, read a funny story — and then I repeat the process again.

Thanks for your tips and reminders. It’s especially important as we move into the new year!

What say you?