How to create holiday urgency every day
I’m about to go on holidays for a month and whilst I will still be checking emails and doing work that is time sensitive during that period, there’s that mad scramble to finish everything before I go. There are two things that I’ve found happen every time just before I go away.
Firstly, there’s a sudden inflow of new work that means I start to feel as though perhaps I should just cancel the holiday altogether as the timing isn’t right to be going away. And secondly, I have this urge to do absolutely everything before I go, even those jobs that I’ve put off for months and months, now it feels like I just have to get them done.
In dealing with both these issues, the stress builds up, decisions become difficult, logical priorities fly out the window and an effective lack of focus sets in. The secret is in what we do the other weeks of the year, not just in the week or two before the holiday.
There are lessons that we can all learn from these situations. To me it’s all about setting deadlines. Having worked the majority of my life as a tax accountant, I was constantly dealing with deadlines that were never-ending and ensured focus and high productivity day in day out, week in week out.
So what can we all do to reduce the pre-holiday stress of finishing work:
Have a weekly To-Do List that not only set targets for work that needs to be done that week but also slips in a few of those other tasks that need to be done sometime. By doing a few of the jobs that don’t have a specific deadline means that you will slowly be chipping away at that list week by week.
Set your own deadlines for when you want work to be completed. Then treat that deadline as absolute and do everything you can to complete the job before the deadline.
Find yourself an accountability buddy, share your deadlines with them and then check in regularly about whether you’re on target or not. This buddy needs to be someone who will hold you to your word and remind you of the deadlines.
Keep a tally of all tasks completed by the deadlines. This might be ticks on a white board or gold stars in your journal. Whatever you choose put it somewhere that you can see it every day as a reminder. Then make it a game to see whether you can get more with each passing week or month.
Consider setting yourself targets for how many tasks will be completed every week or each month. I’ve set myself a target to do at least 25 tasks a week from my to-do list. Most weeks now I’ve achieved 30+ and when I tick them off at the end of the week, I feel good about the weeks’ work.
These steps deal with the mad scramble to finish off work, but they don’t deal with the issue of new work that pours in just before you go on holidays.
For me this becomes a major challenge particularly when the work is exactly the work I love doing and from people who I have great respect for and would love to be working with. I don’t want to let these opportunities slip through my fingers. Like everything in life, I believe that honesty is the answer. Bite the proverbial bullet, tell them the truth and how you will work around it, if they value what you do, they will work in with you.
So whilst I now have 5 days before I get on the plane, I have a planned week with realistic deadlines and a few conversations I need to have about when I can start on new jobs. The usual stress is gone and priorities are in place. Have you put in place a system to create the deadlines that put in place holiday urgency every week of the year?
About the contributor:
Amanda Fisher fuses accounting and technology to help improve business. Amanda’s mission in life is to educate business owners on how to understand and interpret their business numbers to make informed decisions. She shares that knowledge in a fun and inspiring manner. Amanda’s easy to understand style has enabled her clients to come to grips with the numbers and use them to improve cashflow, profits and their take home. Website: http://amandafisher.com.au