5 Tips to Be More Productive—And Kick Off the Holidays Stress-free

December 16, 2019

5 Tips to Be More Productive—And Kick Off the Holidays Stress-free

It’s that time of year to make your list and check it twice—your to-do list that is.

When you’re preparing for a vacation or heading out for the holidays, it can feel like a mad rush to get everything done. But it doesn’t have to. 

To avoid carrying your to-do list into the holidays, don’t focus on how busy you are. Focus on how productive you can be. This post is about how to get more done in less time.

“Being productive is more about rhythm than perpetual motion,” says Dave Crenshaw in Productivity Tips: Finding Your Rhythm.

Whether you're up against to-do lists for work deadlines or holiday shopping, use these 5 productivity tips to get on top of it, and gift yourself true time off.

5 Ways to Get More Done In Less Time 

#1 Maximize your most productive hours

When do you do your best thinking? First thing in the morning? Later in the day? Or are you a night owl who’s most productive after dark?

Pinpoint when you’re “on,” and use that time to do high-value work that requires the most brain power, whether it’s strategic planning, programming, or making sales calls.  

Also, take into consideration the rhythm of your organization. There are likely certain times of day, like after lunch or late afternoon, when you’re more likely to get interrupted. 

Plan ahead. These high-distraction times are perfect for lower-value tasks that don’t require your undivided attention, like responding to emails.

#2 Know when it’s time to take a break

Can you work for two hours straight, or do you need a break after 45 minutes? If you’re someone who needs a break but isn’t taking it, you should know that every minute you push past your period of productivity leads to diminishing returns. 

Do yourself a favor and instead of pushing through it, schedule several 10-15 minute breaks so you can maximize what you get done in smaller pockets of time. 

What should you do? Anything brief and free will work: listen to music, play a game on your phone, go for a walk. Choose something and test it out.

“Finding a regular cycle for peak performance isn't just a matter of personal happiness and job satisfaction, it's also a matter of improving both your productivity and career success,” says Crenshaw.

#3 Build buffers into your day

We’ve all been there: once one meeting runs over, things start to snowball and you feel behind the rest of the day. 

When you schedule back-to-back appointments, you don’t give yourself a chance to spend dedicated time on each topic. “And the more switches you make, the less productive you’re going to be and the more mistakes are going to happen,” says Crenshaw.

Avoid this trap by creating buffers in your schedule—10 minutes here, a half hour there. This provides a cushion when the unexpected happens and gives you transition time between tasks so you can get better results in a shorter amount of time.

#4 Make the most of your commute 

Your commute is an important transition time, and a great opportunity to create productive habits. 

On the way in to the office, focus on a learning-related activity to get your mind focused to perform at work. This can be listening to a career podcast or a LinkedIn Learning course like these bite-sized Time Management Tips or the Taking Charge of Your Career course—whatever will help you prime your brain for productivity. 

The commute home is a different story. This is a time to send a message to your brain that work is done, and it’s time to slow down and enjoy life. You can tune in to your favorite talk show, listen to an audio book or music, or if you’re on the train, play a game or watch a show on your phone. 

“Making productive transitions will make it easier for you to be both more focused at work, and a happier human being,” says Crenshaw.

#5 Schedule time to do nothing

There’s a theme here: breaks, margins, transitions, and now, downtime. If you want to hone your productivity, you must... slow… down.

Even when you have a long to-do list—especially when you have a long to-do list— schedule time to do absolutely nothing.

It may sound counterintuitive, but giving yourself time to do nothing will have a powerful effect on your mind.

“It'll help you recondition yourself and stop thinking about how busy you are and more about what you are accomplishing with [each] activity,” says Crenshaw.

For more productivity tips, including a self-audit to help you evaluate how you’re using time throughout the day, watch Productivity Tips: Finding Your Rhythm with Dave Crenshaw.

Other LinkedIn Learning courses you may be interested in: