If you’re anything like me, the end of the calendar year is particularly challenging, both in terms of productivity and creativity.
Don’t be a Scrooge!
Every year, just about this time (mid-December) I begin to feel like I am the only writer who continues to be in my home office plugging away as the snow falls outside. Obviously this isn’t true. The truth is, people are busier with non-work related tasks, they do take time off to spend with friends and family, and they also tend to be much more distracted this time of year. When emails and phone calls go unanswered or people forget to show up for their interviews, don’t get cranky and curmudgeonly. Instead…
Schedule your interviews early in the month. That way if an appointment gets missed or bad weather or unexpected illness forces you to reschedule, you’ll have a little wiggle room. The same goes for written assignments. Don’t wait until the last minute, thinking you’ll be less tired and more focused. Chances are you won’t feel that way again until January!
Balance your workday
This one took me awhile to master, partially because my home office also doubles as a present-hiding site. It can be really hard to concentrate on meaningful writing when, out of the corner of your eye, you can see mounds of wrapped and unwrapped gifts beckoning you. The other problem with being home is I hear the UPS, FedEx, or mail truck pull in the driveway and I am instantly curious. What package could have arrived? I have to force myself to stay at the keyboard instead of rushing out, scissors in hand, to open it. And I hear the home phone ring incessantly (of course the office phone remains mute!) and think of all the baking and cooking I should be doing and it becomes harder and harder to write a coherent sentence.
How I’ve finally resolved this dilemma is to use my timer, the way I do for writing exercises. I work, take a quick break, work some more until 1 or 2:00. Then I allow myself to do two-three hours of holiday preparation. Around 5:00 I return to my computer to tidy up for the evening and make a “to do” list for the next day. I’ve found that, knowing I will have time for Christmas allows me to enjoy doing my work during the allotted time and vice versa.
Use December to tie up loose ends
Let’s face it; it is a distracting time of year. When you are feeling too frazzled to write something meaningful, use your work time to finish up those niggling tasks that you have been putting off forever.
For example, I balance my QuickBooks for the calendar year, calculate my mileage, straighten up my office, draw up a monthly outline for articles I want to write for specific publications, and make any necessary adjustments to my social media and website. It’s also a great time to plan what writing conferences or workshops you want to sign up for in 2017 as it gives you something to anticipate. If all these fail, try writing some professional (not personal) New Year’s resolutions!
Remember the reason for the season
Play holiday music (Bing! Burl!) while you type, eat a festive cookie with your mid-morning coffee, send cards or gifts to your editors, marketing firm, and anyone else who has helped your business grow in 2016. Or you can always do a seasonal blog post like I just did!
Above all, give yourself the gift of enjoying the month of December. After all it only comes once a year!