December is a notoriously difficult time to motivate yourself to work. It’s dark outside, there’s a million things to do to prepare for holiday season, and workplace parties tend to shift everybody’s mind to the prospect of an office romance – much nicer to daydream about than spreadsheets and invoices, whether they are big projects or small tasks. Never mind the four-day week, why has nobody suggested the 11-month year?
Well, aside from being the darkest and most delicious of the months, December is also a big month for business. In retail, the cash register never stops ringing; service and hospitality businesses are pushed to bursting point. Even businesses where the holiday season doesn’t directly influence the workflow tend make themselves busy with all kinds of end-of-year summarizing and tidying up. If you don’t play your part, your boss may very well turn you out on your ear before you can say ‘Auld Lang Syne.’
Thankfully, there are professional techniques to overcome this downturn in energy. For example, if your workplace gets busy during the silly season, try to think of December as a new project in itself – rather than the completion of 11 months non-stop work. Treating tough tasks as new projects can help you to access unexpected sources of motivational energy.
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Tips for completing small tasks or big ones
And if December is a particularly stressful month, come back at it with a smile that is equal and opposite to the strain of getting things done. A positive mental outlook – including, quite literally, smiling – can reduce stress levels and anxiety, making you more equipped to crack on with things. And guess what: smiles are contagious. Once your festive cheer starts to snowball around the office there will be no stopping you or your colleagues. Trouble cracking that first smile? Watch a funny video or try to make new December rituals for the workplace, such as daily cake or a comical yearly run-down of how things have gone.
But there are also tried and tested tricks to use that work year around. Perhaps the number one anti-procrastination rule is: start with something small. If you have big tasks and small tasks, begin a small, achievable one first, just to get momentum. If you only have big tasks, divide the first one up into a series of small tasks; the first mini-task might be as simple as ‘pick up the phone.’
For a full guide to making yourself work when you don’t feel like it this winter, check out this useful infographic from NetCredit.