End-of-Year Productivity Boosters

By Joshua Zerkel

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, you’re probably preoccupied with finishing up the details that come with closing out the year – final quarter reports, wrapping up projects, and of course, holiday parties! It’s an odd time in that for many of us, it can be both busy and slow at the same time – busy with busywork, slow in that it may not feel like a purposeful time.

If that’s true for you, there are few key things you can do with the remainder of the year to be poised for a goal-oriented, streamlined, and more productive 2013. Start with these:

Map out your goals. What do you want to happen in 2013, both on a large scale and on a smaller level? I’m not talking about resolutions like losing weight or getting organized – these are vague goals that typically don’t last past the first week in January. Rather, think about how you’d like to end 2013 – what will be different for you? What do you want to have happen during the year? Spend some time thinking about these results, then working backwards, break them down into their components and start mapping out on the calendar when you’d like to target some time for working on the components. This is much more powerful – and actionable – than simply saying “my goal is to XYZ.”

Choose your planning tool(s). The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is an ideal time to revisit your organizing and planning tools, determine what’s working, what could be better, and make appropriate changes. For instance, if you haven’t been crazy about the planner you’ve been using, this is an opportunity to check out what’s new in the FranklinCovey store. Maybe you’d been curious about using your smartphone as a calendar instead of paper – set aside a few minutes to explore the calendar function and see how well you like it. Spend time experimenting with planning tools now, rather than in the midst of the new year when you are getting busy with your commitments.

End the email deluge. Email can be a double-edged sword – it’s both is useful for communication, and can be a huge distraction and time-suck. To reduce the amount of time wasted on email, spend a few minutes in your inbox and ruthlessly unsubscribe from any newsletters or email lists that you don’t read regularly. Don’t worry – you can always re-subscribe to any newsletters that you feel like you’re missing out on (I’m positive they’ll be happy to welcome you back as a subscriber!). You can also use a service like Unroll.me to consolidate your newsletters and other subscriptions and make this process of organizing and unsubscribing a bit faster and easier.

Review your subscriptions and services. Speaking of services, open your credit card statement and review any recurring charges. Are you being billed for a service you don’t really use anymore – like a web-based music subscription service that you don’t listen to anymore, or a professional subscription that’s no longer relevant? These things have a way of just collecting, and although each one may not be a lot of money on its own, together these services and subscriptions can add up to a big chunk of change either monthly or annually. Take a few minutes to look over what you’re using – and what you’re not – and eliminate the waste.

Doing the things I just mentioned won’t take you much time up front – maybe an hour or two all told – but they can save you a lot of time, and make you more purposeful, productive, and effective.

Excellent advice Josh, thanks for sharing! 

Joshua Zerkel

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