Some of the most important things in life are intangible: health, love, time. I can’t help much with health and love. But I do have some productivity tips to share, because people generally don’t walk around during the holiday season thinking, "I have plenty of time!"
Here are some ideas that might help you make the most of your time:
When planning your day, do the hard stuff first. Although it seems like human nature to put off a difficult phone call or a hard-to-write email, getting it done early in the day creates a sense of accomplishment. (I also like to group multiple hard tasks together. If I'm going to be in a bad mood, I might as well make the most of it.) When you're finished, the tough stuff is no longer hanging over you, draining your energy. Freedom!
On a similar note, if you can control the order of your tasks, do the important things first. (These are sometimes also the hard things.) Author Stephen Covey demonstrated this by filling a jar with big rocks, then pebbles, then sand. At first, people thought it was a lesson about how much you could cram into the jar. But his point was actually that if the big rocks didn't go in first, they would never fit. Take care of the "rocks" first.
Rocks = important things.
The article “The Best Way to Change Your Habits? Control Your Environment” by Gregory Ciotti discusses an interesting way to set up habits. For example, he uses different devices depending on what he's doing -- a laptop is for emails but more meaningful writing is done at a desktop computer. The electronics help signal his brain what he’ll be working on. You can use this for other writing tasks, too. For instance, I always proofread in a different room from my regular writing and editing.
Other productivity tips include the power of getting started, working with scheduled breaks, and dividing tasks into manageable pieces. "The Science of Productivity" is a fun three minute video from The Sparring Mind that explains these concepts and a few more.
If you have other time-saving or productivity tips for this busy time of year, please share them below. I hope you find time for all the important things in 2015!