With the promise of a shiny new year upon us, don’t allow the last quarter to become the ‘lost quarter.’
Q4 is often referred to as the ‘lost quarter’ because so many of us have dancing sugar plum fairies in our heads and exotic plans to make for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
But don’t write-off the last two months because the holidays are upon us, you can still get a lot down.
In terms of productivity and work — for me, this means writing — the fourth quarter of the year can be less productive if you don’t set your intention to make it the most productive.
Don’t allow future expectations of fun, and gifts to give and receive, derail you from finishing the year strong and on a productive note. There is still time to accomplish your goals or, at least, get another step closer to achieving them.
Two months is a good amount of time.
Here are four ways to get the most out of the last quarter
Before the madness starts and your brain is on overdrive with thoughts of one more present to buy, how to baste a turkey, deciding whether your family stays with you or a nearby hotel, and digging up last years pumpkin pie recipe your father-in-law raved about, realize that it is OK to let go and allow the unexpected to happen.
Your daughter will need help with that last minute project for school, and you will be invited to one more party where you are asked to bring a side dish.
If you know this before hand, it helps ease the pressure.
Take into account the time of year, and realize some days you will not get as much done as you thought you would. Setting realistic expectations allows for greater kindness for yourself if you don’t get everything accomplished you aimed to acheive in the last quarter.
Check-in with yourself now
It is better to access now in the beginning of November instead of waiting until the end of December. Check-in with yourself and mark both your progress and steps needed to achieve certain tasks by the end of the year.
Tie up those looses ends you’ve been dreading
Choose one or two tasks you’ve been resolving to accomplish this year but haven’t yet.
If you have them written down, reread them. It would also help to post them on your wall next to your desk so you can see them everday for the next 60 days.
Finishing the tasks you have been putting off sets you up for a positive start in the New Year — January.
Be honest. Everyone has one, or maybe two things they absoluting dread getting to, I know what mine are. Find yours.
Set a goal of getting those finished and off your plate during the home stretch, so they aren’t still nagging at you come January.
Steps to knock out these tasks that have been lingering
- Simplify — write down the tasks you need to get done in the next two months. Break them down into smaller tasks that can be done in an hour per day, or in a weekly chunk of time.
- Prioritize them — when I don’t want to do somethig, and have been putting it off, I schedule it on my calendar for the morning, as the first task I need to accomplish. This is the fastest way to get it out of the way. Then you have the whole day for other things you don’t mind doing, things that take less mental energy.
- Distractions — to accomplish the goals we want to get off our plates this last quarter requires for you to be serious about managing distractions. This means, for most of us, put your smartphone away during crucial hours in the morning when you are trying to accomplish these last minutes tasks. This includes; texting, phone conversations, email, social media, TV, etc.
Block out time
Instead of evenly pacing your tasks over the next two months, block off large chunks of time to make more progress in that block by kicking yourself into high gear.
I often do this on the weekends when my daughter is off with her friends.
Sometimes four highly focused hours can be more productive than having little bits of time scattered here and there during the week.
During those blocks of time, focus only on the task at hand. This means, put your smartphone in another room, shut the door, ask your partner to walk the dog so you can get to work and concentrate for a large amount of time. Don’t leave your desk until that predetermined time is reached.
The key to not giving in to the busyness of the holidays and the excitement it brings, when most of us are not in control of our time, is to treat the last quarter like all the other quarters.
When you treat this last quarter as the others, come January you will be prepared for the next year. It will also be easier to access what your next goals are because you made time for the completion of last year’s tasks in November and December despite the holiday season.
Having accomplished those things you put off all year in this last quarter will have you off to a great start come 2020.
Clearing the Clutter from One’s Life Equals More Productivity in Your Writing
Make room for what is truly important.
Jessica is a writer, an online entrepreneur, and a recovering perfectionist. She lives in Los Angeles with her extrovert daughter, two dogs, and two cats.