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By Anja van den Berg

During the holiday season, making even the slightest progress at work can seem like a mammoth task. With most people off to vacation – and off the grid – it’s not easy to stay motivated or to get any real work done.

“Being at work can seem pointless and frustrating when you’re the only one trying to keep things on track,” says Dorie Clark, the author of Entrepreneurial You, Reinventing You, and Stand Out.

However, Clark adds, it is possible to motivate yourself and make your time at the office count. To make the most of a less than ideal situation, Clark recommends that you balance your time between deep work and minor tasks. Also, allocate some time every day to reward yourself.  Let’s briefly unpack your plan:

Start with deep work

The secret to attaining extraordinary professional success is our ability to engage in what computer science Professor Cal Newport calls “deep work” This is opposed to ”shallow work”: the tedious tasks that occupy our day, like responding to email or sitting through pointless meetings.

With professionals sending and receiving an average of 122 emails per day, it can be hard to carve out the space to work on meaningful tasks, like developing your go-to-market strategy or launching a new podcast. However, when most of your coworkers and suppliers are on vacation elsewhere, the level of incoming messages drops dramatically. In turn, you will have more freedom to schedule uninterrupted blocks of time to tackle important projects you’ve been putting off, but which could significantly benefit your career.

Move to cleaning up minor tasks

Next up: minor tasks that you never get time to do. Devote one to two hours a day to wrap up smaller niggles that have been impeding your productivity throughout the year. “We all have a list of projects that ought to be done, but never rise to the top of your to-do list,” Clark explains.

Perhaps it’s organising your desk so you can find your files when you need them, instead of wasting minutes every day fumbling through a wobbling stack. It could be handling those expense reports that the accounting department has been asking you for or writing a recommendation letter for your former intern.  Now is also the perfect time to update your professional online profiles, like LinkedIn, and update your CV with your most recent achievements. If you’re feeling temporarily unmotivated, wrapping up minor tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day as you can wipe a multitude of trivial to-dos from your slate.

Lastly, reward yourself

Promise yourself various treats at certain times or after finishing a job. For instance, after completing that rigorous report, make yourself a coffee and kick back for ten minutes. If your work is getting done, there’s no harm in allowing yourself some treat time to stay driven and focused on the rest of your tasks.

Obviously, your first choice won’t be to be at work during the festive season. But even if you’re not on vacation, you can still reap the benefits of others taking time off. The reward for holding down the fort is uninterrupted time to embrace meaningful work, clear out the cobwebs that have been hindering your productivity, and extra time to set yourself up for a successful 2021.



Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2016/08/how-to-stay-motivated-when-everyone-else-is-on-vacation

Pertemps: https://www.pertemps.co.uk/candidates/career-advice/life-at-work/heres-how-to-stay-motivated-when-everyone-else-is-on-vacation/

Bellecommunication : https://bellecommunication.com/5-ways-to-stay-motivated-at-work-during-the-holidays/

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