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Maxing out 2017…

Eight ways to max out the remaining months…

Hey savvy readers – dare I say it? Xmas Decorations! I know right? They’re already appearing in the shops –  a fitting reminder that yet another year is about to wrap. At work we’re prepping the Xmas party plan, The Mighty Annual Bakeoff ( a seriously competitive gig in my office), secret santa, closure holiday planning. At home, ‘must catch up before Xmas’ texts, selecting party outfits, booking said holiday, and..oh wait! Just when you think you can’t squeeze another ounce out of the year, I’ve found 8 ways to do so. Yes seriously! Read on…

Gear up for 2018

A great way to transition into a new year is to get organized beforehand. Sorting out paperwork, clearing the closet, even doing a spot of redecorating – how refreshing to wake up to the new year with order in place of chaos (as well as the obligatory hangover)?  Build your plan, lock in a few hours and look at how you might gear up home and heart for the new year

Love those longer evenings

Extended daylight just begs to be taken advantage of so why not make a plan to make the most of it? After-work drinks on a sunset viewing balcony? Call your buddies stat! Moonlight cinema? Book it! Balmy evening walk? Grab the dog! Twilight picnic with your besties? Organise it! Favourite personal goal? Set aside an hour for it. Less evening TV, more fun.

Reflect on the year thus far

Rather than worry about what you haven’t done this year, reflect on all that you have achieved. Grab that journal and list everything you’ve actually accomplished – bet that list is longer than you realise. If it’s been a tough year for whatever reason, use the opportunity to put it to bed, secure closure and promise yourself you’ll start the new year with a clean slate.

Plan that holiday

Short getaways are a great start – use any remaining leave you have from work to take a long weekend or a short holiday. Whether grabbing a little respite from our long hot summer through a winter-themed activity or trading our sun for another with a tropical escape, you’ll be ticking a new country off the bucket list (check out Let’s talk Bucket Lists Baby) while doing so. Worried about the money towards the end of the year? Read Career Girl’s budgeting for Christmas now guide to making traveling the world super affordable.

Embrace party season

As the calendar starts filling with those ‘must catch up for drinkies before Xmas’ gigs; look on them as a chance to make the most of having friends around. A chance to regroup, celebrate, commiserate, let them know you care, the perfect opportunity to agree that we’ll all make the new year the best year yet.

Consider yourself an introvert? Compile a list of fun questions everyone likes to respond to e.g. holiday plans; best/worst xmas pressies ever received; best/worst parties attended; New Year goals etc. Then choose the gigs that will feel most satisfying and consider them a perfect opportunity to have a good laugh while leaving a positive reminder of your fabulous listening skills. It’s ok to sneak out before the party starts getting out of control, knowing you’ve left a positive impression with reputation intact.

Make new friends

I call networking ‘making new friends’. Introduce yourself to just one person you’ve not met before while you’re at those gigs. Ask them what they love about their jobs, their career goals for the new year, if you might connect on LInkedIn. If you’re in the job market, Christmas is actually one of the best times to network for people are more relaxed, and so are you. A perfect way to get your personal brand out there too.

Plan something for the coming year

Do you experience that post-Christmas dip? Even when you love your job, returning to work after the magic of Christmas can be downright sad!  If you have a January birthday, yay! You get to plan another party, if not, make something happen! Whether it’s something you want to kick the year off with, or a party or social gathering – get your Facebook invitations sent out now.

Start something new

You don’t have to wait to start a new activity. If you want to train for a marathon, join a gym or take up a new hobby, there’s no time like the present. The perfect anecdote for New Year Resolutions and just think of the head start you’ll have on everyone else beginning in January.

More time saving hacks? Take my money!

Implemented a few of those productivity hacks yet? Feeling empowered?  I’ll confess sweet readers – I had 20 fabulous hacks for clawing back precious hours in that last post but hey, we’re meant to be reclaiming time not losing it reading lengthy blogs! Ready for the next ten now?  These are focused on personal well being, tried and road tested and worked a treat.

Ten more fabulous time saving hacks

  1. Always wondering what to eat? Choose the same thing for lunch for one week, then pick something new the next. Great for saving time pondering the menu board at the local foraging station.
  2. Lost your favourite cup? Keep a decanter and glass, or water bottle, on your desk. Same with a coffee vessle. One less cup to find each day.
  3. Cluttered desk doing your head in? Clean your desk once a week. Friday afternoon’s ideal for this and damn it feels good! Happy hour your reward while Monday launches with a whole fresh start.
  4. Noisy work neighbours? Download noisily, white noise or rain rain if having trouble concentrating. Perfect for drowning out the hubbub of open plan offices.
  5. Needing playlist stimulation? Download Spotify and take the thinking out of searching for playlists to listen to. Spotify creates ones especially for you based on your existing preferences.
  6. Sugar lull just kicked in? Have a sealed container of healthy nibbles on hand – keeps said hand out of the cookie jar.
  7. Oops, just remembered someone’s birthday? Keep several neutral greeting cards, on hand. Perfect for those last minute gifts.
  8. And emergency pressie? Add gender and theme neutral wrapping paper and ribbon to the card stash.
  9. Mobile phone dying at that critical moment? Drop a spare charger in the drawer, charge via laptop.
  10. Headache? Blister? Cold? Keep a personal emergency kit at work. Doesn’t need to contain everything for an earthquake, just everyday things that make life easier…

Goodies for the emergency kit

  • Medicine you may need plus basic emergency items including pain killers, flu tabs, UTI relief sachets, band-aids, eye-drops, lozenges, mints –  ah! sweet relief.
  • A scarf if you get chilly – I’ve had grown men borrow my Pashmina when the air-conditioning over compensates!
  • Primary cosmetic duplicates – ‘course I’ll be there (refreshed) for post work drinkies!
  • Mini manicure set – farewell hangnails
  • Mini nail polish remover or wipes – sayonara chipped and tacky nail polish
  • Mini sewing kit – goodbye wardrobe malfunction
  • Wet wipes- ciao clothing spills and sticky fingers
  • Hand cream – hooroo stocking static, bye scratchy hands
  • Spare pair of tights – murphy’s law and all that
  • Pair of neutral earrings – forgot to put them in this morn, feel half undressed!
  • Pair of comfy back up shoes – oh hallelujah, praise your lord!

Have any fantabulous hints to share? Why not drop them in the comments column? Love hearing from you dear readers.

Jane’s tried and tested top 10 productivity hacks…

Hey there lovely readers, how’s your year been thus far? Stupendous? Tremendous? Crazy? Lazy? My first half had us spinning wildly out of control before finally settling into a state of gentle chaos – triggering a determined focus on streamlining productivity and restoring work/life balance (roll on holidays!). And I bet I’m not alone.

Thing is, after years spent dedicated to finding ways to do more and be more productive, it’s no secret that we’re all now trying to do the opposite and regain precious time for ourselves.

One area I want to simplify is work. You too? Well you’ve come to the right place baby ‘cos I’ve been sleuthing and here’s my top 10 for snatching back precious moments. Hats off to you if you’re already implementing!

Jane’s top 10 time reducing productivity hacks:

1) Create email templates. If sending similar pitches or responses, creating a basic template for each will save you endless writing and editing. My team love mine so much, they’ve adopted them too.

2) Include talking points when sending meeting invites. Ask others joining the meeting to do the same and your agenda will be all set before entering the conference room.

3) Offer options. When asking someone for a meeting and before asking when they’re available, offer options for times that you are—then let them pick. Chances are one will work.

4) Keep a physical ‘to do’ list on your desk. Great for jotting down interrupting thoughts that can derail your focus. Check in at the end of end each day and prioritise for the next morn.

5) Stay off social media. No matter how tempting, way too easy to wander down that rabbit hole and fritter away hours while the work piles up.

6) Grab a daily snap shot of worldly activity. Use that social media catch up time to pop on over to LinkedIn instead for a quick learning session. While there, share an item or two aligned with your expertise. Double whammy – snap learning while promoting your personal brand!

7) Pop the personal mobile on Airplane Mode. Check in only during breaks (unless crucial to your job). Super for avoiding personal distractions.

8) Colour block your calendar. One colour signalling ‘I’m off the air for this period’ for deadline driven projects, another for critical ‘must do’s’ and items directly related fulfilling your role requirements, another for administration and so on. Stick to the same colours for viewing consistency! Works a treat, so much so, our entire company adopted this approach for quick productivity/billable hour reference.

9) Offer solutions. To cut down on back-and-forth emails, don’t send one without offering a solution to the question you’re proposing. Make it easier on everyone for your people will appreciate it.

10) Download Grammarly. If you’re not the best with punctuation or words—or even if you are and want to take editing out of the equation—this app is genius. You’re welcome!

This one’s a bonus – Say no! If you don’t have time to help with a project this week, don’t offer.

Any fantabulous hints to add to the list? Feel free to drop them into the comments box! Meanwhile, stay tuned for more!

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