Are You Ready For the Fall 100 Day Dash?

It’s that time of year again.  We’ve rounded the corner of Labor Day and soon will be on the homestretch to 2014. 

It’s a magical time of year where we are both busy, and at the same time, compelled to observe the conventions of holiday.  September and October for many of you will be the busiest months you’ve had since spring.  November is a wild card and December is just a tattered mess of potential workdays without interruption. 

I call this the Fall 100 Day Dash.  Between today and the end of the year, you have about 100 days to accomplish your annual goals.  As an effective person who doesn’t hit the snooze button of life or work, you want to achieve your goals to have a clean slate going into the next year. So here are my bits of advice: 

1. Identify What Is Made Of Rubber VS What Is Made Of Glass – Too often, we have several end-of-the-year goals.  Trying to attain all of them can lead to meeting none of them.  For example, if you are in sales, you likely have an annual goal. But at the same time, you are trying to close the IBM account as a goal as well.  The annual goal is likely made of glass, something that breaks if dropped.  The IBM account, so long as it’s not tied to your annual goal, may very well be able to bounce into Q1 2014.  If you can, identify the most brittle made-of-glass goal and focus solely on it. 

2. Think In Two Week Spurts – Don’t try and even out the year, plucking your way around the holiday season.  Define open two-week windows and cram your calendar with efforts towards the made-of-glass goal. During the partial weeks (they start piling up by the 3rd week of November), work on the made-of-rubber items and maintenance work.  Give yourself a breathing day if possible during those partial weeks, because you are JAMMING otherwise. 

3. Reserve the Last Two Weeks Of December For 2014 Planning – It’s too easy to get caught up in next-year-plans as early as November.  For too many, Halloween represents a turning point where we write off this year, and look forward to the next.  While that might be stock market thinking, you need all three effective weeks of November to get to the finish line. 

4. Forgive Yourself  When You Come Up Short – Goals are usually made up, arbitrarily picked to motivate us and give us something measurable to work towards.  If you’ve done your job prioritizing and sprinted as best you can…when the December holidays bring down the curtain on 2013, give yourself a break.  Like everyone does, you need the holiday season to refresh for the coming year. It’s a long cold winter until Easter, and tenacity comes from rest and reflection.  Don’t kill yourself over the Christmas-New Year’s week trying to close that last deal, finish that last project or turn in the last report.  In my experience, that’s weak sauce work and in too many cases it imposes on others’ attempts to enjoy their holiday season. 

What are your tricks to being productive at year’s end?  Share them in comments!