Time management: how to keep the momentum and beat the January blues

Workplace and wellbeing

20 January 2017

Are you feeling the post-Christmas slump? After the festivities, we all find getting down to business a bit of a challenge.

Some straightforward time-management tips can help you defeat the January blues and keep your business in the black.

Plan ahead

It’s a business truism that what gets scheduled gets done. Start each week by working out what needs to be achieved over the next five days. By coming up with a realistic plan and allocating time to each task, you’ve made the first move towards defeating the slump.

Do the most important jobs first, and make a contingency plan for unforeseen events. If you don't need to use this extra time you’ll have spare capacity at the end of the week, which is always a bonus.

Find a helping hand

An easily available tool such as Google Calendar can enable you to design a schedule that you can stick to – and it’ll send you gentle prompts.

However, some of us prefer our reminders to come from a colleague. If you’re not in a position to hire an employee or temp, try a virtual PA. A flexible, outsourced PA service can help you manage your schedule, whatever your budget.

Try time management

There are plenty of time-management techniques. The “Pomodoro” approach suggests that you work in 25-minute bursts followed by five-minute breaks. This technique, with periods of intensive concentration followed by a short pause, keeps you refreshed and is also a good way of learning how long certain jobs take.

It’s worth exploring different methods of task management and finding the technique that best suits you.

Avoid procrastination

There’s the general, not-in-the-mood sort of procrastination. This can often be remedied simply by shutting down social media – you can download apps that block sites such as Facebook between certain hours.

The other reason we procrastinate is if there’s a task we don’t want to do. It could be something we don’t enjoy (VAT returns for example!) or work that is out of our comfort zone. Plan these tasks for the start of your day when you’re most alert, and reward yourself with a more enjoyable job afterwards. Never leave your least favourite tasks until after lunch.

Beat the post-lunch slowdown

We all naturally feel sleepier and slower after lunch – hence the siesta in Spain. Avoid the afternoon slump by eating a light, fairly low-carb lunch, and getting fresh air or exercise before returning to your work station. It’s tempting to reach for a caffeine hit, but this won’t actually help. Drinking water and snacking on fruit and nuts will keep you awake and on the ball.

When possible, plan in the more enjoyable jobs for the afternoons – an active task will be more stimulating than a desk-based one if you’re prone to post-lunch lethargy.

A few simple time-management tricks and thoughtful scheduling can work wonders to keep your momentum going. There’s no need to feel flat after the festivities – you can return to work refreshed and embrace the New Year as a new start.