Pumpkin spice syndrome. What is it?
It’s that warm, cozy feeling we get when we start pulling out our sweaters and thinking about family meals, decorating, holidays, gift-giving and all that happens this time of year.
Don’t get me wrong, I love it as much as you do.
But if the first part of your year wasn’t everything you hoped it would be and you still want to finish strong, now is not the time to put on holiday music and check out.
As a leader, this is the time to lean into it.
Chances are, your competition is slowing down and you have an opportunity to gain market share, close more transactions and set yourself up for a great Q4 and Q1.
Here’s how you can stave off pumpkin spice syndrome and finish the year strong.
Review Your Yearly Goals
Maybe you haven’t accomplished every goal you set at the beginning of this year. Maybe you’re not even close. But whatever you do, don’t abandon those plans in the fourth quarter.
Instead, leaders should intentionally review their yearly goals in the fourth quarter, says SnackNation.com CEO Sean Kelly.
This will allow you “to reassess what you can realistically accomplish and to set Q4 goals that make an impact and track back to your yearly goals,” Kelly says.
Start by looking for gaps between where you are and where you wanted to be by now, and consider what you need to do to bridge those gaps.
If you can achieve a few more goals this quarter, you’ll gain momentum to tackle even more in 2019.
Tidy Your To-Do List
With only a few weeks left in the year, now’s the time to get crystal clear on your most important activities.
Narrowing your focus can be a challenge if you’re also trying to wrap up a half-dozen minor projects by the end of the year.
Inc. Magazine Contributing Editor Jeff Haden recommends that you “unclutter your workday” by letting go of lesser tasks so that you can spend at least half your time on your highest-payoff activity.
While some of your other projects might not get done, you’ll see greater returns from focusing on your most important work.
Boost Your Productivity
Even with a clear set of goals and a tight to-do list, it’s easy to let the distractions of the holiday season creep in at work.
If you find yourself checking your email excessively, not prioritizing your biggest projects or spending a lot of time talking to coworkers or cruising the Internet, you could be wasting critical work time, says job search and social media consultant Miriam Salpeter.
She recommends tracking your time to see how many hours you can recover in a day. Apps like Toggl or RescueTime can help you take back your time and set better productivity habits as you head into the new year.
I find my clients typically have the most energy and momentum early in the day, so I encourage them to purposefully stack their mornings. That way, they can complete their highest-payoff activities before noon, without getting bogged down managing daily tasks and fighting fires.
This is an updated version of an earlier post, originally published Nov. 7, 2017