Three time investments that will pay out big next Christmas

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Source: Unsplash/Adam Winger.

Phew … you made it through the most wonderful (and busy) time of the year! 

With deliverables and events squeezed between lockdown and Christmas, your stress levels or output quality probably suffered at least a little. And while every year won’t be like 2021, I bet this wasn’t the first year you felt the pressure. It just seems to come with the season, right? 

Here’s a secret: it doesn’t have to. You can invest a little time now to save your future self a whole lot of time and stress.

Investing your time

A time investment is when you can spend a little time today to receive a bigger payoff in the future. This isn’t just about shifting a task forward (like spending two minutes laying out your clothes tonight to save two minutes tomorrow). Instead, an investment pays out more in the future than what you put in today (like spending 30 minutes automating that report to save yourself 20 minutes every month).  

The payoff isn’t just in time, either. Time investments can also improve output quality, build skills in yourself or others and reduce your stress. Plus time saved can then be re-invested into another high-value task.

Here are three quick time investments that you’ll be thrilled to cash in next year.

1. Events

With everyone racing to book end-of-year celebrations when lockdowns lifted, we didn’t have the luxury of researching lots of venues and activity options.  

Right now, these events are fresh in your mind. By next November, they will have faded, and the task will take much longer. 

So here’s what you should do today:

  • Take note of what worked and what didn’t from events you attended;
  • Ask around your network whether they’d recommend a venue or activity they experienced;
  • Shortlist any standout options;
  • If you can delegate the rest of the process, send your notes to them;
  • If not, you could send a quick email to enquire about packages and availability for 2022 now so you’re first in line; and
  • Set a reminder to pick up the task in September to check if anything’s stalled.

That’s it. You’ve spent just enough time to leverage your in-the-moment knowledge. Now as 2022 progresses, you can rest assured that the process is underway.

Time spent: ~ 30 mins.

Payoff: ~ 1.5 hours, plus lower stress levels and more informed outcome.

2. Gifts

You got through your office Kris Kringle and sent hampers for your suppliers and partners, with everything crossed that they’d arrive in time. But did you do the task justice?

Gifting is an important gesture of gratitude, and an opportunity to represent your business values to your community. It’s disappointing when time doesn’t allow the thought the task deserves.

Today, you remember what you gave who, and how it was received. So here’s what you do:

  • Create a table of gift recipients (was there anyone you missed?);
  • Add columns for what you gave them and any feedback you had;
  • Note any ideas about how you might do it differently next year; and
  • Set reminders to review it in six and nine months.

You’ve now set up a system to capture any new recipients or gift ideas that come to mind throughout 2022. This should reduce the chance that good ideas are forgotten, or people are missed.

Time spent: ~ 15 minutes.

Payoff: ~ one hour, plus more thoughtful gifts and less likelihood of forgetting someone or unintentionally regifting.

3. EOY tasks

Many of our November and December deliverables reoccur every year. Reports, thank yous, surveys, clean-ups. So how come it can feel like they sneak up on us?

You’ve just completed them all for 2021, so make the most of it.

  • Capture as many tasks as you can from the EOY rush;
  • Note the due dates and work backwards to create a mini-project plan;
  • Work out the date that that process needs to kick off in 2022 to allow you to get it done well;
  • Set a reminder or block time in your calendar at that date (include sufficient notes to help future-you remember what current-you knows); and
  • If other people are involved in the process, chat with them about it, or at least set yourself a follow-up reminder (particularly valuable if there are personnel changes before then). 

Time spent: ~ one hour.

Payoff: ~ two hours, plus less stress and higher productivity.

So if you find yourself with an unallocated hour as the new year kicks off, consider investing it to make Christmas 2022 a little lighter. 

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