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12 Productivity Hacks to Re-Engage Your Post-Holiday Brain

12 Productivity Hacks to Re-Engage Your Post-Holiday Brain

Buckle up. January is a tough month for everyone. Going back to work after the holidays can make you feel like Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 trying to re-enter Earth's atmosphere without being incinerated.

Accurate navigation got the shuttle through the heat shield. Likewise, coming up with a back-to-work strategy will help you re-engage with ease and hit the ground running. 

What if you could curb or even avoid the emotional back-to-work slog altogether? Here are a few productivity (and attitude) hacks to help you jump into work and kick the New Year off with confidence.

1. Review your wins. It may feel like a lifetime ago, but your big wins were just a few days or weeks ago. Refresh a disconnected perspective by revisiting your progress. Spend an hour or two going through emails, chats, and reviewing milestones from the past month. Give yourself a visual roadmap of where you’ve been and where you are going. Revisit your “why" — why a project is important, what it means to your team, your role in it, and specific ways it will benefit your customers. 

2. Edit your self-talk. Self-talk tells is the voice inside our head that tells you what to do and how to feel about events and situations and that voice is incredibly powerful. So pay close attention to your words and phrases. Instead of saying, “I have to get this presentation ready,” say, “I want to get this presentation ready so that we can close the deal and get the project started.” Another word swap, “I don't feel like picking up this project,” say “I’d like to begin this project so we can help our client solve this problem."

3. Ease back into it. Don’t pack your first few days with back-to-back meetings. Give yourself time to hit your normal stride. Prioritize your calendar and your tasks. Start with three manageable tasks and increase that daily. More importantly, don't beat yourself up if you can't get it all done. Use the 2-Minute Rule to knock out small tasks and beat procrastination (if it takes less than two minutes, then do it now). Also, consider working in 90-minute increments.

4. Change up your workspace. Studies show that changing up your workspace can instantly refresh your perspective and inspire motivation. Move your desk to the other side of the room or reorganize your desktop or filing system. Brighten up your workspace with a new picture, a burst of colorful decor, or a plant. Little changes can spark surprising results. 

5. Use two monitors. Dual-screen configurations are becoming increasingly common because this simple workflow tweak can immediately improve efficiency, communication, and comfort. Studies show that a second monitor is proven to increase productivity by 20 to 30%; broken down further, that’s 2.5 hours per workday, 10 hours per week, 40 hours per month, and 480 hours per year, per employee. 

Two screens allow you to:

  • Leave a chat box open while you work

  • Work on a document while looking at a variety of related documents

  • Switch between documents with ease while on a call or in a meeting

  • Look at visual comparisons side-by-side and give more accurate feedback

  • Drafting an email using source material 

  • Reduce time and improve the accuracy of data entry projects

  • Viewing large spreadsheets across two monitors to see a report in its entirety, among other things.

Your Maximum Productive State

6. Get moving. Productivity isn't determined by how much time you spend on a task. Instead, productivity is the result of how you prioritize and break up the task. Productivity requires regular breaks. You don’t have to break a sweat to gain the benefits of getting up and moving around. Multiple studies show that small bursts of movement or exercise throughout the day can lower stress levels, improve your health, and raise productivity instantly. To get more done, get moving more!

7. Block out digital distractions. Time-wasters such as checking social media, responding to every chat, and reading random articles feed procrastination. There are several free or low-cost tools (Freedom, StayFocusd, ColdTurkey) designed to block out digital distractions so you can stay focused on your to-do list. Also, mute your phone when working.

8. Avoid multitasking. You may envy people who can multitask, but psychologists say attempting to do several tasks at once actually reduces productivity. What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Try committing to and completing a single task before moving on to the next one.

9. Let go of perfection. In the early days of Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg realized that striving for perfection would permanently stall the launch of the social media platform. So he adopted the mantra "Done is Better than Perfect" and spray painted the saying on a wall. Should you approach every project with excellence? Yes! Will any of our work be perfect? Not likely. If you want to see immediate traction, steal from Zuckerberg’s playbook, and avoid stalling out in the perfection zone.

10. Detox from sugar. There’s a hidden nemesis to some of your best-laid plans, and it comes in an addictive substance called sugar. Multiple studies now show that sugar can impact your professional performance. Excess sugar can increase fatigue, stress, and anxiety. It can also slow down brain function, contribute to memory loss, and make it difficult to focus. As part of a successful back-to-work strategy, consider cutting down on sugar or a sugar detox.

11. Don’t fly solo. Is your goal to hit a specific sales number this quarter? Have a project completed by Q2? Consider finding an accountability or success partner to help you set goals and maintain your motivation in the New Year. A study by The American Society of Training and Development cites that having a specific accountability partner increases your chance of success to 95%.

12. Manage messages. The average person gets 121 emails per day. That's 121 obstacles to completing your workload. Create a schedule or alert for checking your email every 3-4 hours. For instance, rather than keep your email open all day and allow new mail alerts to distract you, only open your email program and respond to messages at 8 AM, 12 PM, and 4 PM. Automated a response such as, “I am currently checking email three times a day, so my response may be delayed. If this is urgent, please call or text.”

It’s never easy putting your game face on after the holidays. Emotionally and physically, it can be overwhelming — even paralyzing — to re-engage let alone be as productive. The important thing is to step into day one with a reentry plan so you can hit your stride and meet 2020 with equal parts purpose and passion.


The New Year will bring new demands. Optimizing your Kronos WFM platform is critical to getting the most out of your investment.

Contact the Improv team today and start the Optimization process. 

Get our Kronos Optimization Sheet


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