What actions can we take in the last quarter of this year that will set us up for a productive next year?
Productive things to do now that will kick off next year
We’ve now entered the final quarter of the year and we are less than three months away from the end of 2020. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about some things we can do in these last 3 months to make sure our year ends on a productive note and to prepare for next year.
1. Evaluate what you’ve learned from this most extraordinary year and what lessons you can take into the new year
Many have said that the events of this year have helped clarify what matters most to them, so how can you emphasize that in 2021? What has become more clear to you about what really matters?
What things have dropped off of your schedule this year? A lot of activities or events we would typically participate in have been postponed or completely canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thinking back over these events and activities, which ones are worthy of adding back into your schedule next year? Be intentional about which activities you add back in and make sure they bring value to your life.
For more ideas about using the last quarter of the year to look back and reflect over this year, check out TPW120 (Year-End Wrap-Up) and TPW170 (Taking Care of Future You).
2. Choose a goal for Q1 2021 that lights you up
Whether it’s a professional or personal goal, what is something you want to pursue in the coming year? Have you been thinking about something for a while, or is it a totally new idea that’s come about recently? Whatever this goal is, work towards accomplishing it during this last quarter.
Develop an action plan! Don’t wait until after the first of the year–start now. Think about what obstacles you might run into and what your plan is to overcome them. What are some resources you might need or courses you might need to take? Is there anyone you need to talk to, or a space you need to set up in your home? Whatever these things may be, develop your action plan so you can start pursuing the goal that excites you now, rather than waiting.
For more ideas on setting (and achieving) meaningful goals, check out episodes TPW4 and TPW285 (both about Setting Goals that Matter), TPW223 (Resolutions and Goals), TPW6 (Overcoming Obstacles to Achieving Our Goals), and TPW5 (A Step by Step Process for Setting Goals).
3. Clear out the clutter-physically, digitally, and mentally
Remove apps you haven’t used this year (or the past 6 months) from your devices. Unsubscribe from email newsletters, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc., that you haven’t read, watched, or listened to for the last 3-6 months.
Spend an hour each week going through your home and office removing things that don’t serve you. We’ve talked about this recently in TPW277 (10 Things to Declutter). I’ve always recommended having a box in your home just for donations, so you can place things in it here and there and take it to the donation center once it’s full. Also, use your trash can liberally for things that are broken, worn out, or stained, whether that be toys, clothing, or other clutter.
When it comes to your mental clutter, try starting a journaling habit, getting all your thoughts onto paper and evaluating the thoughts that do or do not serve you. Clearing out our mental clutter leaves room for creative thoughts and problem-solving.
4. Guard your heart
Limit your social media intake. This has been an incredibly stressful year. We’re worried about our health, finances, the world around us, etc, and all that stress and worry makes it hard to live in a meaningful and productive way. I encourage you to guard your heart, which perhaps means limiting your social media. Be thoughtful about when and how much you take in through social media, as it can contribute to your stress levels.
Focus on gratitude. We have talked about gratitude in the past (see, for example, TPW270 (Gratitude)). Studies have shown that people who have a regular gratitude practice are happier and more productive. If you find your mind sinking into a negative space, deliberately look for things to be grateful for and write those down and repeat them to yourself.
Choose forgiveness. There is so much anger out there right now, and lots of hurtful things being said, not only among strangers but among people who care about each other. However, we can choose to forgive people who do and say hurtful things to us. We can choose to let things go and not dwell, which is part of guarding your heart. Developing this discipline can help you end the year on a productive note.
For more thoughts on managing our minds, check out our Mindset Matters series: TPW108 (Productive Attitudes), TPW112 (Productive Beliefs), and our conversation with Natalie Eckdahl on Mindset Management in TPW225.
5. Take care of yourself
Physically–eat well, drink water, move your body, figure out how to get adequate sleep. When you take care of yourself, you’re better prepared to take care of those you care about.
Emotionally–make meaningful connections with other people, limit negative input, and balance it all out with inputs that encourage, uplift, and inspire you. This input may be a good conversation, a podcast, audiobook, or sacred texts that are meaningful to you.
Taking care of yourself is not a waste of time. It’s a necessary component of a productive life and if we are not physically, emotionally, and spiritually strong, we cannot present our best selves or accomplish the things that matter the most to us.
We have talked about this in several past episodes. For more thoughts on self-care, check out TPW160 (Self-Care Matters), TPW117 (Give Yourself a Break), and our conversation with Jodi Womack on Discernment and Self-Care in TPW184.
6. Nurture connections with other people
This year many of us have felt isolated due to COVID restrictions, working from home, angry differences of opinion about events and issues this year, etc. But as Brené Brown has told us, we are wired for connection. Even those of us who are introverts need connection with other people.
Find ways to interact with others, whether in person or virtually. Recently a listener named Julieta shared some thoughts with me via email about how she stays in touch with loved ones.
“I wanted to share with you and your listeners something that has worked for me in keeping in touch with family members with differing schedules and that is the Marco Polo app. . . . It’s been helpful for me since I live in a different time zone from many of my loved ones. My younger sister and many of our friends have started to become parents for the first time or have small children, so our schedules are not easy to line up. With the Marco Polo app, we leave videos for each other (similar to voicemail, but in a video format). On the rare occasion that we are using the app at the same time, the app makes us aware of each other’s presence and we can “live” record videos for each other or choose to move on to FaceTime or a phone call. Children seem to grow up so fast and I’m happy to see them every day and not feel like I’m missing out because of the distance, the pandemic, and difficulty in scheduling time to FaceTime or zoom chat. I don’t want to come across as an advertiser for Marco Polo, but just share that I have added this tool for keeping in touch over long distance and it has really made a difference. We share videos of us working on new recipes, workout updates, or other everyday things that we don’t necessarily want to make part of the larger internet world. The videos don’t disappear after you’ve viewed them unless you choose to delete them. I have strict boundaries, as with all other social media that I use and I use a pretty healthy dose of other platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Whatsapp, as well, so all of my notifications are turned off. We all know that if we really have an emergency, we are only a phone call or text message away.”
Practice radical kindness–even to those we live with, and even if we’ve started to get on each other’s nerves during times of quarantine and social distancing. This is a good time to practice kindness and bless others we live with.
Listen to understand rather than to refute–especially those we disagree with. Conversations can become particularly heated on social media, where we can’t see each other’s expressions or hear tones. Show others you care by being willing to listen to their point of view.
For more thoughts on relationships, check out TPW177 (Relationships & Productivity) and TPW289 (Friends, Mentors, and a Life that Matters).
What do you think?
What actions will you take to be sure this year ends on a productive note? Please share them in the comments section below or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or send me an email.
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