December 23

3 Key Strategies I’ve Used to Boost My Productivity During the Holidays


The holidays are notoriously unproductive times, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Follow these productivity hacks I’ve used to stay in the game this holiday season.

It’s inevitable. The holidays always bring a rush of activities as you try to balance your home and work life.

But the tension of holiday traditions at home while getting everything done at work are just the beginning.

Many education marketers also find it hard to get things done this month because of final exams and graduation.

You might not have this problem if you’ve got more staff and resources at your school.

But if you serve at a smaller private, organization, your non-marketing co-workers might not be able to collaborate with you on marketing projects in a timely fashion as all their extra time is being used for end of semester responsibilities.

There’s also the hard-to-measure reality of people just “clocking out” mentally.

Decembers are to the year what Fridays are to the week. Everyone’s productivity wanes as they look forward to their holiday vacation activities.

Another thing that can bog down productivity is that many of your colleagues might be working shorter hours as they prepare for holiday parties.

Getting the answers you need to move forward on projects is hard when you keep getting out-of-office replies.

But while you can’t fire on all cylinders at holiday time, you can still get a lot done if you use the right approaches.

Here are the 3 productivity strategies that I use to boost my productivity, even during the holidays.

#1. Pomodoro Technique

It’s difficult to keep your mind on work-related matters for long periods during the festive season.

That’s where the Pomodoro technique comes in to save the day.

The procedure uses a timer to break down work into segments, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

Here’s how it works:

    • Choose a task you’d like to get done.
    • Set a timer for 25 minutes (or whatever you decide).
    • Work on the task until the timer rings.
    • When the timer rings, stop.
    • Take a short 5 minute break (Grab a coffee, meditate or go for a short walk. Just make sure you do something not work related.)
    • After 4 sessions take a longer break of 20 or 30 minutes.
    • These short intense sessions allow you to do your best work.

Because the whole technique revolves around timing yourself as you work in short bursts, it’s helpful to have an app to track your progress.

So here are some handy Pomodoro apps to keep you focused throughout the day:

    • PomoDoneApp (Web, Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android) for using Pomodoro with a third-party task management app.
    • KanbanFlow (Web) for combining Kanban and Pomodoro.
    • Pomotodo (Web, Windows, macOS, Chrome, iOS, Android) for combining GTD® and Pomodoro.
    • Marinara Timer (Web) for teams looking to complete pomodoros together.
    • Be Focused (macOS, iOS) for simple task and time management on Apple devices.
    • Tomatoes (Web) for motivating you to complete pomodoros.
    • Engross (Android) for figuring out when you’re the most focused.
    • Timerdoro (Web) for people who need multiple timers.

#2. Getting Things Done (GTD)

Chaos is the number one enemy of productivity. GTD is all about ordering your workflow. Here’s the essence of the GTD process in 5 simple steps:

1.    Capture what has your attention.

Use a notepad or voice recorder to collect the personal or professional projects or to-do lists.

2.    Clarify and prioritize.

Take everything you listed in step 1, and decide if it’s actionable or not. Something is actionable if it involves a visible, physical action. If not, discard it. If it takes two minutes or less, do it now. If more, set the time when you’ll do it or delegate it.

3.    Organize your list.

Group tasks into related categories (e.g. emails to send, meetings to attend, errands to run, etc.) Have action reminders on the lists.

4.    Review and reflect regularly.

Critique your list weekly. Decide what to do next. Update the list and refocus.

5.    Do what’s required.

Take action using the system you’ve created.

At its core, the GTD theory is simple: you work better when you are relaxed. By getting rid of clutter and organizing your thoughts, you can be more productive.

Use the technique’s 4 Ds to zip through your to-do list:

    • Do it, if it’s actionable and takes less than 2 minutes.
    • Drop it, if it’s not actionable.
    • Delegate it, if it takes more than two minutes.
    • Defer it, if you can’t do it that very day.

#3. Automation

Would you like to grow your email list, follow up on leads, and share great content to your audience on social media while enjoying the holiday at the same time?

Well, you can! By automating your marketing.

So much of marketing involves doing certain tasks again and again. Such jobs can be done on auto-pilot through automation software.

Automate marketing tasks with tools like:

    • Buffer – schedule posts, analyze their performance, and manage all your social accounts in one place.
    • Hootsuite – schedule posts, manage multiple accounts, send targeted messages and monitor brand mentions.
    • CoSchedule – communicate in one place, integrate tools you use regularly and have a unified calendar for your team.
    • HubSpot CRM organize, track, and nurture your leads and customers with ease.
    • Sharpspring – powerful marketing automation that helps you increase the leads you send to the enrollment team
    • Salesforce get a unified view of every interaction with prospects, students, alumni, donors, and affiliates.
    • Marketo engage students based on their individual interests, and respond appropriately based on their stage in the student lifecycle.

Put these three principles into practice as you implement your automation strategy:

1. Tie everything to your goals.

Don’t just use the latest automation tactic without checking to see if it aligns with your goals first. Only do what makes sense for your enrollment marketing plan.

2. Avoid generic messages.

It’s easy to fall into the temptation of bombarding your list with general messages. This is the quickest way of losing audience interest and ending up in the spam folder. Segment your audience and send highly-targeted content to them.

3. Engage current students.

Your institution’s best evangelists are the current students and their parents.

Have specific campaigns targeted at them so as to keep them engaged.

While it’s true holiday cheer might keep you super busy in the coming weeks, your productivity levels don’t have to take a nosedive.

Try out these three productivity strategies to stay on top of your game and still have a good time with friends and family.

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