The APQC Blog

Productivity Tips for the Holidays and the Rest of the Year

Even people who don't celebrate a holiday in December feel the effects of largely empty office buildings, holiday parties, extra traffic, and ever-expanding end-of-year task lists. Productivity is part of APQC's name, and we still experience lags during December. It can be difficult to stay focused with plenty of distractions piling up outside the confines of work.

When traditional efforts to improve productivity fall short, focus on the small things. Even if everyone is too distracted to complete big projects at the end of the year, most can concentrate long enough to complete small tasks. Break large goals down into microgoals to boost spirits and engagement levels in December.

Simplify tasks by addressing them in manageable pieces. For instance, APQC has disassembled process management into seven core tenets. By focusing on each tenet rather than process management as a whole, organizations can keep moving even when the going feels sluggish. (I am particularly happy because I managed to finish this collection of in-depth articles on the seven tenets before the end of the year—by focusing on one tenet and publication step at a time. Enjoy!)

The piecemeal approach is especially helpful when evaluating process management progress and achievement. At the end of the year, many organizations choose to focus on reflection and planning rather than productivity. It can be difficult to convey the progress any initiative has made without first looking at its parts. This article explains how an organization can assess its process management capabilities by breaking overall performance down into segments a human can actually comprehend: Evaluating Your Organization's Process Management Capabilities.

When planning, I love using tools like APQC's alignment worksheets:

Use these worksheets to break the things you want to improve, benchmark, or measure down into tiny, activity-sized pieces. The structure of a worksheet can get ideas flowing when it is otherwise difficult to focus.

With the end of the year approaching, we are all lamenting the sad mountains of work we didn't quite finish this year. But most of us can also revel in the happier mountains of projects that we did complete. Process management and improvement are huge tasks that organizations accomplish step by step. Break your end-of-year tasks down and do all the small pieces you can. Then, enjoy your vacation from work and come back in 2012 ready to conquer more of those little pieces, until you have a firm grasp of where you are and what you need to reach your process management and improvement goals.