5 Ways to Improve Your Finance Team’s (And Your Own) Productivity During Bank Holiday Season  

We all love a good bank holiday. And with an Easter long weekend coming up, and two more bank holidays in the not so far distance, it’s virtually the spring version of the Christmas holiday silly season, without the bad jumpers.

Swings and roundabouts there may be, as we all know that means the same amount of work, but in less time. Cue a series of late nights in the run up to bank holiday weekends, even less time for strictly time optimised tasks, and a stack of emails from your international counterparts.

We all know productivity is key, even if it is a bit of a mirage; and as a leader of people, you’ll know enabling people to maintain a work like balance promotes fresh perspectives and reduces burnout. So what practical steps can we all take, or teach others to take, in moving towards the goal of delivering the same results, but in less time?

#1 Plan your week, inside your working week

Don’t factor in time to “get it done over the weekend.” Plan carefully, using slots in your calendar to make sure everything you agree to get done, can be done, within your working week. Be strict with yourself; keep yourself to task and to the time you have allocated. Even better, keep a diary and monitor how long each task actually took you – it’ll improve your time awareness no end.

#2 Always have a contingency plan

Block a few hours on Friday afternoon off. Sadly, not for an extended lunch, but for making sure you have “spill over” time. Blocking a couple of hours out to enable you to shift priorities to take on those urgent matters that always seem to pop up when you have a holiday on the cards, will stop your BAU work eating into your evening, or weekend time. And if you don’t need it, what excellent time to make a head start on planning the next week?

#3 Prioritise complex matters as early morning tasks

The thought of starting with the chewy issues before your second cup of coffee might sound off putting, but you’ll be much fresher in the morning than after your 3pm slump, where a 20-minute task could take you an hour. Complex administrative, financial and writing tasks always take more mental stamina than you anticipate – so get them done early in the day.

#4 Close down your email

We all know the biggest time-waster of them all is email. But how can we live without it? Try blocking off a couple of 30-minute slots in a day to attend to emails, and keep yourself honest. Also consider that it might be quicker to pick up the phone and call than write, re-write and check a two-paragraph email four times, before sending…and will likely have a better outcome.

#5 Work hard, play hard

You’ll speed up if you know you have to be somewhere at 7.30pm. Of course, this isn’t always practical, but getting into a habit of committing to social and fitness events instead of “seeing if you have finished” gives you mini-deadlines. And we all work better when well rested, satisfied with having at least some sort of work/life balance, and physically fitter.

Above all, shake yourself out of the culture of hours spent at work equals effort. We’re all socially programmed to work long hours, as it’s seen widely as a characteristic of being dedicated to your job. Your performance shouldn’t be measured by hours completed, it should be measured by results. And as we all know, some of the most effective executives maintain rigorous schedules that fastidiously allow for time off and time for fitness – so don’t let a bad culture ruin your efficiency!

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