How to get stuff done before Christmas? Ditch carols for career planning

Don't fall into a canapé-induced stupor now when there's still three weeks to go 'til Christmas, says A Very Good Company founder Natalie Campbell.

by Natalie Campbell
Last Updated: 04 Mar 2015

Picture the scene. We’re partying somewhere cool - so cool they use vinyl. I’m on the decks and I shout out, ‘Sing along with me guys, it’s a December anthems mash-up courtesy of DJ Campbell-Fresh and the Very Good Crew’.

I let my tunes roll: ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas’, ‘Stay Another Day’. I finish with ‘It’s Not Over (Til’ It’s Over)’. The crowd stops dancing. The needle screeches of the record.

‘That’s not a Christmas song!’ everyone shouts.

But for me, December isn’t about shopping for things we didn’t need the week before, or rushing around trying to find some obscure toy for the children, nieces, nephews or godchildren. It’s a chance to reflect on the year I’ve had personally, what has happened in my career since January and what I want the next year to look like.

More importantly it’s about remembering there is still a whole month left to ‘get-shit-done’ before the New Year. If I still have gaps in my goal list, or the businesses I work with have targets that are yet to be achieved, I know there are things I can do in the last few weeks of the year to make sure 2015 starts on the right note. It’s not over til it’s over people. Sing it with me: ‘It’s-not-over-til-it’s-over’.

Think about it for a minute: it’s early December and the back-to-back late nights out and overindulgence make the days harder, so you take your foot off the pedal. It’s understandable, but why not change your tune? (Pun intended.)

Start going to the gym in the morning. Refuse to buy presents; instead give everyone money to invest or open a savings account for them. People will think you’re crazy as it’s not ‘normal’ at this time of year, but that’s the point. We’ve created a weird reality for ourselves about what should and shouldn’t happen at this time of year in return for starting off the year afresh.

No. Shake things up. Start that thing now. Finish off the to do list this week. Start eating well immediately. Start the business you’ve been dreaming about today. A lot can happen in three weeks. Go on, I dare you.

If you’re still thinking, ‘Just put the music on Nat, I want to dance,’ give me three more minutes to explain. I’ll give you one tip per minute.

1. Write a list with the title ‘Shit To Do’

List everything, big and small, that you’ve needed to do since forever - life admin, career development, meeting that friend, joining Tinder. Start from the bottom of the list and aim to do (or at least make a solid start on) three of those things a day until the list is clear. By the time the turkey is ready to go in the oven you’ll have started the ball rolling and got rid of the ‘there’s so much to do anxiety’, so you’ll really enjoy spending time with those you love.

2. Pretend you’re in a computer game, playing against yourself

You only get to the next level – 2015 - if you collect enough achievement points. The biggest prize, which also means you get the key to the land of freedom and glory, can be claimed if you slay the dragon of fear - i.e. do something that scares you. That thing you’ve always wanted to do, but  haven't been ready, willing or able to. If you add it back into your soon-to-be-discarded list of ‘resolutions’ list, you’ll only feel disappointed and the task will slip even further from your reach.

3. Give differently - give your time

Now this one is for the workaholics. You’ve probably got 8 to do lists already. Ignore those ones. Write a list of everyone you value, like, love and want to spend time catching up with, especially if you haven’t seen them since last Christmas. Don’t send them a lame Christmas or Seasons Greetings card. Call them (no texts or WhatsApps). Arrange to see them over the holiday period and ignore your phone and social media while you’re with them. That is the best gift you can give them and yourself.

DJ Campbell rant over. I’m going to switch the music back on now, and while you dance and think I’m going to repeat the Starship classic ‘It’s Not Over (Til It’s Over)’ and remix it with ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’.

What do you want? And what can you do before the year is out to make it happen? Tweet me @NatDCampbell and let me know.

Natalie Campbell is speaking at Management Today Live Edinburgh on February 4th 2015. Other speakers include Gleneagles Hotels chairman Peter Lederer and Aberdeen Asset Management deputy chief executive Andrew Laing. Check out the programme and book tickets here.

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