How to Get the After-the-Chagim Work Actually Done

ScreenHunter_90 Sep. 30 13.28So, after-the-chagim is here. Officially. As in NOW.

No getting away from it.

After two months of procrastination, your workload has caught up with you and there is nowhere to escape. With Chanuka two full months away, all excuses are gone.

For months you have been promising yourself that after the chagim, you will set up (or revamp) your website. You will start blogging. You will get new inventory. You will do real marketing and get more clients. You will lose weight (just kidding).

But you have just spent weeks cooking up dozens of extra-large meals, hosting extra-sensitive guests, and entertaining extra-rambunctious kids. Your body is out of commission with indigestion after a full month of super-not-good-for-you Jewish food. The amount of laundry in your hamper competes with the garbage dump outside the local clothing g’mach. And one look at the ruins that is your home after two weeks without school pushes work far, far, far from your mind.

Yet you can’t afford not to get back to work. A month without steady time to work (on the heels of vacation) means a mounting heap of routine tasks. Phone calls to return. Emails to send. A blog that is as stale as the leftovers of the yom tov challa. Invoices to collect for your empty bank account. Bills to pay.

Your mind is dizzy from all the things you need to do and you have no idea where to start.

But guilt is nagging:

You promised to shape up and _______________  after the chagim. After-the-chagim is now. Get going!

The five-month stretch between Simchat Torah and Purim is the most productive time of the year in Israel and in many Jewish communities. In most industries, this is when the deals are closed. And with long, undisturbed weeks of work, this is the time to take care of all those complex time-consuming projects you have been thinking of.

Getting your Work Done After the Chagim

Here are four tips that will help you get your life back to normal, conquer the heap of regular work, and launch all those new projects you had promised yourself. All this, while preserving your sanity.

  1. Cut yourself some slack

Have you ever wondered why we wait till the 7th of Cheshvan to start praying for rain when we really need it as soon as possible? The simple explanation we learned in school is that at the time of the Beit Mikdash it would take the pilgrims three weeks to make it back to Babylon, so now 2,000 years later we are still waiting for the last one of them to get home.

Talk about relevant Judaism! What does this historic tidbit have to do with us? Judaism is not an archeology dig and the halacha encapsulates an important point. Getting back to normal takes time! Yes it is after-the-chagim on your calendar, but you need time to unwind from the stress of cooking, baking, cleaning, and kid-quality-timing.

Get out your calendar and mark a new after-the-chagim date. Two weeks from today. In the meantime, give yourself time to transition. Put away the sukkah. Get the textbooks you forgot to buy. Return the phone calls you got during the holidays. Stock up your pantry. Conquer the laundry pile.

Clear your desk!

2. Take a day off for your sanity

Let’s face it, the holidays were stressful. Having to deal with all the family members, all the time, all at once can be difficult.

Before you plunge back into work, try to take some time off to recharge your batteries. If you can go away for a day or just a few hours, do it. If not, consider a staycation with a favorite book, a relaxing bath, a few hours out with friends, a visit at your favorite coffee place or whatever it is that you enjoy.

You may think you can’t afford the time or the money. But in truth you can’t afford NOT to do it. A few hours or a day of relaxation will put you in a completely different state of mind and you’ll get more done, more efficiently in the long run.

3. Plan, plan, plan

Marketing expert Dean Jackson has come up with a great system for getting things done. It starts with what he calls a “focus finder.”

  • Block off 50 minutes to create the mother of all to-do lists with EVERYTHING you want to get done in the short, medium, and long range. From a call to your grandmother to a new design for your business cards. Dropping off those suits at dry cleaners and writing that book you want. Big or small – it all goes on the list.
  • Usually, you will think that you are done within 10 minutes, but resist the urge to get up. Keep thinking and writing and a lot more will come up that you had forgotten. Whenever I do this, I easily come up with a list of 100 items.
  • With highlighters, color code tasks by how they are performed. For example, mark all phone calls green, all emails blue, all errands around the town pink, and so on.
  • In your calendar, schedule as many 1-hour blocks of time each week as you can. Use this time to knock off tasks by category (phone calls, emails, internet research, stuff to be done with my spouse, writing, etc).

4. Get help

If you have been procrastinating with some of your work until now, there is a good chance it is too complex or daunting to be done alone. Consider taking a course, working with a consultant, or outsourcing parts or all of it to someone else.

Investing the money in the short run will give you the time and the skills to do the real core work of your business.  This way you will not find yourself next August promising to get the same exact stuff done after-the-chagim.

How will you deal with your after-the-chagim workload?



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One Response to How to Get the After-the-Chagim Work Actually Done

  1. A. Faynberg says:

    I agree- it’s real hard getting back to routine but you know even if you don’t get through everything you planned on – it’s ok, as long as you’re not procrastinating and pushing things off as is written in Pirkei Avot : “(לא עליך המלאכה לגמור ולא אתה בן חורין להיבטל ממנה (פרק ב:כא

    I have a very diligent aunt who once told me that she prefers not to finish all her chores in one day so that she knows she has something on her schedule for the following day, and this gives her a sense of joy.

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