4 Tips for Avoiding Year-End Mistakes

With the frenzy of the holidays upon us, the end of the year is naturally a busy time, causing added stress and interruptions to our normal routines and schedules. At the office, managing time, work and people becomes increasingly more difficult as priorities compete for your attention, leaving the potential for errors a greater possibility.

But, don’t despair! With some knowledge of human behavior, a lot of year-end mistakes and stress can be avoided. To help you navigate this season and have a productive end to 2013, here are some tips that can assist you in effectively managing your various responsibilities at work.

  1. Don’t put off for tomorrow (or next year) what you can do today. Toward the end of the month or year, some unappealing tasks or projects may have piled up or you may have waited until the last minute to tackle work that needs to get done. To help with your productivity, try the Premack Principle: make a list of your tasks and order them from least to most preferred. Start with the least preferred tasks, and as you move to the next thing on your list, you will find you have created a system of reinforcement since each activity is more enjoyable than the last.
  2. Plan ahead for the new year. As you reflect on the past year, begin to identify goals for 2014. Start with the big picture and then break down the behaviors needed to achieve your plan by setting many mini goals. This will get you off on the right foot as you start new projects or initiatives, and by setting smaller goals, you will begin to see progress and impact immediately.
  3. Use positive reinforcement appropriately. Just because it is a special time of year, don’t abandon your best practices for using positive reinforcement. Help ensure strong performance by continuing to provide reinforcement for desired behaviors. There is nothing wrong with being in the holiday spirit and providing a little more reinforcement, but make sure it is still contingent on behavior. Remember, it has to be earned, not just given!
  4. If you get a bonus. Be sure that you express your appreciation, not only to your supervisor but also to executive management as they are the ones who determine if there will be a bonus and how much. A little appreciation from the bottom to the top goes a long way in its ability to impact future behavior on the part of senior managers.

Have other tips for avoiding stress and end-of-year mistakes? Join the discussion and share them with me on Twitter.