How To Handle The Madness of Q4 Without Losing It |The Everygirl

It seems Q4 is coming faster and faster every year. While I do my best to prepare ahead of time and anticipate the rush for the end of the year, I’m always kind of amazed that it’s already October.

If you haven’t prepared for the insane sprint in Q4, hope is not lost. Let’s talk about how you can prepare for the last three months of the year – from meeting your current goals to planning for the year ahead.

Put your personal affairs in order

I have to admit, whenever someone says, “Put your affairs in order,” I think, “What affairs? Am I supposed to have affairs?” What I mean by that is that we need to take the first month of the fourth quarter to arrange our personal schedules. The last three months of the year are always packed with year-end reports, year-end planning, and every single holiday celebration or event you can think of, so it’s time to get to grips with our personal calendars.

We know life is going to get a little hectic in November and December. So let’s plan ahead. Before planning an event, think about what you need as a foundation in your life. Just because the holidays and the 4th quarter are getting crowded doesn’t mean we can go without the self-care that got us this far.

Take an hour to plan for the next few months. Make sure your workouts, nightly routine, daily walks, 20 minutes of reading – whatever you do to stay healthy and sharp – are scheduled. Now more than ever, it’s time to prioritize you. While you’re at it, evaluate what works and what doesn’t. What worked for you last season may not work for you this season. Don’t be afraid to change.

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Once you’ve done that, it’s time to take a look at the personal events and commitments that lie ahead. Draw in everything that you know is going to show up—your annual Christmas party with the girls, your trip home to your family, or your holiday season. Put everything on your calendar so you don’t have to worry about it appearing out of nowhere later (trust me, there’ll be enough surprise events coming your way over the next few months!).

Source: Color Joy Stock

Take it to the office: Check your team’s schedule

Now that you have planned your personal needs and commitments for this quarter, let’s go to the office. While it may seem early to schedule holidays and out-of-office emails, let me tell you: it’s not.

Now it’s time to take a look at your calendar and the days you need to take off. Then it’s time to go to your internal team or manager and discuss everyone’s availability. Make sure the coverage is in order and everyone is on the same page when it comes to holiday planning (so you know you can actually enjoy the gingerbread and mulled wine if you have them!).

Now let’s go one step further. Once you have all your vacations planned, it’s time to include any outside companies or contacts you work with. The last thing you want is for your client to need something from you when the majority of your team is out of the office, or just email you about something essential while you’re on the slopes.

Connect with key people to communicate and plan company off days and vacation plans accordingly. As long as it is well planned and transparent, everyone involved will usually understand.

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Plan extra time for reporting

While compiling unexpected reports seems like an inevitable part of the workplace, there are things you can do to tone down year-end fire drills.

As the fourth quarter begins, think about the various quarterly and year-end reports that need to be produced. Start by compiling templates and pull data from last quarter or last year so that by the time you can compile this year’s information, you’re already one step ahead. Discuss with your boss or clients when their internal and external deadlines for year-end reports or presentations are, and make sure they know you’re close by to help (and that a heads-up for planning is always appreciated becomes!).

Anticipating what your boss or clients need or want is a simple key to success and how to excel in your career.

Here are some simple questions to ask yourself:

  • What reports are required?
  • What are your internal and external deadlines?
  • What template should reports be in?
  • What date ranges are you looking for?

Well, before you ask these questions, I want to challenge you to take it a step further by actually having ideas for the answers. For example, it’s better to propose a PowerPoint presentation to show the annual growth of your company’s social media accounts and ask for input than to simply ask, “Hey, what would you like for this report?”

Source: Color Joy Stock

And… Allow extra time for planning (yes, we do plan to plan)

In addition to considering what reporting is required, it is time to consider what planning needs to be done for the following year and especially the first quarter. What worked this year? What not? What goals must be achieved this year in order to surpass them? Now think about these questions and make plans for the new year.

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If you don’t know what your goals are, or don’t have the expectation to set them… ask! I would be shocked if your boss or client doesn’t appreciate it when you ask them about the goals of the organization so that your work can play a key role.

Once you’ve done that, break down your brainstorming and planning for the new year into these key steps:

  1. Review your goals and achievements from this year (if you don’t have them, review what was achieved and what resulted).
  2. Check what’s on the horizon for the next year in terms of company goals and industry shifts (What’s trending? What are competitors doing?).
  3. Start by planning what goals you need and want to achieve, and what initiatives will get you there (involve your boss in the conversation if needed!).
  4. Break it down into the first quarter. What can you do in January, February and March to move the needle and set the tone for the rest of the New Year?

All of this planning will now help you keep your limits and have fun during the fourth quarter!

Make time for the unexpected

Last but not least, you can plan and plan and plan, but that’s life…curve balls will get in your way. Your boss needs a report by EOD, your client needs something by Friday. If possible, try to anticipate things will come up and allow some time for when they do.

Q4 can be a stressful time with budgets to burn, planning to be in place, and year-end reports to be perfect (not to mention you’re probably also trying to buy ALL the perfect gifts!). Use these tools to get ahead of the game and make the next few months more joyful than overwhelming by getting ahead of the game today.

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