For many business owners, Q4 starts in a rush and ends in a rush. We blink and we’re suddenly in the holiday season, with a mile-long list of tasks that need to be completed by the end of the year. During this Q4 mad dash to get things done and enjoy the holiday season and new year celebrations, it’s important to find moments of calm. By finding small, daily practices we can ensure the last three months of the year won’t go by in a blur: Instead of watching Q4 like a movie on fast-forward where we can see the motion but can’t understand the dialogue, by creating moments of calm during this busy season, we will be present in the action.
Mornings are for you, not pings
Avoid waking up to your emails, apps, work messages and to-do lists. Create a morning routine in which you don’t have access to your digital workspace.
It might seem counterintuitive: if you want to get a jump on your day, shouldn’t you start off running with your task list in hand?
The research says no. By taking time for yourself in the morning to enjoy your cup of coffee, a morning walk, or a meditation session, you can decrease your stress levels and increase your productivity for the day ahead. More and more research is demonstrating the importance of mindfulness and meditation practices for all people—especially those in high-stress jobs or experiencing depression and/or anxiety.
Even five minutes of morning meditation can help increase your attention and focus as well as lift your mood [1, 2]. So instead of checking work communications as you are waking up and feeling overwhelmed by the tasks ahead, carve out time for yourself. Take a deep breath and enjoy your mornings. The rest of the day will thank you.
Pre-plan social events
What friends and relationships do you want to make sure you invest in before the end of the year? If you know that you want to get in some good team building time with your marketing crew, or you want to make sure you visit with your sister and nieces before the holidays, don’t leave it to chance and hope you will have a moment of downtime to connect with these important people. Instead, schedule it now. By getting these events on your calendar, you can stop worrying and rest assured that you are making these relationships a priority.
Plus, if you schedule your events for earlier in the season, while the weather is still enjoyable, you can plan an outdoor activity. This way, you will avoid any COVID uncertainty of meeting indoors  and you will have a chance to enjoy autumn activities you might otherwise miss like visiting a local pumpkin patch, u-pick apple orchard or the pop-up Oktoberfest beer garden.
End the workday (for real)
With more people working from home since the beginning of the pandemic, data shows that they are putting in longer hours . You can call it the living room creep: The workday is officially over, but you still find yourself on your laptop, on the couch, responding to work questions, or finishing up a project.
This blurring of the lines between home life and work-life is causing burnout and actually decreasing productivity for many people .
The solution? Close your computer and do the things of life. That might mean getting outside for a walk or bike ride, picking up your kid(s) from school or daycare, trying out a new curry recipe, or even raking the leaves in your front yard. Just like meditation in the morning can help increase your day’s productivity, creating boundaries between your work life and home life can have the same effect. You will be able to focus better on your work tasks if you give your personal life the same attention and dedication.
If the pull at the end of the workday to get one more project completed before you end your day feels too strong, remind yourself what it’s all really about. Write a shortlist (maybe just three things) of your personal priorities and tack it somewhere where you can see it during your workday. Perhaps on your list you will put: connecting with family/friends, physical and mental health, and volunteering for a meaningful cause. This visual reminder will be a cue for you to set aside your work for the day and go attend to your other priorities.
By adjusting our daily routines and making sure how we spend our time reflects our priorities, we can tackle Q4!
 The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation: Changes in Emotional States of Depression, Anxiety, and Stress by Istvan Schreiner and James P. Malcolm. Behaviour Change, 2008.
 Meditation training increases brain efficiency in an attention task by Elisa H. Kozasa, et. al. NeuroImage, 2012.
 Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic by Mayo Clinic, 2021.
 Home workers putting in more hours since Covid, research shows by Hilary Osborne. The Guardian, 2021.
 The 40-hour workweek isn’t working. Reducing it could help with productivity by Ruth Tam, NPR, 2021.