7 Tips to Stay Productive through the Holiday Season
Dmitry Davydov 23 December 2014
Holidays bring a general air of festivity and a whole list of traditions, from office parties to tree-trimming to gift exchanges, fundraisers, and community service opportunities. Then there are more vacation days than usual, plus, for many businesses, a huge rush in work orders and customer service needs. All the festivity can cause a lot of disruption to work getting done.
You don't want to be a Scrooge, but none of us can afford to be unproductive for weeks even for the holidays. Try these tips to stay festive and stay productive.
1. Stick to your daily routines as much as possible.
When our schedules change, we tend to react to those changes by changing our routines. Sometimes that's appropriate, but often those routines can help us find our place even in the midst of chaos. When you find your daily schedule getting crowded or interrupted, do your best to stick to your routines, even if you have to adjust them a bit. The beauty of a good routine is that it doesn't have to be time-dependent; even if you get a later start or an earlier cut-off time, simply go through your routine at an adjusted time. Shorten it, if needed, or eliminate parts of it, but stick to your basic structure. Keeping your routine in place will help you to get your mind in the work-groove and find your place of productivity.
2. Set a distinct focus and clear goals for the month.
You'll have to deal with the chaos and change in your schedule during the weeks around Christmas and New Year's. Plan to do so by giving yourself a very clear focus for work.
You can't do it all at anytime, and when there's upheaval due to holiday parties and travel plans it's even more important to be realistic. Make it easier on yourself to get right back to work by setting realistic and measurable goals. Be specific about what you want to accomplish during this month, so you know what to focus on during work time and can make the most of those hours.
3. Choose the holiday traditions you love; skip the rest.
An abundance of holiday traditions does not mean that you have to participate in all of them. Choose the traditions that you love, the ones that mean something to you. Let the rest go.
You can love the holidays and participate in some festivities, but there's no reason you have to participate in everything. By making deliberate choices about the traditions you will be part of, you help yourself to make the deliberate choice to focus on work during other times.
4. Have an alternative ready for invitations.
When you're approached during your work hours with an offer for some sort of holiday festivity, extra break, or treat, have a statement at the ready with an off-work alternative.
The idea isn't to avoid holiday fun, but to maintain productivity while also taking part in the holidays. So instead of agreeing to an in-office event that will eat up your work hours, make another offer. Say something like, "No thanks, I'm not going to take a break right now, but I'd love to do something after work."
5. Take care of yourself.
With all the extra food, treats, parties, and festive occasions, it's easy to let self-care slide. You'll exercise later, you tell yourself. You'll catch up on sleep later.
But failing to take care of your basic physical needs, while also expecting your body to handle all that extra fat and sugar and alcohol, is going to slow you down. Get your time in at the gym, and get that sleep you need. Drink plenty of water and eat well whenever you can. Your body will have more energy, your mind will be sharper, and you'll get more done.
6. Leave yourself clear directions.
Because the holiday season does offer more disruptions and distractions, it's important to leave yourself clear notes on what you're doing and where you need to pick up when you get back to work.
Leave yourself detailed notes on open projects. Insert all the important information in to your task list. Send yourself emails or voicemails with clear directions on wh ere to pick up work and to remind yourself of what the current priorities are. That sort of "breadcrumb trail" will make it simple and easy for you to jump right back in to work without missing a beat.
7. Party when it's party time.
Spend your work time on work, but when it's time to enjoy the holidays, do so without guilt. Our minds need a break from thinking about work, and we come back more productive after a break. Do your best to be effective and productive during work time, but once the holiday party or family festivity begins, join right in and enjoy the time.