As we step into the last month of the year, it seems that all anyone can think and talk about is the fast-approaching holiday season. And while meeting up with family and friends, giving each other presents and spending some quality time together should be nothing less than a wonderful occasion, the logistical side of organizing a successful holiday might prove to be stressful for many.
As many adults already juggle a large number of responsibilities, including work projects, tending to their children, showing up at social events and maintaining a home, the additional stress of running around for presents, planning holiday travels and cooking for visiting family members can be quite anxiety-inducing to say the least. With so many tasks in mind, it is often one’s productivity and ability to focus at work that suffer the consequences of the overwhelming holiday season.
But even if you’re already knee-deep in planning Christmas and New Year’s Eve, there are quite a few tricks you can utilize to stay sane and keep your professional life intact in the process. Because, after all, there’s no use in sacrificing your career just because you’re having the in-laws over for Christmas dinner and you’ve been pinning hundreds of festive recipes on Pinterest since mid-November but still haven’t decided what to serve them!
Here are 10 things you can actively do to help you stay focused and productive during the hassle of the holidays:
Write up your to-do list and stick to it
The first thing you should do is get a clear idea of how the month of December in its entirety will look for you. So, at the beginning of the month, write down precisely all the assignments you need to complete at work, list all the presents you want to buy and include all your personal tasks as well, like running errands, paying the bills and attending a Christmas party.
Once you have a general outline of all the things you need to do, schedule them all in your calendar by spreading them out over the entire month, without overburdening any particular day. By sticking to your itinerary you can get things done faster and you won’t have to spend hours at work dreading the mountain of tasks ahead of you which you’re convinced you’ll not be able to handle.
Let your superiors in on your plans
If you’re interested in taking a few days off from work, don’t forget to let your boss know! Communicate to them if you’ll be missing a meeting because of your daughter’s school’s Christmas show, and definitely let them know about whether you can complete the projects you’ve been assigned in due time. Communication is the key to reducing stress at the workplace, and your superiors will certainly appreciate knowing your plans so they can assess their timetabling accordingly.
Start working upfront in time
Once you’re clear about your plans and are well aware that you need to complete a project by an assigned deadline, make sure you work upfront to complete your tasks. Avoid taking your work home with you—you have enough on your plate already—but rather make sure you work towards properly finishing your job at the workplace.
Set a social media ban
One thing that can definitely help with focusing on your deadline-driven tasks is to avoid accessing your social media accounts at all costs. December is the month when everyone is way too eager to share their pin/like-worthy decorations, obsolete cooking skills and talent for picture-perfect present packing on Facebook and Instagram. And with so many people decorating their Christmas trees prematurely, it’s easy to feel that you’re behind on your holiday to-do list, which can divert your attention from the work at hand. Our advice is to just ignore social media until you get your work assignments done and stick to your own tasks regardless of what your ‘friends’ say you should already have completed by now!
Prioritize and don’t hesitate to say no
With your holiday to-do list in mind, always remember to prioritize the truly important tasks and let go of the trivial challenges of the season. Is completing your assignment for that high-profile client important? Yes! Will anyone notice if you don’t fold your napkins in the form of a Christmas tree? Probably not. Which brings us to our next point:
Don’t overdo the holiday preparations
Perhaps it might not be the wisest move to start trying new recipes in the midst of the holiday season chaos, particularly if it might cause additional anxiety which could otherwise be avoided. Stick to your tried and tested methods instead and opt for surefire and fail-safe combinations, a rule you can apply to all aspects of the holiday preparations, from decorations to travel plans—just keep things simple! This way, you’ll be less inclined to get distracted at work, because you’ll have confidence in your skills and won’t stress about the new things you’ve challenged yourself to do after office hours.
Keep your health in mind
In the midst of so much multi-tasking, organizing and running around with the aim of getting things done, people often lose sight of their own well-being. Self-care is even more important during times of high stress and should not be overlooked. A quick yoga or kick-boxing session or a morning run before your children wake up can do wonders for your health, which in turn can result in increased productivity and a better mindset at the office.
Reflect on your year at work
To help you concentrate better on your work tasks, it might be insightful and even inspiring to look back at what you have managed to accomplish in your job this year. Getting a sense of your achievements and professional triumphs can give you just the boost you might need to finish all your proposed projects and keep focusing on your assignments amid the seasonal festivities.
Give yourself a break
Overly ambitious goals and expectations are definitely at their peak during the holiday season. That’s why you shouldn’t set yourself standards that are too high—you might end up feeling disappointed, which can negatively affect your work along with your overall happiness. So, if not everything goes according to plan, give yourself a break and strive to enjoy this special time of the year instead of sulking over minor mishaps which most likely no one apart from you is even going to notice.
Ask for help
If all else fails, don’t hesitate to ask for a helping hand! Your colleagues, bosses and superiors are all people, after all, and if you’re in need of help completing your tasks, then you should definitely ask for it instead of submitting something later than a deadline. The same goes for the holiday preparations—you don’t have to go it alone!