November 18, 2021

How To Stay Productive This Holiday Season

How To Stay Productive This Holiday Season - Featured Image

Let’s be honest, no matter what or how you celebrate the holidays, the last 6 weeks of the year are full of distractions. Between travel, changing work schedules, additional tasks, and having family and friends around, it can be difficult to stay focused on work. What can you do to stay productive when dealing with this particular set of distractions?  

Here are 6 things you can do to stay productive during the holiday season!

1. Organize your tasks 

With so many external distractions, it’s important to organize and prioritize what you actually need to focus on. Around this time of year, deadlines and priorities can shift. Therefore, your tasks may as well.  

Step one of organizing and prioritizing your tasks is figuring out all your upcoming tasks. Write a list of everything you think of that needs to be accomplished, no matter when that deadline is. Once you have an overview, it is easier to rank and prioritize tasks. What needs to be accomplished before the end of the year? Do you have any specific deadlines that need to be met?  

2. Eliminate non urgent tasks 

If you want to be efficient and productive this season, a cluttered to-do list is not going to help. Looking at your list of things to do, what can be eliminated for now? It’s not cutting the task completely, just moving it to after January first. Once you’ve decided it’s not a priority right now, don’t think about it. There are plenty of other things to consume mental energy. You have the task scheduled for the appropriate time, focus your attention on it then.  

3. Don’t multitask 

All the distractions that go along with this time of year are distraction enough, there is no reason to add to that by multitasking your work. Splitting mental energy between tasks is not efficient. With a divided focus, it is a lot easier to make costly mistakes. Mistakes are especially likely if you are multitasking and rushing through tasks. If you do make a mistake, redoing the task will use up valuable time that could be spent elsewhere. Therefore, if you have a lot of upcoming tasks, avoid the urge to multitask. Instead, figure out what tasks need to be accomplished when and focus on the task at hand.  

4. Focus on work at work  

This goes hand in hand with not multitasking. It is always difficult to leave home at home. And there is some unavoidable crossover. However, it is going to be very difficult to get any work done if you are spending work time thinking about home tasks. (Or even doing your holiday shopping or errands during work time. 😳 )  

In many ways, this boils down to scheduling. Take the time you need to accomplish personal errands and tasks. If you need to take a day off to do so, plan ahead for it. If you fill work time with personal tasks, it is going to make it harder in the run because you will have to finish your work tasks when you would rather be at home. Factor all your tasks into your to-do list and schedule accordingly.  

There are definitely circumstances where something comes up and thinking about the personal task is consuming. Sometimes in situations where you can’t stop yourself from mentally focusing on the task, it’s just better to take care of it. If you can, and it’s not going to take too much time, take a break from work and accomplish the task. When you come back to work, you will be able to focus better on work.  

5. Take breaks  

Even though it sounds counterproductive, taking breaks from work can help you focus on work. This time of year is great for taking some time off, eating delicious food, and spending time with loved ones. If that is what you want to do, take the time! It’s not going to do your productivity any favors if you are distracted by your own desire to be elsewhere.  

This is especially true if you are working from home. (As of the end of September 2021, 25 percent of full-time employees in the United States are still working remotely/from home at least part of the time.) If you are at home with loved ones around the holidays, it’s possible to take shorter breaks and avoid FOMO. It’s difficult to block distractions you want to be a part of. So set some time aside and enjoy all the good things about the season! Schedule break times if you are worried about not wanting to go back to work.  

25 percent of full time employees in the United States are still working remotely this holiday season

6. Celebrate your successes 

It’s human nature to focus, not all we have accomplished, but all we need to get done. That is especially true in time periods when we have a lot to do and less time than normal to accomplish it. So, don’t forget to reward yourself for all you have done. Allow yourself a moment of pride when you check things off your to-do list. At the end of the day write down all your successes and wins, no matter the size. Focusing on what you’ve done will help you to stay motivated and productive. It will also help you to keep a positive attitude!  

What struggles do you have in staying focused around this time of year? And what have you found to be helpful in combating the distractions?

About Skyler Schreck

Skyler is a Marketing Assistant at First Direct. Prior to First Direct, she worked as a freelance graphic designer. Content creator by day and content consumer by night, Skyler's hobbies include reading, snacking, and binge-watching all available shows.