7 Simple Tips for a Productive Holiday Season at Work

Tis the season…to be unproductive at work. Sure, holiday lunches, potlucks, Secret Santa, and other office festivities are fun, but they can really hinder getting work done. All the seasonal activities plus your personal obligations can easily lead to being overwhelmed. So, what to do? Blow off work until January or Scrooge your way out of the festivities? Instead, put your bah humbug away and enjoy the fun yet still get things done. Just follow these 7 tips to close out December in style.

Plan ahead. Your boss is taking a week off, as well as your coworker who’s on the project with you. Instead of finding your progress blocked by office vacations, plan ahead and set up time to get those signatures, PowerPoint slides or talking points before they are out of the office. It’ll save you all some stress.

Catch up. Not a creature was stirring… A near empty office can be a productivity blessing. Now is your chance to catch up on that backlog of emails or tasks that never get your attention. No meetings or distractions means you can read those business articles piling up on your desk, finally work through the ever-present to-do list, and maybe even tackle that project you’ve been avoiding. Seize the moment.

Purge, baby, purge. While you’re at it, why not take this time to clean out your desk, trash those files you no longer need and beat your inbox into submission. You’ll start the new year on a fresh foot and feel great knowing you’re all caught up.

Take a day. One obstacle to productivity is your personal to-do list. Shopping, cooking, hosting parties, mailing packages, oh and that darn bake sale you signed up for, can leave you distracted at work making it even harder to focus. Consider taking a day off to get a handle on things. You’ll clear your mind, reduce some holiday stress and be ready to work.

The Must Dos vs. the Nice to Dos. The holidays bring with it a lot of invites. Work, home, your spouse’s work, the kids’ school play, the church potluck. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and even worse… obligated. It can make you stressed, tired, and more than a little bitter, which all leads to being less productive at work. This is when it’s important to take a step back and prioritize what has to be done versus what would be nice to get done. Attend your kid’s third grade Christmas play- check. Attend the open house of your neighbor’s cousin’s daughter across town- negative. Save your sanity and your holiday spirit with a simple “thank you, but we won’t be able to make it”. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Focus. Probably the hardest thing to do during the season, but a crucial one. Many industries have year-end deadlines looming, and hey, somebody’s got to do it. If you can, change location to a quiet area. If you have an office, shut the door for an hour or two a day. No office door? Pop in some earbuds and Fa La La your way to getting that report finished. Remember- it’s all fun and games until a deadline is missed.

Enjoy the season. The holidays can be stressful, but they can also be a lot of fun. Don’t forget to enjoy this time of the year. Admire the lights on houses and buildings on your drive home, take time with family and friends and focus on what’s important, and for goodness sake, eat the darn cookies. You can diet in January.