The holidays are a festive time for family, friends, and fun, but can also bring distraction. Many of us have trouble staying focused at work on a regular day, and the holidays pose a special challenge for workplace productivity. In addition to typical day-to-day distractions we face, such as chatty co-workers and workplace drama, the holidays have the potential to bring all sorts of extra interruptions: parties, candies, co-workers taking more time off than usual, an infinite to-do list, and the persistent pull of knowing that soon you’ll have a day or two off.
Trying to stay focused at work when holiday cheer is buzzing around may seem like a losing battle, but there are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself on task.
- Get organized.
Even if you are not a list person, try to make a list for everything—including your professional and personal tasks. This includes making a schedule that includes work and personal events, a budget for gifts, your travel plans, and so on. Get everything set beforehand and you will see where you need to put your energy and time.
- Determine what’s important and what’s not.
Once you’ve gotten organized, prioritize your tasks to separate the “absolutely must get done” from “it would be nice if this happened.” With so much going on during the holidays, it can be easy to get bogged down with tasks that aren’t all that important. Decide which tasks are essential and don’t lose focus so you can wrap up the year in style.
- Try to finish the bulk of your work by the first half of the month.
As we get closer to the end of the year, it’s only natural that people will start getting into holiday spirit. Try to finish all of those critical tasks you identified during the first half of the month, and try to avoid scheduling important meetings in the last two weeks of the year.
- Request an informal feedback session.
Sometimes, giving and receiving feedback in an informal way has a more lasting impact that formal reviews. Take advantage of the light-hearted atmosphere to have a group feedback session. This will create stronger team bonding, encourage feedback from multiple sources, and provide some direction for the new year.
- Allow yourself to enjoy some holiday cheer.
Sometimes the best way to combat distraction, whether it be holiday related or not, is to give into it. The holidays are a festive time, and you should let yourself enjoy them. Trying to ignore them may only make you feel more distracted. Let yourself get in the spirit for set periods of time, and then make yourself go back to work. It may even be worth it to take a full day off to dedicate to holiday shopping and preparation. After, you’ll come back to work clear-headed and ready to be productive.