4 Festive Productivity Tips for the Holidays

The holiday season is traditionally host to a big drop in office productivity. But it doesn’t have to be. With some ingenuity and a little planning, you can turn the close of the fourth quarter into your most rewarding time of the year. Check out these productivity tips

Ah, the holiday season. That special time of year to plan family gatherings or vacations, cook delicious recipes, sing festive songs, shop for last-minute gifts ... and boost your office productivity?

Office productivity? Really?

Yes, you read that right. The time of year when you have so much going on that you can’t think straight is exactly when you’re primed to upgrade your productivity skills. The busiest people, after all, tend to get the most done. Here are four productivity tips that can help you stay focused and on track at the office throughout the holidays:

1. Have a game plan

Planning is the key to staying productive around the holidays. Take a few hours before the season hits to think about what you need to get done by the end of the year and how you’ll do it. Obviously, you won’t be able to list everything, but you should have a sense of the biggest or most pressing projects that will wind up on your plate. Now's a great time to do this because the office is typically quieter.

Having this plan will help your productivity in two ways. First, when you know exactly what you’ll be doing ahead of time, you can focus exclusively on each task when it’s time to work on it, instead of trying to prioritize on the fly or juggle multiple projects together. This not only gets the tasks done more quickly, it also helps ensure you don’t have to re-do them later. Second, if you include some foresight in your plan, you can get a good head start on the big projects coming up early next year. When everyone else comes back from the holidays scrambling to catch up, you’ll already be well underway.

2. Divide your time

Focus on work at work, and save holiday planning for after hours. As productivity tips go, this one may seem like a tall order. With so much to do, you may feel the need to take some of your work time to get shopping done (“I’ll just cruise by Amazon real quick …”) or simply keep your personal tasks from falling out of your head (“Who do I need to send Christmas cards to again?”).

Our advice: Resist. Mixing work and holiday prep is a productivity killer. Splitting your focus between both areas can result in neither one getting done to satisfaction. Yes, it’s hard. But your resolve will gradually build over time, and you’ll soon find the process becomes easier. The end result: You’ll get more done and feel less stressed.

3. Take advantage of peace and quiet

One reason office productivity tends to drop around the holidays is that there are simply fewer people around! Use this time to your advantage. With fewer interruptions, you may finally be able to get to those projects that have lived at the bottom of your to-do list for months, like researching a new office supplies vendor, putting together training documentation for new administrative hires or simply cleaning out your inbox.

4. Nurture yourself

No list of holiday productivity tips would be complete without this one: Recharge, reflect, refuel and relax. Whatever plans you make, be sure to build in time to do things that make you happy and release your stress. Try to take at least some time off work, even if you don’t travel anywhere. Spend time with loved ones. Treat yourself to something rewarding. If you can’t take time off, be sure to take your breaks at work — and get away from your desk when you do, so you’re not distracted by the projects waiting for you. When your head is clear and your body is relaxed, you’ll be able to work faster and smarter.

What productivity tips have worked for you around the holidays? Tell us about them in the comments section below.

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