How To Be Productive During The Holiday Season
The holiday season can be a tricky time of year to navigate at work. Once Thanksgiving comes and goes, many workers are focused on decorating their homes, shopping for holiday gifts, planning or preparing to travel, or even being sidetracked by the multiple holiday lunches and parties companies often organize.
While there is a lot happening from late November until early January, it is important to stay on task at work and not let your productivity decline. With all the pitfalls we face during the holidays, make a plan to stay productive during the season.
Take Personal Time
While it might seem counter-intuitive to take time off as a means of staying productive over the holidays, scheduled time off may be exactly what you need. If you have many errands to run, schedule a personal day to get them all done instead of trying to rush out of work early every day.
If you find that your office quiets down over the winter holidays, take the opportunity to schedule personal leave when you will not be so overwhelmed coming back to the office.
The same goes for taking extended time off to spend with friends and family or if you expect to travel. Planning time off around the holidays is not much different from planning time off over the summer. You typically prepare items to hand off to co-workers and colleagues before you leave.
By following the same practice, you should feel comfortable that the work is being done even though you are on scheduled leave.
Though the days might be quieter and seem shorter (thanks daylight savings), don’t push off work just because you don’t want to do it. Keep on top of your emails and voicemails in addition to saying on track with your regular duties.
This time of year might be the right time to dust off an ongoing project or tackle administrative tasks you have been putting off. Coming out of the holidays on top of your workload, and possibly even ahead of the game, will be a good start to the new work year.
Stick To Your Schedule
It is easy to overcommit ourselves socially during the holiday season. While there is no reason to turn down lunch invites and after work cocktails, do your best to maintain a regular schedule.
Just because many staff members may be out, it does not mean you should come in late to work, take 2-hour lunches or leave early every day.
Continue to operate as if it is any other time of year and you avoid the dangers of developing bad habits.
Don’t Be Unprofessional
With so many staff members out of the office around the holidays, workplaces can take on a more casual atmosphere. Not to mention your work might be hosting a holiday party where certain beverages that are typically off limits are being offered.
Make sure the effects of your holiday celebrations aren’t following you into the office. Coming to work hungover or feeling sluggish from eating too many sugar cookies is sure to affect your productivity.
Professionalism also extends to your conduct while at work. Avoid the urge to spend the day shopping online (which can be difficult on Cyber Monday!).
If you absolutely need to check off your shopping list while at work, make sure you are doing so over lunch or an alternately schedule break time.
Prioritize Your Work
The holidays can be tricky if your work is often dependent on communication or collaboration with others. Before the season really kicks off, determine what your work priorities are and talk to those colleagues who you would require interaction with.
Schedule time to speak with them about their plans over the holiday season so you know when they are available. This will allow you to determine what your priorities are and allow you to continue handling your workload (mostly) uninterrupted.
Develop a list of “to-dos” and give yourself goals to meet each day or week to ensure you stay on task and productive. Don’t allow the chaos of the holiday season to distract you from your workload.
Depending on the industry you are in, the holidays can actually serve as a time to reset and catch up on things before the new calendar year starts. If this is the case for you, it’s even more important to stay productive and clear out old emails or catch up on your filing.
If you find yourself with downtime at work, don’t spend it browsing for the best prices online. Instead, spend it developing goals for yourself in the new year or helping another colleague get caught up.
Other ideas might be to take an online (work related) training or do some industry related research. Whether the holidays are a stressful time or a relaxing time, don’t let your work productivity suffer.