The Holiday season is upon us. With everyone talking about their vacation plans, discussing gift ideas, or preparing for the office Christmas party – it’s easy to fall out of the productivity wagon. All you want to do is just stay focused and get your work done, right? Here are some last minute productivity tips to use if you can’t seem to focus on your tasks.
Don’t Over schedule
Chances are your colleagues, business partners, and contractors have scheduled vacation during the Holiday season. It’s perfectly understandable, we all need time to travel back home or prepare for a big family reunion. Or we just want to have that long overdue Netflix binge-watch fiesta we’ve been waiting for.
If end of the year vacation is not in the cards for you, then you need to plan ahead and schedule your workload accordingly. Remember that due to the lack of time, or because of someone’s holiday obligations, you may not be able to finish that new, big project two days before Christmas. Accept that. And don’t put pressure on yourself and others. This will help you to stay focused on tasks at hand, eliminating stress concerning something you have no control over.
Help Your Colleagues While You’re Gone
At GetResponse, we have a neat, internal system which tells us who of our team has planned (or currently is on) holidays, who is off sick, and who has an urgent absence. At my previous company, we used a whiteboard to keep track of it all. Both these systems help us to be productive, and give us all the info we need to estimate realistically what can be done with limited resources.
Each person who leaves the office for a planned holiday, appoints someone to cover for them if anything work-related happens once we’re gone. If you’re planning a longer Holiday absence it’s a smart idea to find someone who can, at least partially, take over some of your responsibilities in an emergency situation.
If you want to stay on top of everything going around the office, schedule an hour during your holidays for checking your email, and answer only in urgent matters. Let your colleagues know when you’ll be available so they can reach you easily if needed, and won’t distract you while you’re off with the family.
Avoid Distractions But Be Smart About It
This one goes nicely with the previous tip. If you’re off and people are calling you while you just want to spend the time with the family, remember that technology is on your side. You don’t need to turn off your phone to enjoy your time:
I put my phone away for the holidays, so that I can focus on my family when the work is done. This might seem foreign or impossible to some people, but all of my calls go to Google Voicemail and are transcribed to email. I make it a practice to not take unscheduled phone calls, and all of my communication is in one place – my inbox. – says Frank Klesitz, Founder of Vyral Marketing social media and digital agency.
And if you’re going to have to work and don’t want to get overwhelmed with stuff, productivity 101 teaches us cut our big tasks into smaller, achievable chunks.
I use the Asana app and schedule out deadlines all year round. But during the holidays, I set hourly goals for myself to resist temptation to get distracted – says Kristen Cole, marketing specialist from P2Binvestor, crowdfunding platform for small business.
Listen To Some Music
It’s a well-known fact that listening to music decreases stress levels. And Holidays can easily bring you stressful situations. So before you reach your tipping point with all the gift shopping, family reunions, workload, and tasks at work – just listen to some music.
We’ve all heard the 2015 Holiday Season viral hit, goats singing Christmas songs playlist, right? Our Content Team is so guilty of playing it on repeat and spreading its cheer around the office.
I keep my Spotify playlists going throughout the day! Nothing helps me concentrate and focus more than the right background music – a little Enya in the mornings for added focus and Taylor Swift in the afternoons to combat the 2:30 PM feeling – says Heather Taylor, copywriter, Stampington & Company (@howveryheather)
If you’re into more traditional tunes, my personal favorite is The Christmas Lite radio station on TuneIn Radio app. It plays all the classics: Last Christmas, Jingle Bells Rock, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Winter Wonderland, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – you name it, it’s there! It helps me to stay focused (I actually listened to it while writing this article), and it brings just enough noise in the background so I don’t get distracted.
But for some people listening to songs with words you mumble under your nose may not do the trick. There is another way to go here:
I listen to an Electro-swing playlist (Parov Stelar) that is very up-tempo. The beat keeps me pumping through some of my more repetitive tasks and doesn’t have many words to distract me – says Kristen from P2Binvestor.
So whatever tunes you choose, make sure it’s right for you. And remember, your coworkers may not be in love with the music you like, so just in case – put on headphones. As an added bonus, they make you look extremely focused, like you cut yourself off from everything going around. This may also discourage people from interrupting what you’re doing, therefore you get more done!
And If Anything Else Fails Just Slow Down and Embrace The Extra Time
Let’s face it – sometimes focusing during the Holiday madness is just not possible. There are just too many things going on. And that’s perfectly alright. You need time to close your current projects and plan for the next year. Don’t fight it.
Listen to that podcast you’ve been saving since June. Read the book that’s been laying around collecting dust on your bedside table for weeks. It can only bring you good, seriously. Give yourself the gift of time.
My productivity hack is to use Holiday time to catch up on all things marketing–listen to the podcasts I have been saving, read the articles, take a few webinars, dig into books. It is incredibly motivating and puts me into overdrive with new ideas and energy going into the new year – says Becca Booth, Founder & Brand Warrior from Trout Marketing
Whatever you do during those last two weeks of 2015, don’t let distractions interrupt your good roll. We’d love to hear your Holiday productivity hacks. What helps you to not lose your cool? Add your tips in the comments below. Happy Holidays!