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How to Get Stuff Done at Work During the Holiday Season


It’s getting closer and closer to the holidays, and you might feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions. Do you have presents to shop for? A house to decorate? Food to cook (and eat)? Friends and family to visit with? Oh yeah, and a job to do? Here are some tips for how to get it all done while still having a bit of holiday fun.

holiday slump

(Photo Credit: Carly & Art/Flickr)

1. Get Out of the Distraction Zone

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If your current scenery just reminds you of all those things you have to get done, change it up a bit. Those who work at home might find it easier to focus when you’re not surrounded by a house full of visiting relatives, or children hopped up on candy. Head to a coffee shop and enjoy some kind of holiday spiced latte. Take a walk to clear your head and walk the dog (who also probably wants to get away from those kids).

2. Create a Top-Down Checklist, and Revise It

Instead of filling your whiteboard with a list of things to do willy-nilly as they come into your head, try this approach: Revise your list several times before getting down to work. If you wake up in the middle of the night with something you forgot, write it down and add it to the list in the morning. Take a look at your list, then write a new one, with items in priority order. Take a step back (or maybe a quick break for breakfast), then come back again and revise it another time.

3. Simplify, man!

Now that you have your to-dos, you might see some doozies at the top of that list. So you don’t get overwhelmed and just flip that table over in a rage, try breaking down your biggest, most daunting task into parts (make a sub-list if that’s helpful).

4. Try a Countdown

Deadlines are what often drive us to actually complete a task. But sometimes we underestimate how long it will take to actually finish something. Look at your project deadline, then calculate how long the task will take (with a buffer). Make sure you stay on top of your day by watching the clock so you’re not running over one task into another.

This works when you’re thinking about the holidays, too. If you need to ship items, take a look at estimated shipping deadlines for different services like USPS or UPS to make sure you get everything in the mail on time. Need to order something from a catalog or website? Consider paying more for that wrapping service so you don’t have to waste time doing it yourself (and reshipping).

5. Keep the Holidays at Home

When you’re “off the clock,” use that time for celebrating and enjoying all that you’re looking forward to every holiday season. Know that when you’re home, you’ll be able to give your family and friends your full attention, not divide it between them and that spreadsheet you didn’t finish earlier. When you see your “after work time” as the reward and mental break it’s designed to be, you can plow through the work day with a laser-beam focus.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you stay motivated during the holidays? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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