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How to Get Work Done During the Holidays

Topics: Career Advice

In a few short days, Thanksgiving will come and go, and we’ll be in the heart of the winter holiday season. For most working people, that means more than just a flurry of buying gifts, booking travel, and sighing at the family budget — it also means trying to get stuff done around the office when seemingly no one else is working.

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Image Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr

And, then, of course, there’s the issue of motivation, which is hard to come by during the winter months. If you’re staring down your to-do list this morning, and your mind is already on Turkey Day and the holidays beyond, these tips might help:

  1. Do one thing at a time.

Multitasking is largely a myth. The people who seem to be good at it aren’t doing two things at once; they’re just very good at switching between tasks. However, for the most of us, the best way to get stuff done is to do one thing at a time.

Of course, work doesn’t exactly cooperate much of the time. You can’t tell your boss that you expect to no longer be interrupted with requests or your teammates that you’re not answering questions anymore. What you can do is draw a line around some of your time, and keep it for actual work. Do this on your calendar, if you have to, and keep your commitment to yourself and your goals the way you would a meeting with someone else.

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  1. Turn off your social media.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. — they’re stealing your work time, and you probably don’t even know it’s happening.

The best way to find out how much time you’re losing to social media is to keep a time-use diary for a day or a week, and add up how much of the day you’re losing to quick, five-minute dips into the social pool. You’ll be amazed at how much time you’re wasting — and that’s if no one’s wrong on the internet and in need of your help.

  1. Make a list of everything that needs to happen between now and the end of the year.

The short week before Thanksgiving is an odd one, because there’s no telling when your clients and colleagues are taking off for their holiday travels … or whether they’ll have their heads in the game while they’re in the office.

Make your peace with the fact that you’re not going to get much done this week, and use it to plan the rest of the next month-plus. Draw up a list of what needs to happen between now and 2017, and prioritize. Put the stuff that requires other people’s sign-off or input toward the top.

  1. Block off next week for the important stuff.

Now that you’ve got your list, you can hit the ground running when you get back from Thanksgiving. The first week of December might be as good as it gets, in terms of tracking people down for projects and approvals. Yes, you’re all technically working this month. No, you won’t be able to prove that by the time the calendar creeps closer to the end of the month. Make those calls now.

  1. Do some housekeeping.

On every to-do list, there are those items that keep getting pushed down the page. If they’re things you can tackle yourself, do so now. Failing that, now’s a good time to clean your desk, organize your inbox, make sure your files are where you need them. There’s always something to do, even if no one else seems to be doing anything. Take advantage of the lulls when you find them, and get on track.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you find that people disappear during the holidays, or is your workplace busier than ever? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.


Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Pete M
Pete M

Yup… Mutitasking is a dead topic and its all about completing one task effectively and then starting another and working on a priority basis. If anyone is still multitasking, please ask them to stop… 🙂 Making a list of tasks to be completed before the holiday would help have a great holiday time and breaking down the list of tasks based on the priority would help you complete these tasks effectively too. Using calendars to block time is a easy… Read more »

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