According to a recent survey, 88 percent of Americans think the winter holiday season is the most stressful time of year. Almost a whooping 60 percent would characterize it as chaotic. With so many time-sensitive commitments and activities on the average person’s calendar this season, it’s not hard to see where all that stress is coming from.
Six winter holiday season tips
Feeling stretched in multiple directions can take a toll on your attention span, energy levels, and other mental resources. When you’re in this state of overwhelm, it’s hard to focus and tune out other distractions. But all is not lost—there are a few simple, actionable strategies you can use to reclaim productivity, manage time efficiently, and still have enough left in the tank to enjoy the festivities.
Here’s how to pull off a productive winter holiday season.
Organize your main priorities
Not all tasks require your immediate attention. Some can be put off to create more room in your schedule for the projects that actually are urgent. Carve out a few minutes at the start of each day to get clear on your main priorities in order of their importance. This makes it easy for you to see what needs your attention so you can take efficient, decisive action, without feeling crunched for time or wasting effort on irrelevant tasks.
If you manage a team, it can be wise to outline November and December priorities for everyone. This can help team members prioritize their time based on overall department and company goals without having to guess. With everyone focused on clear goals for these two months, it can be easier to stay productive.
Stick to a consistent routine
The hectic seasonal pace can make life feel unpredictable. Whether you’re about to host out-of-town relatives, entertain a slew of party guests, cook an elaborate feast, or brave the shopping crowds, this time of year is full of activities outside the norm, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon all structure.
Minimize chaos by maintaining a consistent routine. This will help you achieve balance and, as Frontiers in Psychology reports, it can also promote goal orientation and increase performance outcomes.
The best routine for this time of year looks different for everyone. Figure out what’s most important to you and then build that into each week and day. Whether that’s working out, making time with family, or closing your laptop at 5 pm sharp each day, routine is important.
Minimize holiday distractions
There’s a lot taking up your attention this time of year, like social media posts of holiday parties and marketing promotions with the best price of the year! All of these distractions, however, keep you from focusing on getting your work done while at work. Such a chaos can put you behind on deadlines and ultimately add to your holiday stress.
Avoid distractions with these simple strategies:
- Keep your phone turned face down on your desk so you’re not tempted to check new notifications as they come in.
- Work in time blocks, allowing a few minutes after each one to check in on emails and plans with friends.
- Silence your phone during peak work hours so you don’t break your focus when it’s at its best.
As a side note, you can successfully use these hacks even outside the winter holiday season 😉
Don’t be hesitant to delegate
Rather than expecting yourself to handle all the items on your list with no outside help, delegate to those around you. This will offload some of the responsibilities from your shoulders while empowering others to put their own skills to use.
Another study from Frontiers in Psychology found that delegation results in more productivity, motivation, problem-solving, and coordination between functions. Pass off a few tasks by tapping a coworker to collaborate with you on a project or enlisting family members to pitch in around the house.
Complete one task at a time
Not only is multi-tasking not effective, it’s also utterly exhausting. Don’t force your brain to switch back and forth between a number of different activities and instead, concentrate on a single task until it’s complete.
Mute social media, email, and phone notifications, and turn off the TV or other distractions, so your attention won’t have to compete with any external stimuli. It might also help to set an alarm for however long you anticipate a project will take. This will serve as a reminder not to procrastinate or move on to any other task in that specific time frame.
Schedule time for rest
This might sound counterintuitive, but you will accomplish more when you set aside intentional time to unplug. Even just pausing for a short micro-break (10 minutes or less) after you finish a task can restore vigor, alertness, focus, and executive brain functions while helping to reduce your mental fatigue, the PLOS One Journal reports.
Here are a few ways to give yourself a little extra rest this holiday season:
- Turn off the TV an hour early and get into bed with a book.
- Set alarms for 10-minute breaks every hour throughout the day.
- Do a walking meditation at lunch so you can calm your mind and move your body.
You too can enjoy a productive winter holiday season
There’s no denying that this time of year can stretch even the most efficient, organized person to the limits of their ability to stay focused and efficient.
No matter how stressful or distracting it can be, it is possible to survive the hustle and bustle with productivity levels intact.
Use these strategies to get your work done while maintaining your sanity—and getting a little rest along the way.