Eight ways to stay productive at work during the holiday season

Dec 19, 2016
Eight ways to stay productive at work during the holiday season

The holiday season has become a time of overabundance. There are too many parties, too many gifts, too much food and too many twinkling lights (read: shiny objects) to distract us.

Interestingly, in the midst of too much, work for communicators tends to slow down (unless you’re an event planner, then we just feel sorry for you).

The problem is that we have high expectations for everything we will accomplish during this slower work season, only to come back after too much festivity to discover that we didn’t do much of anything.

The work we do now will help set us up for a less stressful and more productive new year. So we need to maintain our productivity during the holiday season.

Here are some ways to stay productive when all you really want to do is chat with coworkers around the holiday cookie platter.

1. Clean and organize

Your desk, files and computer all tend to be cluttered by the end of the year.

Spend some time during the holiday lull cleaning and organizing your physical and digital systems. These low energy tasks tend to get lost during busier times, but completing them now will help set you up for success when you return after the new year. In short, you’ll thank yourself later if you clean and organize now.

2. Evaluate and reflect

The end of the year is the perfect time to evaluate your work-related successes and failures of the year and reflect on what you want to do differently in the new year. Consider using your work downtime to set your work-related goals for the upcoming year and create objectives for reaching them.

3. Plan and schedule

Once you know what you want to accomplish in the coming year, go ahead and get started.

Plan and schedule tasks that will move you toward accomplishing those goals. This will keep you from returning to work after the holidays uncertain about what to do next. Your next actions will already be planned and scheduled, automatically creating a more productive new year.

4. Work on big projects

We all have a big project or two that we’d really like to accomplish, but that keep getting lost in the busyness of our regular work schedule. Use this slower season to move forward on those big projects, maybe even completing them.

This will help you feel productive and fulfilled with how you used your holiday time.

5. Keep productive rituals

You have methods to maintaining your productivity during busy times, don’t give them up during the holidays.

For me this means continuing to schedule things on my calendar and make weekly and daily “to do” lists. Just knowing what you need to do and seeing it written down will help move you forward as usual.

6. Work in advance

Get ahead on any work-related tasks that you can do now while you’re less busy. Any work you do now will help alleviate some of the stress and pressure after the holidays. This is another one of those things that you’ll thank yourself for later.

7. Choose light focus

Everything about the holidays is distracting. A big part of this is that you have more personal and social obligations than normal. After all, those gifts aren’t going to buy and wrap themselves.

Unfortunately, this bustle bleeds into the workplace, making it difficult to focus there too. Consider using your holiday time for lots of minor, light focus tasks that need to be done. Organize your contacts. Make those phone calls you’ve been putting off. Process your inbox to zero. Doing a lot of little things that don’t require quite as much brain power will add up later.

8. Give yourself a break

Depending on your industry and the organization you work for, the holiday season may be a time when it makes sense to take some of your built up vacation or work some half days. Consider doing this while you can, if it makes sense in your workplace.

Regardless of all of this advice for staying productive during the holiday season, don’t forget to recognize the holidays. Spend some time sending cards to clients or having lunch with coworkers.

And go ahead and blow some time chatting around the holiday cookie platter or decorating the office. After all, the festivities of the season are what bring us together.

How do you plan to stay productive over the next few weeks?

Dr. Kenna Griffin (@profkrg) is an assistant professor of mass communications and director of student publications at Oklahoma City University. She is the author of the Prof KRG blog, which serves as a practical resource for student journalists and the host of the weekly #EditorTherapy Twitter chat for student media editors. She is a journalist, reader, shoe lover, wife, mother of two, and the spoiler of a couple of adorable dogs.

Photo via Pixabay

About the author

Journalism professor @okcu | Adviser to @MediaOCU | @collegemedia VP | #EditorTherapy host | Mega word nerd | Book lover | Okie | Dogs & flowers make me happy.

Signup for the Muck Rack Daily email

A digest of journalism, written by journalists, delivered to your inbox daily.