Holidays are typically the time to enjoy the festivities and spend some quality time with your family and friends – but, sometimes you have to focus on your job instead, while everyone else is enjoying Christmas carols and long family Thanksgiving dinner.

Which usually makes even the easiest assignments much harder to do.

So, here are 6 tips on how to stay focused at work and not get distracted while the number of Holiday festivities is tipping the odds against you:

  • Take some time off before the holidays
  • Don’t procrastinate instead of working
  • Unwind with loved ones when you get home
  • Work on your priorities
  • Eliminate tasks you can
  • Ask loved ones to be understanding of your work obligations

Tip #1 – Take at least a few days off 🎿

Just because you have to work during the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t take some time off before the holidays.

If you have a couple of vacation days left, use them to do some early holiday shopping and spend at least some quality time with your family.

If there’s time, maybe you can even squeeze in a couple of days at a spa resort or a snowy mountain cabin.

This way, you’ll feel at least a little bit refreshed and recharged when you go back to the office, and thus more likely to focus at work.

Tip #2 – While at work, focus on work ⚙️

If you have to work during the holidays, make sure you actually take off some of your workloads during this time – don’t dabble with online shopping or procrastinate by browsing the web to find cute ideas for Easter decorations.

Make a to-do list, estimate the time it’ll take to finish each assignment, block time in your calendar, and start working.

For an extra effect, you can also track the time you spend working during the holidays and identify whether such a practice is productive for you at all – perhaps you’ll find that you’re actually wasting more time than saving it?

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Tip #3 – Don’t bring your work home ☃️

Working during the holidays sounds grim, but it never means you have to spend the entire day focused on work – so, work while at work, but join in on the festive activities when you get home.

Plan a late dinner with your family over Christmas, or make sure you take the last train to arrive at your friend’s house just in time to catch the 4th of July fireworks.

Knowing that you’ll be able to unwind in the evening after work will make it easier to focus on a task at hand in the morning.

Tip #4 – Don’t take on too much work 🤔

Saying “yes” to all requests while at work during the holidays only sets you up for failure –  given that you’re probably having trouble concentrating in the first place with all those office parties and the call of the holiday spirit.

So, be selective with what you take on – list all your work, and decide what are your most important and most urgent tasks. Then, start your workday with your most demanding challenge.

This way, you’ll ensure you finish your most difficult task early on, and clear your daily schedule for more pleasant tasks – or some fun time for exchanging Secret Santa presents.

Tip #5 – Eliminate some tasks from your schedule 📝

If you want to be efficient during the holidays, you’ll also need to eliminate tasks that are neither important or urgent enough to deserve your focus and attention at the moment.

This can be an outline for a project that’s due months from now, or a random email you’re only looking to answer out of politeness. By working on these tasks, you’ll just be wasting away those precious minutes you could be spending on finalizing that project that’s due tomorrow.

So, allocate extra time to tasks than need to be done as soon as possible – and leave the rest for after the holidays.

Tip #6 – Ask your loved ones to respect your work hours 🕐

Working while your loved ones are planning a lavish Christmas party or big Thanksgiving dinner means you’re bound to suffer some of the planning fever.

But, it’s hard to plan seating arrangements while you’re fixing critical bugs on your company’s app. Not that you’re family and friends will always understand this.

To make sure you get quality work done, you’ll need to explain it to them that you won’t be able to help them as much as you would like. Be clear on the times of day you won’t be able to answer their calls – and instruct them how to reach you if there’s an absolute emergency.

Also, be clear on what absolute emergencies mean – i.e. something you’re absolutely necessary to help them with.

A ruined turkey dinner with no way of securing another unless you pick up the catering on the way home? An emergency they can contact you for.

A great aunt you barely know having a row with your sister and refusing to come over for Christmas? They should leave you to focus on those app bugs.

Wrapping up…

Staying focused on work during the holidays only sounds impossible – but the right hacks can do wonders for your concentration. If you do all the aforementioned, you’ll ensure that you have both enough focus for your work and enough time to take in at least some of the holiday spirit.