I know that most of my advice on here is purely based around reading or writing, mainly because that is what I love to do; however I understand that during the holidays productivity as a whole greatly declines and we struggle to get everything done. There is one main reason for this; distraction.
The holidays were invented to be a distraction, to distract the masses of the troubles and struggles of winter. They took the bleakest part of the year, where food was running out and people were dying from the cold and illness, and created a celebration for people to focus on.
But majority of those reading this blog don’t live in those circumstances any more; we have homes to protect us from the weather, we have imported food (to the point of extreme waste), we have an abundance of everything. So why do we still find the holidays so distracting? Because they have grown out of control.
Commercialisation hit hard over the last decade, where holidays became about receiving and giving the best gifts, even if you cant afford it. And the worry and the stress of being able to do this majorly hits productivity. So here are my 5 tips on getting your focus back over the holidays:
- Write a Christmas list
I found that two years ago I was running around looking at all the gift items and just thinking ‘oooo so and so would love that’, not realising that I have already bought them three other gifts at home through the same thought process. Then, whilst wrapping presents, I would realise that I had completely overlooked a person or two and then panic buying set in.
Last year, I decided to write a Christmas list ahead of time. So in November I sat down and firstly wrote out everyone I wanted to give a gift to, and then jotted down an idea of what I would like to get them.
Mom- bottle of stuff, chocolates, new picture frame
Dad- new tops, new coat, bottle of stuff
Brother- Games, new x-box controller
2. Set holiday days
In the run up to the holidays, letting it leak in to every day is easy to do, however I found that last year if I dedicated a day or two to getting all my holiday things done then I was more productive (especially after because the stress just went). Last year I dedicated two days to present shopping (one after November pay day and one on the early December payday), I then dedicated a day to prepping the house (decorations, wrapping presents, clearing out areas needed for the holidays), and finally I dedicated a day to wrapping and doing final checks.
3. Get organised
Tip number one was all about organising your holiday life, however general organisation really boosts productivity. A planner is essential for me now, mainly because without it I forget everything I need to get done. I personally use the bullet journal system because some days I need a page and half for the amount of things I need to get done, and then some days I literally have ‘work 7 till 8:30’ and that’s all I plan on doing for the day.
Knowing when you have appointments, when you have deadlines, and when you have work to do, really helps you to prioritise your work. Now this isn’t an instant cure work method and it is something to instil into yourself slowly, but now is a great time to start and by the time the holidays roll around you will be noticing the benefits.
Productivity can only be measured against the end outcome. So with that in mind you need to decide how much work you want and need to get done over the holidays. I set two separate goals:
‘I want to get…’ this is the best outcome, everything I want to get done over the next few weeks.
‘I need to get…’ this is the bare minimum I can afford to get done over the next few weeks.
Having the two separate goals, for me, is essential. Because initially I work towards the ‘need’ goals but then on the really productive days I work towards the ‘want’ goals because I know I am making good progress.
Have a go over the next few weeks and see how setting two different goals helps you prioritise.
5. Understand that this is the holiday season
You will most likely have a boss who is just as distracted, of course there is still the expectation of getting the work done, but majority of work places lower the work load over the holidays because they know that people just don’t work as hard.
That of course, is not true for everywhere. For example, inside the prison service, the holiday period is the hardest because of self-harm and suicide, extreme drug misuse and general depression across the prison. Which means we deal with more incidents on a day to day basis.
Just knowing that your productivity may be lower will help you set realistic goals.
I hope you all have a wonderful holidays and that these tips help you get ahead over the holidays.