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Do you mentally check out of all-things-work-related from November through January? Staying productive during the winter holidays can be a challenge, even for the most focused amongst us. But losing focus is usually not a good thing (unless you’ve explicitly planned to do nothing during this 3 month period—in which case, you go girrrrrrl!):

  • For one, many of us are the most busy at the end of the year when important things need to get done.
  • Secondly, being mentally absent during the latter part of the year could mean starting the New Year already behind. And lemme tell you, starting the new year behind on your goals is not a good feeling. In fact, it’s a great way to sabotage yourself and set yourself up for failure and discouragement from the jump.

The holidays are a time of family, fellowship, and fun. Work might be the last thing on your mind. So how can you come out of the holiday season on top?

Making a plan is the answer to 99.999999999% of challenges in life. Staying productive during the holidays is no different. Today we’ll customize a detailed plan of action for you so that you can stay productive and focused on your goals during the winter holidays while making time for family and fun!

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7 Strategies for Staying Productive during the Holidays

1. Write your plan down and take it with you…everywhere!

You know how sometimes you’re ready to get to do some work, but then a friend texts asking if you wanna go out to eat? And because you aren’t committed to your work, you say SURE!

Then you go to a boozy brunch, stay out 5.5 hours longer than you intended, and you didn’t get anything done. Plus you’re tired AF the next day and don’t get much done then either.

Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s the trickle-down effect of not sticking to a plan.

Writing your plan down can be the difference between following it and getting distracted.

2. Build in time for fun!

In your plan, you should absolutely build in time for fun! In fact, you should make note of major trips, holidays, parties, etc. in advance before doing anything and then work backwards to fill in the things that need to get done.

Depriving yourself of fun is only going to make it harder for you to focus when you need to. Be gracious to yourself during the holiday season. We all deserve some time off. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

3. Don’t take on too much extra stuff.

Figure out what really matters to you in the last 3 months of the year and only focus on those things. Now’s the time to cut the riffraff. Time (and mental capacity) is limited during the holiday season, so you only want to spend yours on things that are worth your attention.

Now isn’t the time to take on extra projects that you didn’t already plan for. You’ll only stretch yourself thin and produce crappy work.

4. Use a calendar and a schedule.

Once you create your plan, you want to add this plan to your calendar so that you always have it with you and are constantly being reminded of your goals. This might seem a little redundant but it’s helpful to have more reminders just in case you slip through the cracks.

5. Stick to your schedule.

Here’s the kicker: It doesn’t matter whether you make a plan if you don’t stick to it!

That’s why the #3 suggestion is to scrap the riffraff. Only plan to do things you really care about. Otherwise, you won’t be motivated to work on these projects when you could be stuffing your face with pound cake or getting drunk on egg nog with your aunties. 

If you find yourself unmotivated, check out these tips on getting things done even when you don’t feel like it.

6. Plan for next year.

I love the holiday season because I’m full of ideas I want to implement in the new year. When you have those jolts of inspiration, don’t let them pass! Jot them down and take time to create a plan for the next year.

It’s helpful to focus on one large goal, then really drill down into what you want to accomplish in the first 3 months of the new year.

7. Do the mindless tasks you’ve been putting off.

Some days, you may have the best intentions, but your mind is just. not. there. This is a good time to get mindless tasks that you’ve been putting off done.

Clean your office.

Gather receipts for quarterly or annual taxes.

Organize your emails (and automate your email organization so you don’t have to do it manually!)

Check out new software you’re interested in.

Be productive, but give your brain a break.