How to Stay Focused at Work During the Holiday Season Like a Champ

The holidays are a busy, distracted time. Whether your brain is going a mile a minute thinking of all of the shopping you have to get done, anxious to make it to the weekend, or fretting about hosting the next holiday bash, work is often the last thing on your mind. At the very least, you probably want to stop and catch your breath so that you can savor the season. Because of this, we often find ourselves feeling distracted and unmotivated at work.

However, few of us can afford to stop moving, even for the most wonderful time of the year. So how do you maintain your motivation during the holidays? How do you stay focused at work so that when you are off, you can fully enjoy and embrace the festivities around you?

These are my top tips on staying focused at work during the holidays.


5 Steps to Staying Focused During the Holidays

1) Kick the multitasking habit.

Multitasking might seem like the surefire way to get it all done in time for your much-anticipated holiday break, but it has been proven time and time again to be ineffective. In fact, trying to multitask can cost you up to 40% of your productivity. That’s because people can’t actually run multiple tasks in their brains at once as a computer can. We’re actually just switching tasks quickly, and this expends a lot of brain power and energy, resulting in errors and time lost.

Trying to multitask will get you behind on your work, which will ultimately result in stress during one of the most stressful times of the year. Instead of trying to get it all done at once, focus on completing one task at a time. This will result in better focus, better time management, and overall feelings of accomplishment.

2) Leave distractions behind.

When you want to get something done but you’re surrounded by string lights, Santa Clauses, offerings of cookies and holiday treats, it’s tough not to get distracted. Besides, you can really stand to squeeze in some holiday shopping during the workday. Right?

These are the distractions that will kill your productivity and your focus in the office—not the cookies from your coworker. You have to kill the temptation to take care of your outside holiday business while you’re in the office. That means you refrain from planning your holiday party, shopping for your mother, and worrying about what you have to leave off of your kid’s wish list.

These are important things. But while you’re working, they are distractions. You have to know how to leave them at the door. Just as you do during the rest of the year, unplug yourself from social media and remove the things that cause your mind to drift. It might be family photos. It might be your phone, or too many tabs open on your web browser. Be aware of what distracts you, and remove it so that you can focus more fully.

3) Make your list.

One of the things that hinders our ability to focus and remain productive during this busy season is an inability to prioritize and organize all that we have to do. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you will struggle to know where to begin and with what to start.

Start by making a list. Ask yourself what you really need to get done before you go on vacation. Then you can begin to work down this list and worry about other tasks when you return. This will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed with all there is to do.

4) Don’t overcommit.

Asked to be in a Christmas play? Volunteer in a soup kitchen? Attending a 5th-grade production of A Christmas Carol? What about all of the different Thanksgiving dinners, which you will no doubt be expected to bring a dish to? While this time of year is full of fun festivities, it can also be full of many commitments and extra stressors.

Don’t overcommit. It’s okay to say no. If you need to focus, the last thing you need is to worry about being the set designer for your child’s Thanksgiving play. Don’t feel like you have to take on everything you’re asked to do, or that you have to attend every function. It’s okay to stay home and focus on rest and family.

5) Prioritize your health.

As always, your health is critical to your productivity and your sanity during the season. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and exercising throughout the week. This will enable you to stay sharp and focused while you work and able to enjoy your time with friends and family more fully. If you’re finding yourself feeling fatigued, tired, and unfocused, take a step back. It’s okay to take a break, go to bed early, and take some time for yourself.

Staying focused at work when you would rather be doing something else is always a challenge. Mastering these strategies, however, will result in decreased stress, greater productivity, and the ability to fully embrace and enjoy the holiday time that you have.

What helps you stay focused during the holidays? Share your top tips in the comments.