by Lesley-Anne Longo
Published at 2023-12-05
The run-up to the holidays can be one of the busiest times of the year—you've got gifts to buy, parties to attend, loved ones to visit, decorating and wrapping to do, and maybe even some yummy baking and cooking to get done! With all of that on your to-do list, it can be hard to focus on work tasks as well. That's why we're sharing 8 tips to help you stay focused on your to-do lists (both work and otherwise) during the holiday season—because once you've checked everything off your list, you can focus on enjoying and celebrating without guilt or stress!
If you get distracted during the workday by thoughts of your holiday grocery list, or whether your dad will really like that gift you're planning on getting him, try your best to dismiss those thoughts and reschedule them for later in the day, after your work day is done. The next time one pops into your head, just remind yourself that you have time to deal with that item later.
There are so many things to remember during the holidays, plus if you have gifts to buy, an idea for the perfect present could come along at any moment. That's why it makes sense to keep a small pad of paper nearby at all times. You can write down things you're worried you might forget, whether it's the cookies you volunteered to bring to a holiday party, a work task, or a reminder to buy holiday cards. Knowing you have these worries and tasks written down in a safe space frees up your mind to concentrate on what's in front of you.
It can be tempting to feel the pressure to take on just one more end-of-year task at work, or to say yes to another holiday party. But when you're feeling the pressure from others, make sure you remind yourself that you want to enjoy your holiday season too, and overextending yourself is only going to make you stressed out. We all need time to decompress and relax, especially when there's so many things to balance on your plate! So, think carefully about how you want to dedicate your time. Sure, a work friend invited you to their holiday party, but remember, it's okay to thank them, politely say you can't make it, and spend that evening at home recharging instead.
We're still a couple of weeks out from the holiday crunch, so think about what tasks you can start working on right now that will ease the load later. Can you start gift shopping now? Choosing recipes for special treats, or holiday dinners? Do you have work tasks or projects that have to be in by the end of the year?
Personally, I know that writing all my Christmas cards takes me forever because I can't write for long periods of time, so I've learned to buy the cards early and start working on them early as well. (Plus, to save more time, I buy my cards from a company that pre-addresses the envelopes for you when you upload a spreadsheet of your recipients' addresses!) It can be tempting to put tasks off until tomorrow, then the next day, and then the next day, but trust me—it will be worth it when the holidays draw closer and you know you're on top of your to-do list.
I know, I know, it can be tempting to try to complete tasks simultaneously, but try to resist! Splitting your attention between multiple tasks means that no one thing is getting the benefit of your full focus, and that’s how mistakes and errors happen. So, if you have a long to-do list, make sure you schedule time to tick each item off that list by giving each task your full attention, one at a time. You’ll likely find that things move faster and more easily than they do when you try to multitask anyway!
The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but everyone knows that it can also be a very stressful time of year. There are just so many demands on your time, your mind, your wallet…
That’s why it’s extra important to put real effort into taking care of yourself, body and mind. Make sure you’re getting sustaining meals in and taking time to eat, make sure you’re getting enough sleep, stay hydrated, and try not to let those activities that you enjoy fall by the wayside. Try to think of activities that relax you, whether that’s working out or going for a run, doing your nails, reading, listening to music, etc., and make an effort to make time for those things. The holiday season is a wonderful time, but you won’t enjoy it if you’re feeling run-down and irritated! Do this for yourself, and make sure that you prioritize some time for self-care (even just 30 minutes!) when things are getting stressful.
As the end of the year draws near, you might find yourself looking back on the past 365 days and thinking about how the year panned out for you. Did you achieve the goals you set? Did you make any mistakes that you’d rather move past? Or are you already looking ahead to the upcoming year and dreaming about the things you want to achieve?
Either way, overthinking will slow you down. The best way to prevent yourself from thinking too much is to set a timeline for your tasks. A time limit will keep you focused on the task at hand. Before you begin a report or tackle a new project, determine how much time you want to spend working on it. Giving yourself a deadline can inspire you to focus on doing more and thinking less. Now, do these deadlines work out 100% of the time? Not exactly, but giving yourself a deadline will help keep you motivated and focused on completing the task. If you go over, well, you’ll cross that bridge when you come to it, but for now, plan things out and work toward that goal!
Five years from now, you won't remember what you wore to the holiday party, or whether or not your gift to your dad was the perfect present. Those things don't matter in the long term. You know what does? Making memories with loved ones and spending time together.
So, try to keep your priorities in line with your values this holiday season. Less stress about the holidays will help you stay better focused on what you need to get done, and you’ll be better able to enjoy the festive last few weeks of the year!
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