Believe me, I get it. The holiday season is so wonderful in every way except when it comes to staying focused. Between the holiday parties, office gatherings, classroom gift exchanges it can be difficult to keep your focus and get everything on your to-do list completed before the New Year,
Here's the thing. Staying focused is so important, especially during this time of the year. It's ridiculously hard to start fresh in the New Year if you spent the holiday season putting off everything you needed to accomplish.
But I get it. Normal productivity strategies don't always work when you've got a social calendar that makes you feel like an A-list celebrity. So, I've put together my top strategies for navigating the holidays while staying focused.
🎄 Write Sh*t Down
How many times do we forget when we're supposed to bring, where we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to do during the holiday season? Answer: All the time. Add to that all of the deadlines we forget when we're too worried about the rest of the activities going on. That's why writing everything down is freaking essential. I need to write things down all the time, but when the holiday season rolls around, it's impossible for me to remember anything that isn't written down.
What helps me the most is when I write down everything I need to remember for the week on a piece of paper or sticky note that I'm going to look at every day, at least when it comes to work deadlines and dates. Personal things, I can add to my planners but there's something about keeping my dates and deadlines close by on a sticky note that helps me stay super focused on the tasks I still need to complete.
🎄 The 3/4 Rule
This might be my favorite tool to stay focused. In fact, I love it so much I'm planning to use it year-round. This tool is so great for helping me keep my sanity and my focus, which is huge for me. So here it is.
I divide my time up into 3 and 4. What the hell do I mean? I mean if I go out or spend time with friends and family 3 nights out of the week, I stay in 4 nights out of the week and vice versa. If I have 3 hours worth of meetings, I make sure to have at least 4 hours of time dedicated to deadlines and tasks. You get the idea.
As someone who needs time to myself and time with others, this has been such a great way for me to balance everything on my calendar and feel like I'm able to focus when I need to and unwind when I want to.
The 3/4 split works well for me, but you can really adjust it to whatever split works for you, the important thing is that you are consistent. Working on a project for 3 hours? Set a timer, turn do not disturb on and focus for 3 hours. Then give yourself permission to take a few hours that night to grab drinks or dinner with friends, watch tv or whatever you want to do to celebrate this time of year!
🎄 Do Not Disturb
I get it, it can be hard when friends are home, off work or free from any sort of responsibilities while you're trying to stay focused. People are texting and calling asking about holiday plans, people are stopping by your office or your table when you're studying for finals. Whatever the case, we can all agree that the constant interruptions aren't exactly helpful when it comes to trying to stay focused. That's why I've taken "Do not disturb" to a new level.
Sure, I've been using do not disturb on my phone for a while, but now do not disturb is a pretty constant setting during the holidays. Whenever I'm trying to stay focused on a series of tasks (especially at work) all of my electronics go on do not disturb. I'm talking phone, watch, computer, all of it. I also close my office door and leave a note on it saying "please do not disturb" or "busy".
I give myself a list of 3 tasks and then I check in on any calls, notes, emails, etc. I've missed. I find that completing a series of tasks and then going back to socializing or connecting with people is a great balance between getting work done and connecting with my coworkers.
This is also incredibly helpful if you have an event or something you want to attend but have to complete certain tasks before hand!
🎄 Be Fully Present
This one might sound a little silly but when I tell you it helps, believe me! Whenever I'm stressed or have a million deadlines to meet I find myself trying to multi-task in a big way. I'll try and answer phone calls and emails at the same time, I'll try to text people back while finishing up a project, you name it, and inevitably something goes wrong. Another thing is I find myself feeling anxious and stressed during festive times, parties or other fun events when I should be enjoying myself.
This year, I was determined to quit this habit and try to find a solution to have a more enjoyable and focused holiday year, so I started focusing on being present. No matter what I'm doing, whether it's a dinner with friends and family or answering an inbox full of emails, I focus only on being present in that specific moment.
What I've found is that allowing myself to be fully present and engaged in whatever I am actively doing has helped me focus more and that has lead to me being more productive and having a more enjoyable time outside of work because I'm not stressing myself out by trying to do too much at once.
🎄 Keep it Simple
This one seems obvious, but seriously, keep it simple. We spend so much time stressing about our schedules, our outfits, how to complete a task, etc. that we end up working ourselves up rather than just simply completing the tasks in front of me.
No one needs to confuse an already busy time of year by trying to multitask, complicate schedules and whatever else people do to make their lives more complicated. Instead, take these other tools and focus on keeping everything simple. You'd be amazed how much easier it is to focus once you do this.