Tips for Staying Focused During the Holidays

Do you feel like you’re forgetting something? Maybe it was an ingredient in the dish you just brought to the office Christmas party or you’re not sure you put the correct name on a gift at home. Or maybe it’s just the holiday season tapping on your shoulder, distracting you from the responsibilities of work.

This time of year is difficult for everyone. Whether it’s parties and family gatherings or the heartbreak of missing a loved one, it’s easy to get lost in thought throughout the day. It feels as though work is going on but the world around you is much louder. Hopefully, the few tasks below will help you reconnect with your work and focus on getting the job done.


Put Your Family and Friends on Pause

While you’re at work it’s important to focus on work. If Aunt Deborah calls to talk about plans for the weekend’s get together, send her to voicemail. Let her know your time at work is valuable and make sure she understands to respect that. Also, you need to respect your employer’s time and money. It’s difficult for you to perform well when you’re distracted, and accepting a call from Granny Peggy is irresponsible. Reserve time during your lunch for such calls, texts, and planning.

Do Not Multitask

If you’re a woman reading this, I’m sure you’ve told yourself you can handle a little multitasking. You’re possibly a mom, wife, student – you know how to flip between responsibilities. Unfortunately, science tells a different story. No matter what we tell ourselves, it takes 15 mins to refocus which results in a 40% decrease in work efficiency (Atchley, 2010). So, while you’re waiting for a meeting to start, don’t purchase that gift or reserve your dinner from Honey Baked Ham. Take that opportunity to send emails you’ve been putting off or prioritize the rest of your day.

Say No

Part of the holiday season is about giving and spending time with the ones we care about. It’s truly a great time to show gratitude, but make sure you’re not spreading yourself too thin. Not every party needs your attendance or requires you to bring a dish. If you already have a difficult time saying no, write out your plans ahead of time and list them in order of priority. If it’s not a priority, don’t go. Christmas is already stressful, why add more to it?

Exercise and Meditation

I know, I know…you’re waiting for January before you start exercising, but this is a great way to relieve stress, manage your time, and prepare for all the food that’s still to come. Exercising doesn’t always mean hardcore weights and cardio, but use this time for yoga, swimming, or any activity that keeps you calm and clears your mind. This is also a great opportunity for you to scout local gyms before your New Year’s Resolution begins.

Organize and Prioritize

A great way to stay focused is through eliminating distractions all together. To begin this, create a prioritized to-do list for each day. This will help you visualize what all you need to accomplish for the day. Next, remove your phone, personal email, second phone, pager, candy drawer, and whatever else will distract you from your list. While on your breaks throughout the day, you can check your phone and email to give your brain a break. 



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