productive winter holidays

6 Surefire Ways To Stay Productive During the Winter Holidays

Christmas is just around the corner and the new year is quickly approaching as well. As we near the official start of the winter holiday season, it is only natural to start thinking more about presents, Christmas decoration and drinking eggnog with your family next to the fireplace and less about work and performance. After all, that is what holidays are all about, relaxation, fun and family.

However, once the holiday spirit wears off on Jan 1st and it is time to get back to business, what you did during your “down time” will have a dramatic effect on your productivity. You can either hit the ground running, or take a few days (or weeks) to catch up. You can either be a cheetah and accelerate from 0 to 60 mp/h in 3 seconds, or a bear waking up from long winter hibernation.

If cheetah sounds like a better choice here are the best practices to stay productive during the winter season:

Have Some Holiday Fun

Your performance is tightly linked with your happiness level. Happy people are 31% more productive so make sure you take the time to enjoy your holidays and recharge. Make a snowman, give some amazing presents to your friends and family, take crazy pictures, do whatever makes you happy. You deserve it.

One tip to enhance your fun: completely disconnect. During your fun hours, no email, no phone calls, no peeking at your stats, computer, cell phone, or other gadgets is allowed. Leave those at the house, go out and have the time of your life. Recharge your fun batteries and your productivity will soar when it is time to get back to business.

It Is All About Relaxation

Holidays give you the perfect opportunity to relax and catch up on your sleep. Most likely you have worked a little harder to try to finish things up before the big winter break so now is the time to regain your strength. Do whatever relaxes your brain and your body. Read a book (nothing self-help or business), watch a movie, take naps, go for a walk with your family or friends. You know how to relax, you don’t need any advice on that.

Schedule Small Work Breaks

While most people take some time off towards the end of the year, that does not mean that the world stops spinning. Your main goal should be to relax and have fun, but to avoid playing catch up with your goals, priorities and especially emails, when the season is over, schedule small work breaks.

Preferably in the morning, especially if you are an early riser, before the holiday cheer is in full motion, take 15 to 30 minutes to go though your emails, catch up on some work, or finish up a project. You shouldn’t be receiving nearly as many emails as during the regular season and you shouldn’t have that much work to do, but it is essential to keep up and keep things under control.

Decide before hand on how much time you want to spend in work related activities. Get a timer going and don’t go overtime. If you scheduled 20 minutes, stick to 20 minutes. When the buzzer rings, turn off the computer, leave the smart phone on vibrate and go back to happiness and relaxation.

A sure way to make sure you stop working is to get a friend, or a family member involved. Tell them what you are up to and give them the absolute power to do whatever it takes to stop you after your time is out. You might discover that whoever you give the power to might enjoy it a little too much when you see the grin on their face after they have unplugged your computer from the wall (an actual case) :)

Stay Active

To avoid the sluggish after-holiday feeling and lack of energy when you resume regular activities, stay active. Don’t spend your days sleeping just because you can. Find something that is relaxing, but also keeps your brain, your body, or ideally both, active. If the weather permits, go outside. If not, stay inside, but instead of endless mindless hours of watching TV, enjoy a board game with the family, or something even more engaging.

Try not to overeat as well. Enjoy your food, don’t over-think it, or count your calories, but don’t overdo it. Your body is used to regular amounts and types of food and overindulging on a regular basis forces your system to work overtime to process everything. This brings your energy and mood down which is fine for Christmas afternoon, or the morning of January 1st, but you don’t want it to carry over after that.

Stick To Your Habits

Try to stick to your productive habits as much as possible. If you follow a morning routine, try to follow it during the holidays as well. Small deviations are perfectly normal, but stick to whatever is already working for you. It takes about 30 days to change a habit so if you put them on pause for 10 days during the holiday season, you run the risk of “forgetting” them, or even worse, adopting new, unproductive ones.

Have Realistic Expectations

I’ve saved the best tip for last. The most productive thing you can do this season is to have realistic expectations.

Don’t expect to accomplish too much in terms of work. No matter what you do, you will have to catch up, even a little bit after the season is over. You will have a little more tasty food than what you imagined, you might even gain half a pound. You energy will go up and down at random times. Not all your habits and routines will be possible. None of these are bad in any way, they are just part of the holidays. As long as you come to terms with that,  you will be fine.

There is no bigger productivity killer than failed expectations so whatever you do this season, make sure you keep your expectations realistic.

Over To You Now

So here is the secret to staying productive during the holidays: have fun, enjoy yourself and spend time with your family. Recharging your happiness batteries will make you productive beyond belief. But if you want to guarantee your success, stay active, stick to your habits and schedule a few minutes to catch up on some work projects. Above all, know what to expect from the holiday season and keep it real.

Now get off the Internet, go have some eggnog and enjoy your holidays, you deserve it!