The Christmas season has officially arrived! For me this means, Myer’s Christmas Windows, The Ivanhoe Boulevard Lights and Chadstone late night shopping. It also means an overwhelmingly packed schedule trying to fit in gift shopping, work parties, family get togethers.
It’s a time of year when your social schedule blows out, your to-do list is as long as your arm and your regular routine of gym and healthy eating gets turned on its head. Staying motivated and focused at work during this season is a struggle. It’s a time of year when we have many competing demands on our time and distractions are abundant.
Our brains struggle to uphold two contradictory truths, December is both a party season and a work season. Weeknights are filled with dinner, drinking and frivolity while your days are in the office, finishing a project before the Dec 25th deadline. Constantly switching your brain between work and party mode is confusing and most of us give up and allow December to be a write off as far as work productivity goes.
This doesn't have to be the case. With a little intentionality and planning, your output at work doesn't have to suffer in the month of December. Here's how....
Maintain Your Routine
Unfortunately our work productively isn’t the only thing that can get lost in the silly season. We often let other important things slide as well like our daily routines that keep our mind and body healthy. Over the Christmas period we are more likely to drink and eat more, and attend the gym less. We are also likely to get less sleep as we attend work functions and pull all nighters at Chadstone to fit in our last minute Christmas shopping.
Putting our self-care on the back burner during the most stressful time of year doesn’t make sense, but that’s what we do. And as the competing demands keep mounting it’s no wonder most of us spend our Christmas Day afternoons napping.
In order to avoid stress and maintain your work productivity in December, continue on with your self care strategies. Don’t give up your gym visit, don’t give in to the Christmas cake in the tea room, and don’t plan on pulling an all nighter to catch up on your to-do list. Keep your regular exercise routine and get plenty of sleep. By maintaining your self-care during at this time you'll finish your work year strong rather than exhausted and having to use your Christmas break to recover.
If it’s not a once in a year event, say no
December is that time of year when all of a sudden everyone wants to catch up for coffee. That friend that you haven’t seen in two months wants to have coffee on Saturday. Your mum wants you to come over and teach her how to download a podcast, your housemate all of a sudden wants to get the dishwasher fixed even though it’s been broken for six months.
In recent years I've implemented a rule for December, if it doesn’t happen once a year, it’s a no.
My logic is this. In December there are so many events taking place that only happen once a year. So make the most of these by saying no to the things that are unrelated to Christmas.
A highlight of the Christmas season is your work Christmas party. Even though you may not enjoy attending, it's a must. Put on a smile and refrain from getting embarrassingly drunk. This is your opportunity to network, talk to you boss in an informal setting, and show them there's more to you than your work. Show them you have a great personality, that you're fun and easy going. Relationships formed at work Christmas parties can benefit you in ways working hard for the whole year can't.
Along with my work Christmas party, here are some of my other must do's for December....
- Attend all family related gatherings
- Driving around the suburbs to look at Christmas lights (especially if you have little ones in your family)
- Making Christmas related crafts (gingerbread houses, Christmas cards, putting up a Christmas tree).
I’m sure you can add to this list because we all have our own family traditions and things we love about Christmas. Prioritising these things is essential. These are the things that make Christmas, well... Christmas.
Similar to any other time of year, the key to reducing stress levels and remaining productive at work is being organised. It’s possible that in December your workload has increased with many staff members away and domestic and international clients wanting their projects finished before the end of the year.
So how do you manage an increase to your personal and professional work load? The answer is, be super organised.
A strategy that I have found ridiculously effective is a to-do list. At the end of each day I write my to-do list for the following morning. It’s amazing how much time this saves me as I spend less time procrastinating, making coffee, chatting with my work colleague etc. I get to my desk and I see my to-do list staring up at me and I get to work. No excuses, no procrastination.
When tackling my to-list I adopt Brian Tracy’s ‘Eat That Frog’ strategy. I start with the most unpleasant, boring and mundane tasks and move onto the more enjoyable and easy tasks as the day goes on.
This is for two reasons. Firstly, it’s easy to push back unpleasant tasks and procrastinate on them, so I prefer to get them out of the way early so they are done. Secondly, as the day goes on I become more tired and attempting difficult or unpleasant tasks becomes harder.
This is a strategy I have been using for several years and have found it an absolute game changer when getting boring tasks done I otherwise would have pushed back until, 'I felt like doing it’. The problem is with unpleasant tasks is we never feel like doing them.
With these strategies I’m wishing you a joyful and productive December! Make the most of this opportunity to participate in those special events that only happen once a year.
If you would like help managing your workload and your mental well-being throughout the Christmas period, I invite you to have a free discovery session with me. I can help you get clear on what your December priorities are so you can have a happy and stress free Christmas. Simply click here to book a time.