When Christmas music has been playing since October and advent calendars have been sitting on shop shelves since November, it’s easy to forget how quickly Christmas actually comes around.

Staying productive over the holidays isn’t always easy: your brain is filled with mince pies and sherry and all the presents you need to buy.

There are strategies you can put in place that’ll ensure the time leading up to Christmas is well spent. If you’re in the event sector things get particularly busy so learning how to combat stress and stay efficient is a must.

From to-do lists to motivational playlists, Lilli Hender from OfficeGenie.co.uk has it covered; these eight tips should help make the most wonderful time of the year also one of the most productive.

Take advantage of your time

Depending on your sector, work life and home life can be extremely busy during the festive season. The retail and ecommerce industries can expect to be rushed off their feet until the end of January while B2B focussed businesses might expect to be quieter.

Whether you have a lot or a little time on your hands, you need to make it count. If you’re very busy, make sure any additional tasks you give yourself are high priority and can be completed in a short amount of time. If work is quiet, why not seize the opportunity to create or participate in an event – December’s The Business Show is a great example.

Plan for 2016

Looming deadlines understandably take priority but when it comes to good business, forward planning is key. Being able to look at the year ahead and answer pertinent what, when, and how questions is crucial to success. Many companies plan years in advance (don’t even attempt to find the end date in your iPhone calendar) and being one of them can’t hurt.

A great way to keep track, or make track, of your coming year is to use an event calendar. Many websites have blogs nowadays and keep editorial or content calendars but the idea can be expanded well beyond written content. It’s a great way to get to know key dates in the business year and capitalise on them.

Go with the flow

The concept of ‘flow’ in relation to productivity is the point at which you stop being aware of a task because you’re so submerged in it. You stop thinking about ‘getting the job done’ and you just do it. The state of flow is akin to meditation: it can’t come about by simply willing it but there are a number of things that will aid getting there.

Minimising the effect of external bothers can help get you in the zone: keep background noise to a minimum, your desk clear, and make sure your workplace is comfortable – particularly in terms of temperature at this time of year! Of all the distractions, we found smelly coworkers and smelly food to be the worst offenders, so sit near people that are heavy on the soap, not the garlic!

Have a daily routine

People like structure and repetition; we respond well to knowing what we’re doing. Why do you think people like advent calendars so much? Apart from the chocolate. Spontaneity definitely has its place but it won’t often help you in your working day. Give yourself set tasks for the day and timeframes in which to complete them.

Make sure your set yourself realistic expectations; this will help you feel like you’ve accomplished something in your day and set you up for the next day. Ticking everything off your daily to-do list might not match the feeling of satisfaction you get when you receive Christmas presents but it’s a close second.

Use productivity apps

As a to-do list fan, Evernote is the first app that springs to mind. It syncs all your notes between the offline and online app; it has helpful tick boxes and doesn’t feature needless gimmicks. Calendar apps can be very helpful and offer extras the one on your mobile or laptop are lacking. Doodle is a good example of a platform that can cut time and effort put into arranging meetings and work socials.

If you’re a keen social media user, it’s worth checking out apps that will improve efficiency and optimise your posts – Hootsuite is arguably the best. You can sit back and relax while your scheduled Christmas tweets roll out. It’s also a good idea to use apps that aim to improve your wellbeing all year round, such as those that remind you to take breaks from your computer screen or drink a decent amount of water.

Look after yourself

Wellbeing apps will help to keep a check on your physical and mental health, both of which need to be in good working order to function efficiently. Eating a balanced diet (limit the mince pies), exercising regularly (burn off the mince pies), and sleeping well will help you be more productive.

Aim to power through your day fuelled by healthy snacks and herbal tea rather than sugar rushes from chocolate or caffeine hits from coffee. Invest in ergonomic equipment – such as a chair with lumbar support, a wrist rest, or vertical mouse – because it literally looks after you as you work.

Me time

When the University of Warwick has found that happiness makes people around 12% more productive, it’s important to take note: your emotional wellbeing is just as important as your physical health. Taking time out to treat yourself will do wonders for your motivation levels.

Being able to look forward to a treat – like attending an exciting event, going for a meal, meeting your friends, engaging in a hobby – will really pick up your spirits. Striking a good work/life balance is important; remember, putting in more hours doesn’t necessarily translate to better work.

And finally…

Rather than panic about the stresses this time of year can bring, try to embrace all the great things about it. Just look at Father Christmas’ elves, they can be focussed and festive at the same time, and so can you.

You might struggle to adopt all of these strategies but picking up any one of them is sure to make a difference.

So don your Christmas jumper, blast out a cheesy playlist, and get baking, and eating (in moderation), your favourite festive treats.

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