Everything gets a little busier during the holidays. There are parties to attend, things to bake, decorations to put up, and family to deal with lovingly enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s my most favorite time of the year, but it’s also really easy to let productivity fall to the wayside in lieu of more fun winter activities. Even if you’re feeling a bit like playing hooky in the snow, you want to make sure you head into the New Year as productive and motivated as possible. Below you’ll find tips that have allowed me to stay motivated during the holiday season. Of course, I’d love it if you’d share what’s worked for you.
1. Plan Ahead
Be realistic about your time. If you know you’re going to be traveling or skipping out early, schedule those as days off. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to work from the train the same you can from your office or that you’ll be able to find a quiet spot to focus when your house is filled with family. You can’t. Before things get too crazy, take a look at your calendar and decide when it’s realistic to schedule work time and when you should admit you’ll need the day off. If you work those days in now, you’ll be able to plan for them so you don’t fall behind.
2. Keep To Your Schedule
Do your best to stick to your regular work schedule as much as you can. While sometimes the holidays make it hard, you’ll find that if you’re getting into the office at the same time and keeping with that routine, you’ll have an easier time staying on task and getting things done. The more you play with your schedule and attempt to work from non-work locations, the more difficult it’s going to be to remain focused. Routines work for a reason – they keep us on the right path.
3. Create Rewards
I don’t know about you, but I’m a little competitive. Okay, I’m a lot competitive. To help me stay motivated and on target I like to create rewards for myself. For example, I’ll give myself an afternoon off if I’ve reached a certain point in my workload by X time. Or I’ll treat myself to pumpkin pie if I can knock out two great blog posts in an afternoon. The best idea for my waistline? Not in the least. But I’m not embarrassed to admit it works for me. Find what works for you – maybe it’s time off, maybe it’s your own guilty pleasure, or maybe it’s a new book (or outfit) you allow yourself to buy. Find your own motivators and use them to create rewards.
4. Alter Expectations
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get to the same amount of work over the next weeks that you normally do. To keep your sanity, you may need to cut back. Lighten your load by pinpointing what’s most important and what can be put off until after the New Year when your schedule goes back to normal. By being realistic about your expectations, you help avoid stressors before they have time to become stressors. With shortened weeks, company events and more nighttime activities, it’s okay to admit that you simply won’t have as much time as you usually done. Alter your expectations for the shortened weeks.
5. Find Sources That Motivate You
When I can’t find internal motivation, I look for external sources to power me through a lull. That may mean downloading one of the many small business owner podcasts, reading blog posts that inspire me or turning to a great business or social media book to get my creative juices flowing. Whatever the medium, taking a break from my day to hear about other people’s challenges and triumphs reminds me why I work so hard in my own business. It gives me the push I need to get back to it.
Those are five things that help me to stay motivated and stress free during the busy holiday season. What works for you?