The holidays are always a time of the year when managing professional schedules and staying productive at work can be difficult. During a pandemic, with social distancing measures in place and a large portion of the workforce working remotely, staying efficient and effective while on the job can feel that much more challenging.
Here are a few tips and tricks to equip yourself with to stay at the top of your professional game heading into the holiday season and beyond.
Create a universal schedule
Schedules are critical time management tools. It’s common to maintain separate work schedules and personal schedules. However, with so many people laboring on the homefront, and the lines between personal and professional life constantly blurring together, it’s wise to create a universal schedule that tracks all of your at-home activities. This is particularly helpful around the holidays.
Use an app like Google Calendar to create a master schedule of all of your responsibilities, personal commitments, vacation time, and so on. You can also share this with your loved ones to create a family schedule that everyone can access. Putting everything in one place can help you see when you have overlapping events. You’ll also be able to identify when you begin to overcrowd your calendar with too many responsibilities. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even take the scheduling concept one step further by trying an app like TSheets. This can give you detailed control over tracking your projects, keeping them under budget, and finishing them on schedule — regardless of the holiday bustle.
Prioritize your tasks
Prioritization is another key tool during the end of the year bustle. As you prepare to navigate the festive-yet-busy holiday season, gather all of your tasks and responsibilities into lists, and then organize them by priority.
This will enable you to focus on time-sensitive work. It can also help you identify what can wait until next year to accomplish and what responsibilities can be completely offloaded by delegating them to someone else.
Set multiple kinds of goals
Setting goals is a common productivity tool. Having goals to focus on can help you stay productive in practically every area of your work. As you prepare to enter the holiday season, consider the various kinds of goals that you should set. These can include:
- Daily goals: These are the significant though small tasks that you must accomplish every day.
- Weekly goals: These are the goals that you must accomplish over the next several days. They typically have some wiggle room, but must be addressed fairly soon.
- Monthly goals: These are the objectives that you know you need to get done before the end of the year.
- Yearly goals: These are, in effect, professional New Year’s resolutions that you can use to reorient yourself and get back on track once the holiday busyness slows down and normal life resumes.
By setting and categorizing your goals, you can provide multiple benchmarks to focus on and work towards whenever you’re on the clock during the last few weeks of the year.
Work-life balance is an essential part of remote work — especially when your personal life is as busy as it can get during the holidays. As you strive to schedule and prioritize your personal and professional activities, remember to maintain boundaries, as well.
For instance, set up a clear home office space where you can focus on work when you’re, you know, working. Make sure that everyone in your household knows that you shouldn’t be disturbed when you’re in your office.
In the same vein, don’t clean your house, take personal calls, or shop during work hours. Instead, wait until you’re done working to fully detach and engage in the last tip: unplugging.
Unplug and tend to your health
Finally, whenever you’re not working, really stop working. Don’t linger in “work mode.” Instead, fully unplug and consider what you can do to tend to your own physical and mental needs. A few basic unplugging self-care activities to consider include:
- Finding healthy, stress-reducing foods to eat after work.
- Spending some time unwinding with a good book.
- Calling a friend or spending time with your immediate family.
- Getting outside to clock some activity, boost your immunity, and generally cash in on the numerous scientifically-backed benefits the outdoors has to offer.
As you go about truly pursuing rest, you allow your mind, body, and emotions to reset and prepare for another busy day.
Finding time and staying productive during the holidays
It can be difficult to manage a full-time workload at any time of the year. Doing so during the holidays — while working remotely, no less — can feel practically impossible.
However, if you take the time to schedule and prioritize your tasks, set clear and attainable goals, maintain those work-life boundaries, and unplug when you’re not working, you’ll be better equipped to keep up amidst all of the fun-yet-stressful holiday hustle and bustle.
About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who has a particular interest in social justice, politics, education, healthcare, technology, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ HamiltonJori.
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