Staying Focused at Work this Holiday Season

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As we draw towards the end of the year and as the holiday season kicks in, you’re likely to find most of your friends or family asking you about the plans you have for this holiday away from your regular job. This gets your mind thinking about travelling, shopping, budgeting for holiday activities and probably even the weather that will be. It is however important to remember that at the end of the year, you are expected to continue with your regular job or take part in different seasonal initiatives.

This means that you have to remain focused on your obligations at work. Here are some relatively simple ways to maintain your focus this November and December.

Don’t Allow Yourself To Be Interrupted In Any Way

Being a holiday season, interruptions are bound to be very many. You’ll be tempted a lot to keep on checking your mail while in the office, to reply mails from maybe your travel companions or to check notifications of retail promotion and flash sales. Yes, it may take just a few minutes of your time, but did you know that recent studies conducted by Carnegie Mellon University have proven that such short regular spans of interruptions can significantly cause the decline of the quality of your work output? Well, if you didn’t know, there’s no cause for worry because the studies have also provided a viable solution for this.

Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson, who were part of the study, explained that the individuals who were fore-warned of a possible interruption that actually never happened at all, had a performance improvement of up to 43%, outperforming by far the individuals who were not warned of any possible interruptions. The former, used the expected interruption as a sort of deadline which enabled them to channel all their brain power into the task at hand remaining focused throughout the test study.

This means that, for you to be focused and in-turn be more productive, you have to do two things this holiday. The first being, accepting within yourself the fact that interruptions are bound to be there during this holiday. Secondly, and most importantly, promise yourself not to give into any of them. Set the time to work and time to take a break, then work fast but keenly while looking forward to your set break time only. Any break invitations you get midway should not derail you from focusing on your work.

Take Up Projects That Are Favorable For You

During the holiday season, you and most of your coworkers will be working different schedules. You may find that your shifts or schedules are slated for the days before major holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving. At such a time, most of your friends or coworkers will be out of reach. This may seem a very boring time, but if used wisely, can be fun. You could use this time to catch up on the very many mails you hadn’t read or replied. You can also take advantage of this time to focus on some self guided projects because you have all the time to work on them exhaustively.

Always remember that the holiday related activities and projects that you take up, such as socializing with coworkers at a party or retreats with colleagues, are a meaningful part of your work.

Use Your Off Hours Well

It is very important to separate work time from free time. It may seem like a good idea to cut into your free time in order to complete office tasks early, but this is what causes distractions and interruptions in future. This is because of your failure to use your off time to do things that you needed to do outside the office such as shopping, budgeting or planning. They come back to distract you during your office time.

Create a detailed and exhaustive in-office and out of office schedule, allotting adequate time for each of the tasks you need to do. This gives you inner confidence that you have time to do everything eliminating the need for working late or leaving work early to do personal things. The holiday-season-at-work is all about finding the best ways to cope with interruptions and distractions. This way, you’ll be starting off your new year with your head perfectly in the game.

Moiz Noorani

Moiz Noorani

Moiz is a member of the expert writer team for He has written more than 100 articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry on this site.

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