How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

The holiday season is notorious for stressing out small business owners who have more on their plates than they can handle during a normal day. Add in the holiday season that comes with increased challenges balancing family and work, year-end tax considerations, employee time off, holiday marketing tactics, planning gifts of appreciation and setting goals for the upcoming year. It’s no wonder many small business owners struggle during the last few months of the year.

There are ways to maximize your productivity during the holidays while working less. Here are a few to try.

Focus Only on the Biggest Priorities

I have a productivity process that revolves around the Top Three. This means that when I am especially busy and pressed for time, I pull the three biggest priorities off my (massive) to-do list and focus only on those Top Three.

I do nothing else — no checking email, no social media distractions, no answering phone calls — until those three tasks are complete.

If they require more than a couple of hours to finish, I set my timer to give myself an hour or two of uninterrupted work time, then I take a break before diving back in.

Get in the Zone

Are you a morning person who is most productive early in the morning, or is your productivity at its highest in the middle of the day when you can use momentum to get things done? Perhaps you’re a night owl who works best at night when ideas and concepts have had time to settle. I am one of those people who prefers to tackle my most important work in the wee hours of the day when my mind is fresh and everyone else is still asleep. Figure out what time of day is best of you and plan to tackle your Top Three tasks during that time.

Use Technology

There are endless apps and other tools out there that allow you to streamline your work, take your work with you on your mobile device, collaborate with your team and manage your projects from anywhere. Explore which apps offer the most value for your business and incorporate them in your day-to-day work process to get more out of your time.

Take Time Away

It may seem odd, but taking a break can actually be a great way to boost your productivity. Schedule extra time during the holidays to spend time with loved ones, or just enjoy some downtime. When you get back to work in a few hours, you may be surprised how motivated you are to get your work completed.

With these tips and other processes that work best for you, it is entirely possible to get more accomplished during the holiday season while taking more time off and enjoying much needed downtime. In fact, you just may find that you are able to create a new routine that boosts your productivity will minimal effort that you can carry into the new year.

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How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

Offer different ways to disconnect and recharge.

A recent survey of 2,000 full-time employees in the United States on the holiday season’s effect on productivity revealed that it’s not just money that keeps employees motivated and productive during the holidays; remote work opportunities and flexibility also play a pivotal role. The hurdle: Managers aren’t necessarily creating the right environment. To position your company for success in the new year, consider closing the office entirely for a few additional days during the holiday season. If it’s not possible for your business to close for additional days, then it’s even more important to offer workers alternative ways of disconnecting and recharging, such as greater scheduling flexibility. Be sure to give managers training on how to process PTO requests fairly. While managers can’t blindly let their entire team take the holidays off, they can do a better job of having open conversations with their employees around holiday PTO and job satisfaction.

Offer different ways to disconnect and recharge.

The holiday season is an especially challenging time for organizations that, at a minimum, seek to maintain status-quo levels of productivity. But as we all know, extra end-of-year obligations — from reviews to financial reporting to holiday festivities — eat into the final weeks of the year and often leave employees limping toward the finish line of a holiday break.

At West Monroe, we conducted a survey of 2,000 full-time employees in the United States to determine the holiday season’s effect on productivity. Our results reveal that it’s not just money that keeps employees motivated and productive during the holidays (defined as Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day); remote work opportunities and flexibility also play a pivotal role. If managers better understand this, they can create the right environments to make this time of year more successful.

Here’s what we found:

Managers don’t always make asking for time off easy.

Over half (51%) of employees said they’re uncomfortable asking their manager for time off during the holidays. The top reason, they say, is that their manager expects them to be available during their time off. One possible reason for that expectation is that the holidays are the busiest time of year for 25% of respondents.

The discomfort is particularly high within the banking sector, where nearly two-thirds (64%) of employees told us they’re uncomfortable asking for time off. In contrast, only half of employees working in the healthcare industry said they’re uncomfortable.

Remote work and office closures yield greater holiday productivity.

Over half of employees surveyed said their companies allow them to work remotely. Among this group, there’s no ambiguity about the efficacy of working remotely. The overwhelming majority — 91% — told us they’re just as productive or more productive when doing so. It’s no surprise, then, that when it comes to what employees need to be more productive during the holidays, the ability to work remotely came in a very close second to the predictable first: a bigger holiday bonus.

You and Your Team Series

Getting More Work Done

  • How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season
How to Boost Your Team’s Productivity
  • Rebecca Knight
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  • Ron Friedman
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  • Caroline Webb

In addition to remote working, we found that closing the office for more days during the holidays has a direct and positive impact on in-office productivity. Employees at offices that close additional days are significantly more likely to report higher productivity during the time that they’re actually in the office (42% compared to 17% in offices that don’t shut down outside of federal holidays).

As businesses navigate the holiday season, it’s important for leaders to consider how they can best position their organization for success in the new year with a focus on employee productivity and engagement. We have several recommendations, based on the survey data and our experience as workforce consultants in a tight job market:

  • Close the office for additional days beyond federal holidays, when feasible: Forty-five percent of employees say their workplace doesn’t close outside of the federal holidays. These companies may look at the cost of this action and decide it’s too steep — but consider the return on investment. Employees report increased satisfaction and productivity leading into the new year. And in a tight job market, that ROI is very real. We’ve tried this at our own company, and see the benefits of it year after year in terms of retention and productivity in Q1. If it’s not possible for your business to close for additional days during the season, then it’s even more important to offer workers alternative ways of disconnecting and recharging, such as greater scheduling flexibility.
  • Consider flexible scheduling — and recognition: During the holidays, 38% of employees want fewer in-office distractions so they don’t feel they have to put in overtime to get their work done. Others want to come in and leave early to have more holiday family time. For these workers, flexible scheduling options during the holidays can significantly drive productivity and morale. So can remote working: Imagine an employee who would otherwise request PTO to visit longer with family out of town, but through remote working can accomplish two days’ worth of work while still getting to enjoy family time in the evening.
  • Provide better training that equips managers to handle the holiday season: Our results highlight an opportunity for improved managerial training — training that can equip managers to better lead teams, manage unwanted distractions (like too many holiday events and requests), and process PTO requests fairly. As we highlighted in a previous study, there’s a lack of manager training in this area, with more than one-third of managers receiving no formal training from their employer. The holidays represent an opportunity to change that. While managers can’t blindly let their entire team take the holidays off, they can do a better job of having open conversations with their employees around holiday PTO and job satisfaction.

The holiday season doesn’t have to wreak havoc on employee productivity. If you create the right environment by listening to employees’ needs and equipping your managers to make good decisions, you’ll ultimately help your employees and the business get through this busy time of year successfully.

Ryan Ayers

It’s easy to get distracted during the holiday season. There are friends and family members to call, plans to make and things to buy.

Unfortunately, a whirlwind of holiday activity can lead to lost productivity in the workplace. Some companies even accept decreased productivity during the holidays as a part of doing business.

By setting the stage and creating the right environment, you can keep employees motivated and productive during the holidays.

Prepping for Holiday Revelry

Decision-makers should provide training that better equips managers to prepare for holiday workloads. This kind of training is absent from most workplaces.

As a result, most managers aren’t prepared for an increased workload during the holidays. Such training can better prepare managers to lead teams and eliminate unwanted distractions, such as disputes over paid time off, too many events and a barrage of special scheduling requests.

Managers obviously can’t grant holiday time off to everyone. However, they can better manage requests and conversations about the topic.

Studies show that more than half of surveyed employees are uncomfortable asking for time off during the holidays, according to the Harvard Business Review. Also, most employees believe that their managers expect them to remain available while they take time off. The same study shows that 25% of respondents believe that this is because the holidays are the busiest time of the year.

This sentiment is more pervasive in banking, where 64% of employees feel uncomfortable taking time off during the holidays. In the healthcare field, however, employee sentiment about the matter parallels overall industry averages at around 50%.

There are several ways managers can prepare for their employee’s time off requests. According to Amy Quarton, associate instructor for the online organizational leadership program at Maryville University, managers should establish clear performance expectations for employees and make sure they understand their responsibilities before the holiday season arrives.

“Work with employees to set a variety of personal development goals and performance goals for the team. Ensure they have the resources needed for success. Do they need a specific type of training? Is the break room stocked? Does equipment need to be fixed or replaced?

Managers should also make sure the holiday schedule gives everyone time to disconnect from work. Consider a more flexible schedule that allows employees to work remotely or choose the time they start and stop the workday,” Quarton suggests.

Avoiding Holiday Burnout

Burnout is a chronic health condition, according to the World Health Organization. For women in leadership positions, it’s essential to find a balance between personal time, without sacrificing opportunities to showcase work accomplishments. Female leaders can do so by planning their workflow for the holiday season.

According to Quarton, employees pay attention to the way their managers deal with stress.

“By being proactive about preventing burnout, managers can be a positive role model for their employees. This means taking care of the mind and the body with healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits. It also means doing something other than work, such as spending time with family and friends and enjoying a favorite hobby.”

Managers should encourage staff members to take time off. Many workers who do not take time off (but need it) end up calling in sick later merely because they’re burnt out.

It’s also vital to encourage creativity to help keep workers from fraying at the ends. In addition, it’s essential to give workers praise for a job well done to keep their spirits and their energy up.

It’s natural to want to feel appreciated. Employees who feel underappreciated are more likely to feel as though they’re working solely for a paycheck.

When this sentiment persists, employees grow disengaged. By giving workers deserved recognition, you can prevent burnout and workplace disengagement. Also, positive reinforcement and constructive feedback can help employees understand what they need to do to advance their careers.

Strategizing for the Holiday Workload

Most often, you’ll have quite the workload when returning from the holiday break. Accordingly, it makes sense to prepare for your return.

You can begin by pinpointing high-priority tasks that you must complete before leaving for the holidays. Don’t worry if you can’t complete everything. Make a list of the projects that you can complete, note what you did complete and how you will finish the task when you return. If it’s a time-sensitive matter, discuss the situation with your superiors.

Before you leave, set an away message for your voicemail and email. It can also be helpful to jot down some thorough notes about the status of projects and any ideas you have. It’s likely they won’t be as fresh in your mind when you return, so it’ll be helpful to have some notes written down to jog your memory.

Also, don’t schedule anything for the day that you’ll return to work. You should also give your office or workspace an extra special cleaning on your last day of work before the holiday.

By taking these steps, you’ll feel more confident and able to enjoy your holiday while you’re away. Also, when you return, you can come back to a clean office and a fresh start. You might even be able to approach your tasks with a new plan for productivity after taking that time off to refresh.

Just before you return, evaluate your to-do list and make sure that all tasks are clear and specific. Also, break large projects down into smaller tasks so that you don’t become overwhelmed.

The holidays are an excellent opportunity to give staff members a much-needed break. 89% of surveyed HR professionals say that a flexible workplace correlates with job satisfaction.

By planning ahead, you can better manage your workload and employee requests. A little planning can help you start the new year off right. With a clear mind – and a clear desk – you can increase your productivity as well as that of your employees.

Ryan Ayers

Ryan Ayers is a father, husband, consultant to start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs, functional iced-coffee addict, MBA holder and lover of all things related to business, tech, innovation & the LA Clippers. Additionally, I was interested in knowing what the typical timeline is for editorial review on submitted articles. Thanks so much for your time and have a great day!

How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

For many business leaders, true work-life balance is often elusive. Some even say it’s impossible to achieve. No matter how you define balance, though, one thing is certain: It’s essential to make time in your busy schedule to address both personal and professional needs.

To help you do this, we asked a panel of Forbes Coaches Council members to share their best approach for juggling work responsibilities with home and family responsibilities when life gets hectic during the holiday season. Here is what they advise:

Members discuss a few ways you can better balance your time during the busy holiday season.

Photos courtesy of the individual members

1. Delegate Tasks

The best approach is taking the priorities of what’s required of you in consideration. Whatever you must do, do. Delegate the rest to others. Take care of yourself during these times as well. If you cannot function at your best, things around you will begin to seem more stressful than they really are. – Ryan Lovett, Enneagram Enthusiasts

2. Define Your Work Priorities

Work smart, not hard. Define the work priorities and evaluate the investment of your time during the holiday season. Set a goal for this period that will satisfy only the priorities and the most impactful business activities. Delegate some of the responsibilities and, most importantly, spend good, quality time with your family. – Nikola Cvetanovski, Maktech Consulting Ltd

3. Negotiate Time For Yourself

Negotiate some “STM” time both at work and at home. Most people think of STM as “Strategic Time Management”—it is actually “Stop The Madness.” It is about negotiating some time for yourself to focus on clearing your head, focusing on the important few and planning for the next STM. This simple discipline gives you the “time out” to achieve more, especially when you have lots going on, both at work and at home. – Venkataraman Subramanyan, Tripura Multinational Pte Ltd

4. Stick To A Schedule

The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones in celebration of the season, but that doesn’t mean you have to choose personal life over work responsibilities. One of the best steps you can take to juggle a busy personal schedule with your daily work duties is to keep a schedule—and stick to it! That means you need to be realistic about existing commitments and the available time you have to do them. Sometimes, it means you’ll have to decline an invite or pass on a party and that’s OK. Remember, it’s also helpful to take time for yourself away from work and all the festivities. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin or burn out during a time that’s supposed to be all about joy and happiness. – Ashlee Anderson, Work From Home Happiness

5. Leverage Your Calendar To Carve Out Personal Time

I use my calendar as a tool to manage my energy during demanding seasons and prioritize blocks of time for experiences that bring joy. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to allow work to bleed into personal life because I love it—it’s invigorating, creative and fun. I’ve found understanding my daily energy rhythms is key to plotting out my day to ensure balance, wellness and productivity. And I can see with a quick glance at my calendar to confirm my values and priorities are visible. Because how we spend our days is the closest reflection to what’s important to us. – Tracy King, InspirEd

6. Improve Your Emotional Control

Establishing a work-life balance is a priority. Having the emotional control to focus on each situation at the right time and to be able to separate work time from family time can make the difference. Switching on and switching off can be the key. For that, impulse control management is a crucial skill. Flexibility, stress management and a high level of emotional self-awareness are additional soft skills that allow you to achieve that work-life balance. – Fernando Pinto Novais, P4S- People For Success, Lda

7. Set Expectations With Key Stakeholders Ahead Of Time

I recommend a quick chat or meeting with all the key stakeholders to design a strategy and plan clear expectations well ahead of the holiday season. This would help prioritize the right deliverables by identifying what can wait and what needs to be addressed ASAP. This approach may open up a good amount of time to devote to family and friends during the busy holiday season while handling the additional workload. – Sudhakar Reddy Gade, Nirvedha Executive Coaching Slutions Pvt. Ltd

8. Meditate

Pause. Sit still. Listen to your body and mind. We are of no use to anyone if we don’t take care of ourselves first. Meditation is a simple way to focus on your own wellbeing. – Jen Croneberger, JLynne Consulting Group, LLC

Read more in Four Ways Meditation Brings Focus To Business Leaders

9. Write Down Your Goals

Find a few minutes well ahead of the holiday season to reflect on your desires for enjoying the holidays, such as connecting with family and friends or recharging your batteries. Then you can turn these desires into actionable goals such as arranging travel to see family, scheduling events you want to host or attend, or downloading books you want to read. The act of writing down actionable goals helps us to focus on our priorities in a concrete, tangible way. – Antonia Bowring, ABstrategies

How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of leading business coaches and career coaches. Find out if you qualify at Forbes Councils.…

How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

Offer different ways to disconnect and recharge.

A recent survey of 2,000 full-time employees in the United States on the holiday season’s effect on productivity revealed that it’s not just money that keeps employees motivated and productive during the holidays; remote work opportunities and flexibility also play a pivotal role. The hurdle: Managers aren’t necessarily creating the right environment. To position your company for success in the new year, consider closing the office entirely for a few additional days during the holiday season. If it’s not possible for your business to close for additional days, then it’s even more important to offer workers alternative ways of disconnecting and recharging, such as greater scheduling flexibility. Be sure to give managers training on how to process PTO requests fairly. While managers can’t blindly let their entire team take the holidays off, they can do a better job of having open conversations with their employees around holiday PTO and job satisfaction.

Offer different ways to disconnect and recharge.

The holiday season is an especially challenging time for organizations that, at a minimum, seek to maintain status-quo levels of productivity. But as we all know, extra end-of-year obligations — from reviews to financial reporting to holiday festivities — eat into the final weeks of the year and often leave employees limping toward the finish line of a holiday break.

At West Monroe, we conducted a survey of 2,000 full-time employees in the United States to determine the holiday season’s effect on productivity. Our results reveal that it’s not just money that keeps employees motivated and productive during the holidays (defined as Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day); remote work opportunities and flexibility also play a pivotal role. If managers better understand this, they can create the right environments to make this time of year more successful.

Here’s what we found:

Managers don’t always make asking for time off easy.

Over half (51%) of employees said they’re uncomfortable asking their manager for time off during the holidays. The top reason, they say, is that their manager expects them to be available during their time off. One possible reason for that expectation is that the holidays are the busiest time of year for 25% of respondents.

The discomfort is particularly high within the banking sector, where nearly two-thirds (64%) of employees told us they’re uncomfortable asking for time off. In contrast, only half of employees working in the healthcare industry said they’re uncomfortable.

Remote work and office closures yield greater holiday productivity.

Over half of employees surveyed said their companies allow them to work remotely. Among this group, there’s no ambiguity about the efficacy of working remotely. The overwhelming majority — 91% — told us they’re just as productive or more productive when doing so. It’s no surprise, then, that when it comes to what employees need to be more productive during the holidays, the ability to work remotely came in a very close second to the predictable first: a bigger holiday bonus.

You and Your Team Series

Getting More Work Done

  • How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season
How to Boost Your Team’s Productivity
  • Rebecca Knight
9 Productivity Tips from People Who Write About Productivity
  • Ron Friedman
How to Beat Procrastination
  • Caroline Webb

In addition to remote working, we found that closing the office for more days during the holidays has a direct and positive impact on in-office productivity. Employees at offices that close additional days are significantly more likely to report higher productivity during the time that they’re actually in the office (42% compared to 17% in offices that don’t shut down outside of federal holidays).

As businesses navigate the holiday season, it’s important for leaders to consider how they can best position their organization for success in the new year with a focus on employee productivity and engagement. We have several recommendations, based on the survey data and our experience as workforce consultants in a tight job market:

  • Close the office for additional days beyond federal holidays, when feasible: Forty-five percent of employees say their workplace doesn’t close outside of the federal holidays. These companies may look at the cost of this action and decide it’s too steep — but consider the return on investment. Employees report increased satisfaction and productivity leading into the new year. And in a tight job market, that ROI is very real. We’ve tried this at our own company, and see the benefits of it year after year in terms of retention and productivity in Q1. If it’s not possible for your business to close for additional days during the season, then it’s even more important to offer workers alternative ways of disconnecting and recharging, such as greater scheduling flexibility.
  • Consider flexible scheduling — and recognition: During the holidays, 38% of employees want fewer in-office distractions so they don’t feel they have to put in overtime to get their work done. Others want to come in and leave early to have more holiday family time. For these workers, flexible scheduling options during the holidays can significantly drive productivity and morale. So can remote working: Imagine an employee who would otherwise request PTO to visit longer with family out of town, but through remote working can accomplish two days’ worth of work while still getting to enjoy family time in the evening.
  • Provide better training that equips managers to handle the holiday season: Our results highlight an opportunity for improved managerial training — training that can equip managers to better lead teams, manage unwanted distractions (like too many holiday events and requests), and process PTO requests fairly. As we highlighted in a previous study, there’s a lack of manager training in this area, with more than one-third of managers receiving no formal training from their employer. The holidays represent an opportunity to change that. While managers can’t blindly let their entire team take the holidays off, they can do a better job of having open conversations with their employees around holiday PTO and job satisfaction.

The holiday season doesn’t have to wreak havoc on employee productivity. If you create the right environment by listening to employees’ needs and equipping your managers to make good decisions, you’ll ultimately help your employees and the business get through this busy time of year successfully.

Don’t let the holiday music and parties get you off your game. Here’s how to enjoy the season while keeping things together!

I live in Colorado and as I’m writing this we are gearing up for our first snow day…even though the weather has been near 80 degrees for the past couple of days. Weather whiplash is a very real thing and so is decreased productivity during the holiday season and colder months.

This year has been epically crazy, so a lot of people will probably be caught off guard by the fact that the holiday season is just around the corner. OMG. You’re probably having a minor panic attack as you read that sentence and I’m right there with you. I’m freaking out because the holidays have historically killed my productivity if I don’t have a well-thought-out plan.

Let’s plan together and stay on top of things.

Work your schedule.

First, spend some time reviewing your schedule from October through January. Why those four months in particular? They are the four months where people begin to shop more, celebrate the holidays, and have a substantial uptick in personal plans.

Those plans may include: trips to visit relatives or friends, holiday parties, going to the theater, or hosting an event at your home.

Grab your planner and write down as many of those events as possible so that you have a clear idea of what’s coming up. Then, remove any event or activity that isn’t 100% necessary from your schedule. By taking the action of removing unnecessary events from your schedule you’re creating a buffer in your schedule and freeing yourself from obligations that will ultimately distract you from taking care of the things that are important.

Fall in love with the word NO!

The holiday season tugs on many people’s emotions. As a result, people may find themselves saying “yes” to activities that are a distraction. People may also need to say “no” when asked to participate in activities with emotional vampires.

You’re probably wondering how an emotional vampire affects your productivity? Well, they suck your energy dry. If drama ensues (and it typically does) with an emotional vampire, you’re getting sucked into calls recapping and discussing whatever imagined drama that the emotional vampire is upset about.

Saying “no” will be one of your most powerful productivity tools this holiday season. You’ll thank me later! On the flipside of this, say “yes” to activities with people that will lift you up and fill you with joy.

Shop from home.

In the age of Amazon Prime, Hello Fresh, Thrive Market, and Safeway grocery delivery, why on earth do you still insist on going to the grocery store several times a week? On Saturday or Sunday take some time to review your upcoming week. Create a meal plan and order your groceries or a meal kit service.

If you’re needing new clothes, order them instead of going to the store, and if you’re feeling especially focused on embracing systems to make your life easier, you may consider scheduling someone to help with cleaning during weeks when you have a ton of guests or just an especially hectic schedule. Don’t clean before the cleaners arrive – that’s a waste of your time!

Spend time getting ahead wherever you can. Here are some personal and professional examples:

  • If you celebrate Thanksgiving and plan on having guests that weekend, begin planning NOW. Start picking up non-perishable items such as: condensed milk, extra aluminum foil, the baking pan for the turkey, or canned cranberry jelly. Or, you could order a pre-made meal and save your time for spending time with friends and family.
  • Work backward on your projects. What do I mean by this? Look at the projects you’re currently working on and spend time getting ahead of those projects by looking at the end result you’re working towards. Figure out the deadline for those tasks and then work backward from that deadline. You’ll most like complete those projects faster and you’ll also create a time buffer because you’ll be ahead of your schedule.
  • Digital content creator? Blogger or Podcaster? Spend some time scheduling your content ahead (building a content buffer) similar to what was mentioned during the previous point.

Part of managing and maintaining your productivity is acknowledging that you can’t do everything and that the holiday season is a constant process of balancing:

  • Your expectations
  • Other people’s expectations
  • Social Commitments
  • Work

Maintaining your productivity during the holidays ultimately requires you to give yourself some grace, focus on one day at a time, and have realistic expectations of what you can do for you and what you can do for others.

Do you have any good tips to share? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

Even the healthiest of eaters can fall off the wagon during the holidays. After all, for the next few weeks, we’ll be surrounded by cookies, festive cocktails and more carbs (mashed potatoes! Stuffing! Yorkshire pudding!) than we have belt notches for.

Thankfully, there are a few ways to make sure that all of your healthy choices made throughout the year don’t go out the window before January. Here are just a few ideas to keep your diet on track—without feeling like you’re missing out.

Get Your “Comfort” from Somewhere Other than Food

Winter often makes us think of our all-time favorite recipes: hearty stew, gooey mac and cheese, creamy tomato soup, rich hot chocolate. But there’s no need to consume extra calories just to warm up. Consider opting for an aromatic cup of tea instead. This will warm you up inside and out—and keep you from indulging too much.

Keep Things Seasonal and Light

How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

Eating seasonally reduces your impact on the environment and ensures you are eating the freshest produce available. However, just because you’re eating seasonally doesn’t mean that you have to eat heavy foods in winter. There are plenty of delicious vegetables and fruits that are in season at this time of year, including kale, cabbage, beets, pumpkin, potatoes and squash. Consider using these winter veggies in lighter recipes, like our Green Goddess Tilapia Lettuce Wraps.

Buy Frozen

Stocking your freezer with frozen food has a number of benefits when it comes to improving your wintertime nutrition. Not only will you have access to fruits and vegetables that were flash-frozen at the peak of freshness, but having these items on hand can help you avoid the temptation of ordering takeout. Keep veggies and Tilapia fillets in your freezer, and you’ll always have a dinner option you can get on the table in under 30 minutes.

Choose Protein and Fiber

How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

Controlling your calorie intake on a normal day is one thing; doing it while celebrating a holiday requires a different type of willpower. All of your resolutions may go out the window when you come face to face with your favorite holiday meals and snacks. To keep from overeating, the solution is simple: seek out the proteins and vegetables first. Preparing salads, roast vegetables and lean fish for meals will ensure you feel satisfied and comfortably full.

Maintaining your healthy lifestyle over the holidays is important, but don’t beat yourself up for small missteps. Above all else, the season is meant to be enjoyed—so savor every moment.

Cooking at home is key to keeping your meals as healthy as possible. If you need ideas, check out our weeknight dinner hacks.

Photo Credits: KarepaStock / Shutterstock Inc., Elena Veselova / Shutterstock Inc., Inna Taran / Shutterstock Inc.

Published: 29 Dec 2018

How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

How to keep your project up and running during the holiday season?

Let’s be realistic – the holiday season does throw a wrench into the works. Some offices are closed during this time, while others continue to work with every ounce of strength. The season also presents plenty of challenges for your remote employees. With lots of festive responsibilities to take care of, it’s tempting to shrink priorities in favor of managing festive errands.

While you can’t expect everyone to be fully involved during the holiday week, it’s still possible to keep your project on track. Here are some ideas to help your remote employees maintain the work-life balance this week and finalize critical tasks.

How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

Ideas to helps

1. Plan the week wisely

A clear plan tailored to the holiday week is a way to kill two birds with one stone. It eliminates the risk of productivity drops and allows your remote workers enjoy the flexibility and make plans for their free time in advance.

The first step towards making an actionable plan is to divide all tasks into those that require assistance of other coworkers and those that can be done independently. Ask your employees to finalize everything that needs external help before the holiday week. This way, your team will be able to zero in on tasks which don’t involve correspondence with coworkers, which makes sense given that many people are offline during that time.

As an added bonus, your employees will appreciate the fact that you care about their time and want them to have a stress-free holiday.

2. Use group calendar

Calendars help you put your plan into action, so include all virtual meetings, deadlines, and milestones into a shared calendar. It will let your employees have an idea of everyone’s deadlines, tasks, and time off. Essentially, ask them to fill out the calendar with details like their availability to participate in meetings and their “away time” schedule.

3. Estimate the time needed for each task

With the productivity levels dropping around the year’s end, it’s essential to know how many hours a task is going to take. This way you can plan an employee’s workload down to hours and expect a predictable output. It’s much harder to reach goals this time of year when you only have a to-do list and zero idea about the timing.

4. Say no to multitasking

It’s always tempting to deal with certain tasks after the holidays. Working on one task at a time helps to resist that desire, so if possible, assign (or advise your employees to focus on) one day to one task or break down big tasks into several easily accomplished goals. Take your time to talk to each team member about their holiday workload and create a priority list.

5. Avoid new starts

The holiday week is certainly not the time for the big day of product launch. If any mishap takes place and key people are offline, you risk losing everything your team has worked so hard for. In fact, it’s better to avoid launching any long-term initiatives and reschedule the start for the post-holiday time. You certainly don’t want your employees to have your project on the back burner while they are busy managing personal errands.

6. Collaborate proactively

Sometimes you need all hands on deck, but many people take time off during the holidays. That’s why it is important to make sure your employees are trained to perform different tasks and are able to take over a part of someone else’s workload if necessary. Speak to everyone about who can take over their tasks or step in as an expert if any questions arise.

7. Schedule personalized check-ins

Holidays are for fun and family time, so it’s hard to tuck in your employees into an established communication schedule. What you can do is to settle on an hour during the day when everyone is online to answer questions. Arrange additional check-ins around each employee’s preferences. Be sure to ask your employees to set up calendar notifications and indicate when they won’t be available to respond.

Your Productive Holiday Week Recipe

Before the holiday week:

  • Divide tasks into those that require assistance and those that can be performed independently. The first ones will be your priority before the holiday week.
  • Leave tasks that can be completed independently for the holiday week.
  • Estimate the number of hours needed for each task. Create an actionable plan based on the timing.
  • Ask employees to put their “away” time into the group calendar and to specify when they are going to be back online and a person who can step in if necessary.

During the holiday week:

  • Don’t launch big and long-term projects.
  • Avoid planning activities that require all team members to be available.
  • Advise your employees to focus on one task at a time.

When the work is done, it’s time to celebrate and get into the spirit of the season. Our team at NCube wishes you lots of new achievements, professional growth, success and prosperity in the upcoming year. Happy Holidays!

Here’s how to avoid falling off the workout wagon in November, December, and January.

How to maintain your productivity throughout the holiday season

Olivia asks: I love running through the fall, but when the holidays hit, my motivation to log miles drops. What can I do to inspire myself to run throughout the holidays?

The holidays are a busy time between work, family, shopping, and parties. It is easy to understand why many people struggle to keep up a consistent routine. Here are six strategies to keep you motivated this year:

Set microgoals. Break your season up into individual weeks, and every Sunday or Monday, set a realistic workout goal for the next seven days based on what is going on in your life. In the Holiday Challenge, we do this by posting a target number of workout miles or minutes we think we can achieve. Some weeks allow for more activity than others, but the key is in maintaining your momentum by starting with a clean slate each week, tailoring your goals to what is possible, and working with the flow of your life.

Be accountable. Once you set your weekly goal, you’re more likely to keep it if you create a source of accountability. That could mean publicly stating your weekly workout goal on social media, posting it at your desk at work or on the fridge, or connecting with a buddy. Create a way you can both keep track of your progress and be accountable to your goals.

Get social. If you do better when running or working out with others, commit to a class, run with a group once a week, or invite a buddy on a weekly holiday series of runs. If you don’t have access to live social groups, use apps like Strava to connect to active runners online. Running with others can be a source of accountability as well as an inspiration to run longer and harder.

Mix it up. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The same is true for your running routine. This is a great time of year to mix things up: Add a class, cross-train, or change up your runs. By performing workouts your body isn’t used to, you’ll burn more calories and develop new skills and neural pathways.

Aim for shorter, higher intensity workouts. One fun way to maintain your fitness and mojo is to cut the number of workouts per week, shorten the time, and push harder with a high-intensity interval workout. One study showed that 2.5 hours of sprint interval training per week produced similar biomechanical muscle changes to 10.5 hours of endurance training with similar endurance performance benefits. By sprinkling in one or two short, hard efforts per week, you can maintain your fitness during a busy time of year, boost your metabolism, and add a sense of fun to keep things fresh. Read more about the perfect holiday workout here.

Break the hibernation. If you live in the northern part of the country, wintry weather can make it tempting to stay indoors. Although the treadmill is a convenient tool for truly miserable days, getting outside for a sunshine-filled run can boost your mood and break the feelings of isolation. Plus, there’s nothing like getting in a harder effort run in the cool weather. Try this winter workout. All you need is a short segment of plowed road.

You’ll be surprised at just how little you need to change to maintain your motivation to move. The key is to set yourself up for success with short-term goals and keep things fresh. Happy holidays.

Join Coach Jenny’s Holiday Challenge to stay motivated and accountable to run through the busy holiday season. Or, check out her podcast.