Daydreaming of ribbons and wreaths when you should be focusing on records and reports?  You’re not alone.  During the holiday season, it can be easy to get excited/overwhelmed with planning out all your gift exchanges and perfecting the menu for the feast you’re hosting.  With plenty of distractions threatening the completion of your end-of-year projects, here are some basic tips for staying on task.

Set goals and map out your day.

Lay out all of your duties and tasks at the beginning of the day, and set mini goals to accomplish Task A by mid-morning, Task B by noon, and so forth.  Hold yourself accountable.  If you have a morning meeting with your teammates, consider telling them what you hope to accomplish for the day for some added accountability.

Break big projects into manageable pieces.

It can be difficult to focus on a large project that seems overwhelming from the start, so try breaking them down into steps or parts.  Give yourself some credit or take a small break after completing each part, and the larger project won’t seem like quite as much of an undertaking.

Unplug if you need to.

The Internet and email are two primary culprits in the war on lost productivity, so if a project requires extra devotion, consider unplugging yourself from them for small blocks of time.  Not being tempted to browse the web every time you run into a writer’s block, and not letting your attention be turned to every Outlook email that lights up in the corner of your screen, will help you remain focused on the task at hand.

Bring headphones.

If you thought ignoring your email would eliminate coworkers from distracting you, don’t forget about the in-person distractions that come from impromptu visits at your desk or your chatty cube mate who wants advice on what to get her boyfriend for the holidays.  If you have an important deadline to meet on a project, there is no harm in plugging in your headphones and drowning out the ping of emails and the buzz of your phone with some music.  If music is distracting to you, you can still use the headphones as a decoy that alerts all chatty coworkers “not right now, I’m busy.”

In this busy time of year, it is important to give that extra effort necessary for maintaining focus on your projects.  You will make your holidays that much more enjoyable once you’re able to cross the tasks off of your list and truly enjoy yourself!