Salute to Spouses Blog

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How to focus at work during the holidays

Shopping and parties and presents, oh my!

During the holiday season, it's really tough to stay focused at work with so much else going on at home. In fact, for some businesses, the holidays can be the busiest time of year. Don’t get too caught up in this magical time. Despite relaxed schedules, holiday lunches and other seasonal perks, your jolly old boss will notice when your monthly report isn’t on his desk. So, follow these tips to enjoy the season without hurting your job performance.  

Tighten the reins on your time.

Time flies, but it flies even more when we are distracted by work things at home and by home things at work. What results is a vicious cycle of getting nothing done well in either place. Rather than letting time get away from you, rein it in by creating and following two daily schedules, one for work and one for home. Writing down what you have to do and scheduling the time to do it will give you a realistic view of what you can get done. Don’t forget to leave time for things like minor distractions, breaks, cooking/eating, transitions, commuting, and of course, fun. 

Set and keep boundaries

Don't bring home tasks to work or you'll end up bringing work tasks home. If you must mix the two, schedule a couple personal tasks during your lunch break. There's nothing wrong with writing your grocery list, addressing Christmas cards or running to the post office during lunch. However, avoid misunderstandings by not doing personal tasks at your desk. Head to the cafeteria, a park bench or the nearest restaurant so your co-workers and your boss don't assume you’re doing them on company time.

Avoid electronic desktop clutter

Have you ever minimized one window to find another one and have to close a dozen windows before you find it? That's a sure sign that you are doing too many things at once. Give yourself the luxury of working on one task at a time and finishing what you start before you start something else, and something else, and something else. Also, turn off notifications so they don’t keep blinking and blinking until you respond.  

Don’t let co-workers steal your time

It's easy to temporarily ignore telephone calls and emails until a more convenient time. But how do you ignore coworkers who just won't stay away? Close your office door. Wear earphones. Move the spare office chair across the room or place something in it so no one can sit down unless invited. If none of this works and visitors stop by anyway, don't engage in a conversation if you are busy; a little small talk can become a big time waster. Give them a minute or two; tell them you have a deadline you must meet; and offer to block out another time to talk with them later. If it’s important, they will appreciate your making time for them. If it's not, they will move on.

Finally, if you just can't focus because your mind is racing, maybe a distraction is exactly what you need.  Clear your mind with a brief walk outside, meditation or a completely different task. And then, get back to work.Your boss and your family are counting on you.

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