It’s that time of year when many workers are in a “circle back in January” mindset. With so much going on during the winter holiday season, it often isn’t easy to stay productive. Productivity can often suffer when the sun sets at 4 PM.

Even outside of the holiday season, it can be difficult to stay productive all the time. Whether you’ve got an upcoming holiday, are just returning from vacation, or you’re just plain feeling unmotivated, sometimes you’ll need a little extra assistance regaining your productivity. Gain that needed productivity boost by embracing these stratagems and maintaining control of your mindset.


Does it often feel like you have too much on your plate and too little time to deal with it? This is a normal mindset, but it can be much more manageable if you learn how to prioritize what’s important and break down those work morsels into easy-to-digest bites.

Simplilearn suggests starting by planning your day out ahead of time and writing your top-three most important daily tasks. Not only will listing out your schedule make the day feel much more manageable but you’ll clarify what actually needs to be done on the day. Give yourself the time you need to focus on the big tasks, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Minimize distractions

Of course, it’s easier to stay on target and accomplish those important tasks if you minimize your distractions. Whether you’re working in a crowded office or from home, whether you’re planning a vacation or dealing with the tribulations of holiday travel, there are universal ways to stay focused.

You may need your devices to check in with your team and be appraised on important tasks, but it can be a good idea to turn off your notifications from time to time, according to Luxafor. You can plan for “deep work” times by turning your phone off temporarily and focusing on your task at hand.

The Muse advises staying away from accomplishing personal tasks during work time. No matter the circumstance, it’s easy to lose track of time or let distractions snowball out of control if you put work tasks on the back burner.

Set boundaries

Those outside forces can’t be contained forever, and sometimes you’ll get requests that will disrupt your productivity. But don’t forget that not every request is mandatory. It’s okay to say “no” sometimes!

Not every meeting is useful or pertains to you, but you may feel obligated to attend. Green Geeks’ Michael Phillips says to recognize what tasks aren’t a good use of your time and to give yourself permission to decline.

This applies to minor tasks as well. Don’t feel bad about declining a lunch invitation or a quick, non-work-related conversation if needed. These distractions can be nice, but if you really need to stay focused, learn to say “no.”

“Stay focused on the plan for the day, and politely remove yourself from distracting situations and people. It may be one of the most challenging ways for many of us to become more productive, but it’s in our interest to give it a try.” –Michael Phillips

Learn to improvise

No plan survives contact with the enemy, and even if you plan your day out and avoid any unnecessary distractions, there will still be curveballs that come your way. Sometimes, you simply can’t say no. Instead, you’ll have to improvise.

Forbes’ Lisa Bodell writes to take the improv approach with “yes, if.” If something doesn’t sound feasible as is, find a way to turn into into a yes if certain conditions are met. For example, if there is some way to take pressure off of one of your pressing tasks, you’ll be able to use that time to assist with something else.

“And lastly, when you find yourself one breath away from saying “No, because we don’t have budget for this,” replace it with “Yes, if…we can use funds allocated to Y or Z to experiment or test this idea.” –Lisa Bodell

Learn how to choose your battles and decide whether a hard no or a compromise is a better solution because the time spent with that debate could be better used on your necessary tasks!

Wrap up

We all struggle to be productive at times, but if you take time to focus on your most pressing tasks, minimize distractions, set boundaries, and learn how to be flexible, you can put yourself in the right mindset and accomplish your goals. It takes some practice, but if you approach your work with a plan, you’ll find great success!

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