5 Ways to Stay Productive at Work During the Holidays

Ugly sweater contests. Secret Santas. Towers of cookies in the breakroom every day. Holiday parties for your team and with clients. No matter where you are in the world, December and the multitude of holidays within the month can be a busy time. And while the holiday season can put a jingle in your spirit, it also may damper your workplace productivity. How can you stay on track with your work while decking the halls?

Don’t overload your lunch hour

A lunch break sounds like a great time to run to the post office and mail gifts, go shopping or browse the latest sale online. But traffic, long lines or browsing endless online sale may make that lunch hour go well beyond and you end up working late or feeling rushed. Instead, make lunch time about eating and recharging so you can be focused through the afternoon and wrap up your workday on time for errand running after hours.

Just say no

Speaking of eating a healthy lunch, resist temptation and say no to the homemade cookies, special breakfast treats, candy dishes on every desk and popcorn tins that seem to be around every corner in the workplace during the holiday season. A snack here and “just a bite” there will end up making you feel sluggish and in need of a nap when you should be working.

Tune it out

While it often can be hard to avoid distractions at work, during the holidays it can be even more challenging. Co-workers chatting about holiday plans, everyone laughing over the latest viral holiday e-card or vendors dropping by with gifts can break your concentration from your work or derail a large amount of time. If you have an office, consider closing the door when you really need to focus. In an open workspace, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones may be of help.

Not a creature was stirring, not even a co-worker

During the many holidays celebrated in December, it’s not unusual for vacation days to be tacked on to official company holidays. Or you may need to leave early for a child’s school program or to get ready for an evening holiday gathering. Don’t wait until the last minute to share this information with your boss or co-workers. Get together with your team to ensure there is adequate coverage when multiple people are aiming to be out of the office, so the extra workload isn’t overwhelming or that priority projects get overlooked.

Embrace the quiet

If you’re working during the holidays and your officemates are on vacation, take advantage of this time with fewer meetings and less interruptions. Wrap-up projects that have been on the backburner, organize a new project for the new year or take some online training that you’ve always been interested in but couldn’t find the time to do.


For more than 30 years, Heather has been creating innovative content for a myriad of communities including business leaders, nonprofit, energy, health care, education and aviation. She has been with YPO since 2014, currently serving as Communications Director leading the member communications team.