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12 tips for a productive Christmas and a successful new year

Dec 11, 2019

By Moira Dunne

December is a hectic time of year in work with the parties and end-of-year attitude, so to ensure you have a relaxing break and a head-start on 2020,   here are 12 productivity tips to get you through the holiday season.

Set your priorities

In December, there are lots of things to get done, especially in these last few weeks. If you don’t have time for everything, be clear about your priorities. Agree this with important stakeholders to avoid any conflict or disappointment.

Protect your time

Right now, time in work is more limited than usual. Our days are often shorter due to traffic congestion, late nights, and early finishes for Christmas events, lunches with clients, etc. Be ruthless with your time. Spend it on your priority tasks and people.

Catch up with key clients

Connect with important people before the year-end. Try to find productive ways to do this. Make a quick phone call or send a charity Christmas Card. A quick check-in can really strengthen a relationship for continued collaboration in 2020.

Push some events to January

There is a lot of pressure to do everything before Christmas. Start asking if some things can be moved to January. This frees up some time now while also energising January, a month when it can be hard to get motivated.

Keep meetings short

Going into the third week in December, everyone’s time is limited. Now is the time to use productive meetings skills: keep them short and stay on track, have a clear agenda and make decisions and decide actions. Your colleagues will appreciate it, too!

Say no sometimes

Saying no is one of the hardest skills in business, but it can be the right decision if the request is a low priority. Explain in business terms the reason you are saying no and suggest an alternative if you can.

Batch up tasks to save time

Our brains work more efficiently when doing the same task repeatedly. Be smart: if you have multiple meetings in town, can you schedule them all for one morning? If you have three client phone calls to make, can you block out an hour to make them all? Similarly, try processing your email responses in bulk at specific times of the day.

Avoid commuting

Traffic congestion continues to increase as Christmas shopping reaches its peak. Avoid it by working from home some days. Even a few hours at home first thing before travelling into the office later can enhance your focus and productivity.

Make a to-don’t list

To-do lists are great to provide focus, but it can be frustrating if tasks are not getting done. What stops you, what distracts you? Make a to-don’t list – a list of things you are determined not to spend your time on. It will be easier to notice and avoid them when they do crop up. (And they will.)

Stay healthy

This is a hard one! Our good habits can go out the window in leading up to the break. Try to include exercise, even on your busiest days: walk to a meeting or the shopping centre, pick reasonably healthy restaurants for get-togethers, and avoid the corner of the office with the tin of Cadbury’s Roses (for as long as possible, anyway…).

Eliminate non-essential tasks

Push non-essential tasks to January or don’t do them at all. This includes social requests. Do you need to go to everything and meet everyone? Take control, embrace JOMO – the joy of missing out!

Make a plan for January

On your last day in the office, plan out the first few days back in January. This will give you a clear plan to get you going as soon as you’re back in the office.

 A productive December can lead to a restful Christmas period. Enjoy your break, you will have earned it.

You can download a free December productivity checklist from here.

Moira Dunne is the Founder of