Three tips to stay productive during the holiday rush

'It's easy to let your performance slip in the last few weeks of the year,' experts say

The holiday season is often full of joy—yet lacking in productivity. Leaders should follow a few key steps to keep up with work and start the next year off strong, Renee Cullinan and Shani Harmon write in Fast Company.

Cullinan and Harmon, founders of Stop Meeting Like This, say time management is especially important during the holidays. "Between the sugar highs and lows, the lure of online shopping, and the demands of your social calendar," they write, "it's easy to let your performance slip in the last few weeks of the year."

Productivity: It's just a state of mind

Because "everyone is twice as busy and half as focused," planning is essential, they say. Here are their three tips to help stay on track.

Set the right goals. A heavy workload can make planning ahead difficult, but putting it off won't make things any easier later. Cullinan and Harmon say you should set aside some time to identify the most important outcomes that you need to achieve by the end of the year and communicate them to your team.

"If you can turn a productivity slump into a spike—all with just a little planning—you'll feel great heading into the holidays," they write.

Five work habits of productive and happy people

Look at the big picture. The holiday season is a good time to both evaluate your performance over the course of the year and think about how to improve in the future. Cullinan and Harmon say celebrating a team's achievements can "help boost everyone's momentum for a final, end-of-year push and help you get the New Year off to a great start."

Next, "Make a collective commitment to working smarter and using each other's time well in 2016, and base your goals on the achievements you've just celebrated," Cullinan and Harmon write.

Make your work count. With limited time during the holidays, it is important to "focus on working smarter." Cullinan and Harmon suggest working backwards from your desired outcomes. Make a game plan with your team and be "relentless" about follow-up items, including by sending email recaps of meetings.

"With some discipline and a sense of purpose, your sprint to the year-end finish won't be half as exhausting as it's been in the past," they conclude (Cullinan/Harmon, Fast Company, 10/9).

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