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Five Ways to Stay Productive During the Holiday Season

My friends and I have a special name for the holiday season: Ooptember. We call the time between Halloween and Christmas Ooptember because, while attending costume parties, stuffing your face with turkey, and setting up endless holiday decorations, productivity truly feels “out of place.” But, somehow, we still have to find a way to be productive.

Here are five ways to stay productive during the holiday season:

1. Schedule Your Time

As a self-proclaimed type A-/B+ person (as in, not quite type A, but also not quite type B,) I am relatively organized but have never been a huge planner. I always make sure to hit important deadlines but prefer to go with the flow and see where the day leads in lieu of following a concrete schedule. Despite my natural inclination toward indifference towards pre-planning, I cannot recommend enough having as consistent of a daily schedule as possible during the holiday season. Mapping out your days ahead of time will be a real productivity life-savor. When you wake up, have your work time, leisure time, meal times, and bedtime already scheduled, and actually try to follow it. If you really need the flexibility, schedule multiple work times so you can pick and choose within!

2. Keep Your Work Out of Bed

If you are working from home during this cold winter season, it might be tempting to work from your bed. However, this is a bad idea both physically and psychologically. According to psychotherapist and behavioral sleep medicine therapist Annie Miller, “When we use our bed for other activities, like working, reading, watching TV, etc., we create an association with wakefulness. We want the bed to be a cue for sleep, and working in bed weakens this association.” Unsurprisingly, if you work where you sleep, it’ll be harder to stop thinking about work when you are trying to actually, you know, sleep.

3. Puzzles as a Gateway Task

I love doing puzzles as a work warm-up. Seriously, if productivity were a candle, a puzzle would be my lighter. Whether sudoku, matrix, or a crossword, puzzles help kick off my productivity because I find them fun, but they also activate the part of my brain needed for problem-solving and things, well, less fun. In college, I always did a sudoku or matrix puzzle before starting homework, and that productivity habit has stuck with me ever since.

4. To Prevent Unwanted Technology Use... Use Technology

Did you know that there are apps you can download on your phone to prevent you from, well, opening apps on your phone? Flipd, for example, allows you to set customized productivity times, enter focus challenges with your friends, and collect badges for milestones. Forest, another app designed for increased focus, plants a virtual tree when you put your phone down and gradually grows into a tree. However, if you leave the app to check your texts or social media, your tree will wither away.

5. Air-ing is Caring

It’s no secret that going on a walk outside is a great way to improve productivity. However, during the winter holiday season, you might live in a place where it’s too cold to enjoy a nice walk. If you can go outside for a break at some point in your day, do it! If the weather is so cold that it makes your face hurt, then step outside for just a few minutes! Just five minutes of fresh air can do wonders for your productivity. And just a little bit of light for some people is a day-maker. See: SAD Article.

Productivity might feel out of place sandwiched between several holidays, but we (most of the time) have to do it anyway. You got this! And if you can manage to actually maintain your productivity in Ooptember, I guarantee you will be way ahead of the curve.

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