If there were a contest to determine the least productive month of the year, December would win, hands down. Dark and cold as January or February, December also boasts a calendar full of holiday commitments both personal and professional. No wonder, then, that we sometimes have trouble getting things done.
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The key to beating back stress and missed deadlines is to plan ahead — and manage expectations.
1. Look at the whole month, not just today or this week.
Most of us have deadlines on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. While it’s always good to think ahead, you can get away with taking the short view in, say, May or June. Not so during the holiday season, when the closer you get to Christmas, the less likely you’ll be able to even get in touch with anyone about your projects — regardless of whether you, personally, celebrate any winter holidays.
2. Recognize that Christmas week is a wash.
We’re not suggesting you bring in your PlayStation 4 that week and cancel all meetings — just don’t plan on getting a lot done. The week of December 25 is a bad time for important meetings and high-priority projects. You won’t accomplish much, and you’ll annoy your co-workers, many of whom will be checked out mentally, if not completely absent from work.
3. Keep the partying down to a dull roar.
The first holiday party is lots of fun. The second is an obligation. The rest are an opportunity to see how overtired and run down you can get before you catch that cold that’s been going around. Give yourself a break: say no to some, and choose a departure time for the rest, so that you’ll be able to get home and get some sleep. This goes double for events on a school night.
4. Keep warm.
A study from Cornell University found that workers committed 44 percent more errors when the thermostat was below 68 degrees — and that doesn’t even take into account all the time workers waste, complaining about being freezing. If you have any say in the office temperature, turn it up a bit. If not, think about bringing in a space heater or bundling up.
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