We’ve all heard the jokes and seen the memes about workplace productivity and how it plummets to zero the closer you get to Christmas. For many of us, the work Christmas party is the cut-off point after which, you may be turning up every day until your vacation, but very little is being achieved. Your main focus is quite probably finishing off your Christmas shopping and general counting down to the holidays when you can forget all of this nonsense.
And then there’s January. That most awful of all months. The holidays are over, your vacation is over, your money has probably run out, and there’s a long time to go till payday. But the chances are that you’re not really ‘feeling it’ yet when it comes to knuckling down at work. For one thing, you’ve had a look at that list of jobs that ‘December You’ thought they could just put off till January, all of which now need doing. They can wait another week, right?
By the time you’ve got your mojo back and are up to full operating capacity, there’s probably two to three weeks of your working year wasted. Which is fine, because everyone does it, right? Well, not really. You’re being paid for this time, after all, and while your bosses might forgive some festive slacking off, it’s still a dangerous game to play and a missed opportunity to shine by powering through your workload while everyone else is dreaming of sugarplums.
But how do you stay motivated at this time of year? There are a few scientifically-proven tips you can try out, starting with a bit of psychology. If you can gain a fresh perspective on the work that you’ve got to do, helped by a ‘new mental accounting period’, this will motivate you to approach the tasks with your goals in mind and new energy, so this one would be perfect to try out when you get back to your desk in January.
Another option is to reward yourself before you start a new piece of work. This is particularly easy to do before Christmas when every office is full of sugary festive treats. Instead of just ploughing your way through them, take one and make sure you use it to effectively bribe yourself to do some work. The dopamine levels you’ll get from this should help you get started with a minimum of procrastination.
Something else you’ll be doing a lot in the build-up to Christmas is smiling, whether it’s from reliving office party highlights or just remembering how soon you’ll be leaving the office behind you for the rest of the entire year. Smiling does reduce stress and anxiety, so you can use this simple action to get yourself in the mood to work, as long as you can manage to keep your focus and not get distracted by the things that are making you smile.
One way to achieve this might be quite a formal approach. You know that your motivation will start to dip as soon as the first Christmas tree is put up in your workplace, so why not make a contract with yourself to promise that you will keep on working hard, no matter what the circumstances or how many times you hear Sleigh Ride on the radio. An app like stickk.com can be useful for doing this, letting you commit to yourself that you will get a certain amount of work done in a certain amount of time.
Christmas and the New Year aren’t the easiest times of year to work through your to-do list, but why not try out these tips and see if you can be the one who stands out for what they are achieving while everyone else is drinking eggnog and wearing silly hats?
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James Ellaby is a trained journalist with over 15 years of experience writing about business, entertainment and technology.