With the holidays fast approaching, balancing work and extra social responsibilities will become a huge challenge.  With so much going on, the last thing you want is to have your professional and personal life out of balance during the last stretch of the calendar year.  The good news is there are productivity tricks you can do to save time and make sure things continue to run smoothly throughout the holiday season.

Here are some of my favorite, simple yet tested, tricks to crush your holidays:

  1. Tidy up your calendar – Filling out a calendar will allow you to map out the months ahead, distribute your work in a way that makes sense with your commitments, and avoid having everything pile up at once. Learn to prioritize your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks in an effective manner.
  2. Schedule your social posts – You should be enjoying your time with your family and friends during the holidays without being constantly on social media. I personally use HootSuite because it allows me to share content and schedule posts with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram and gives me the analytics behind each post so I can make good decisions in the future with my social media marketing.
  3. Define your spaces; separate work from home – During the holidays, when you work from home, you should have a room dedicated to working. Don’t do it wherever you happen to be. Set aside some space, preferably a room to be your workspace so holiday guests know your boundaries.
  4. Start the day early – While most of your holiday guests are sleeping in on their vacation, this is the perfect time to get a productive few hours in before breakfast. Spend some time alone to just sit, relax, and be inspired to do some quality work.
  5. Draft your emails – With the sometimes erratic blocks of time you will have to work during the holidays, you can easily write emails ahead of time. Simply save them as a draft to be sent at a future date/time that is more impactful.  That way you increase the likelihood that the recipient will read it during their also hectic holiday schedule.
  6. Keep a notepad/pen nearby (or your smartphone Evernote app) – Creativity likely will strike you when you are least expecting it during the holiday season. Make sure to be prepared to jot down ideas for blog posts, projects, or anything that springs to mind. Look a few times a week to refresh your mind of things that could be done sometime. Some of the best work you’ll ever do will come from random bits of inspiration.
  7. Give yourself breaks – For every block of work, have a 15-30 minute break. Give your mind time to digest what it’s just done. You’ll improve the quality of what you produce a hundredfold. Read my last blog post about the Pomodoro Technique Here
  8. Go mobile – I am a big proponent of being “present” in whatever you are doing at that moment but sometimes you just need to fire off some emails or get in a short conference call with a client or team member. With the advances of smartphones, you can basically run your company from your phone in small doses so take advantage of this power during the holiday season.

Finally, be reasonable about your expectations.  Breaking things down into manageable pieces will make you feel a lot more organized and appreciative throughout the holiday season. Accept that your time may be more limited due to holiday obligations. Don’t schedule more than you can reasonably fit into your calendar and don’t take on anything new unless it truly fits into your business and personal vision statement.