The holidays are usually a hectic time. When you take a look at your Calendar, you may notice the significant events are approaching swiftly, and the list of things you need to get done before then is growing steadily. A productive holiday can seem difficult to obtain. Here is how to stay productive during the holidays and all year long as your holiday observances come along.

Although staying on top of your Calendar during the holidays can seem like an impossible task, it is entirely possible. It may take some extra effort, but keeping your Calendar running smoothly is a possibility for everyone during the holiday season.

Luckily, several different tactics can help you keep your holiday season on track. Holidays aren’t going to be your only distraction that comes up in a year’s time. Always think of what will distract you from your work — what’s coming in the future for you, and prepare ahead.

Ways to Stay Productive

Of course, everyone has a slightly different method for keeping track of their Calendar. Pick out the techniques that will work best for your Calendar.

1. Avoid Holiday Distractions

Choosing to get things done instead of baking cookies and watching cheesy holiday movies sounds like an easy decision. However, it is easier said than done. Many of us cannot resist joining into some of the holiday festivities at home.

Even at work, the temptations do not end. Between ugly sweater parties and office conversations about holiday plans, it can be challenging to get anything done.

The best thing to do is to avoid holiday distractions as much as possible. If you cannot avoid them altogether, then prioritize the holiday activities that matter to you most. You may not have time to participate in every single holiday distraction, but you can (and should participate in your favorites).

Just remember to make time for the activities that matter. You can even use these fun holiday treats as incentives to be more productive during the rest of the day.

2. Start Your Day with the Most Important Tasks

As the holiday season drags on, the tasks that get pushed tot he end of the day are often just never completed. Although the end of the daily tasks is usually tricky to push through, it is especially difficult during the holidays. You have other things to do, like buy holiday gifts or book your holiday travel plans.

Try to put essential tasks at the very beginning of the day. You should be able to get through these most important tasks before the holiday season starts to make demands on your time.

If possible, put things you need to get done in the morning. That way, you will only skip less critical tasks if you need to start taking care of holiday things.

3. Shop Strategically

One of the most time-consuming parts of the holiday season is gift shopping. Everyone wants to find the perfect gift for your loved ones, but that can take up a lot of your time during the holiday season.

As the holidays approach, try to wrap up your shopping as soon as possible. One way to do this is to order the needed gifts as the ideas hit you, or you see items when you’re browsing.

For example, I bought my significant others’ Christmas present in July. The idea for the gift came to my attention in July. The item happened to be on sale, so I bought it and just tucked it away for later. When the holidays arrived, I just had to take time to wrap gifts for family and friends — instead of spending time finding, buying, and then wrapping their presents.

You can also order presents early as a way to capitalize on sales that happen throughout the year. It is almost impossible to find a good deal during the holiday season for the exact items you want. If you already have the items in your closet you will not be forced to waste your time or money during the holiday season.

If you aren’t able to order gifts ahead of time, then use the internet to your advantage. Online shopping can save you hours of searching through stores. Just set aside one or two evenings to complete all of your holiday shopping through the convenience of your sofa. Anyone should be able to find time for that on their Calendar.

4. Get Organized

Have a plan for what you want (or need) to accomplish during the holiday season. After you know what needs to get done, it will be easier to find time on your Calendar. Instead of just hoping that things get done along the way, make a plan and stick to it. Otherwise, the holiday season might hijack your motivation and leave you without anything to show for the holiday season.

5. Use Rewards to Get More Done

Remember, staying productive is essential, but you should still enjoy your holidays. You may be able to leverage the holiday festivities into getting more work done each day.

If you know what fun things are coming, then you are more likely to buckle down and work. The goal is to get to the fun part of the holidays as quickly as possible. Time flies when you are working towards accomplishing your goals.

6. Automate When Possible

An easy way to keep your productivity high during the holidays is to automate the necessary tasks. You may be physically unable to do everything you usually do, plus enjoy the holidays. That’s okay. Just be realistic about what needs to get done even during the holidays and what can wait until January.

7. Work Ahead

Everything that you can do in advance of the holidays, endeavor to get things done before the holidays are really in full swing. By completing some of the essential tasks before the holidays are upon, you can help to alleviate the stress that occasionally accompanies the season.

It can be a huge relief to have some of the essential tasks done before inevitable holiday holdups start to pop up around you.

Enjoy the Season

The holidays are a fantastic time of the year. It is not always easy to remain productive during the holiday season, but it is crucial to stay up to date with your important tasks.

If you fall slightly behind, do not beat yourself up. Just ease back into business as the holiday season wraps up in a few weeks.