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December 9, 2019

How to stay focused during the Christmas countdown

by Rachel Pewsey posted in Quick Tips.

Ayoa | How to stay focused during the Christmas countdown
It may feel like 2019 has flown by in a flash, but with only 2 weeks left until Santa pays us a visit (we can only hope), the countdown to Christmas is well and truly on. The festive season can be an enjoyable time to spend in the office with your teammates – everyone’s in a good mood, and chances are, there’s probably Christmas music and chocolates floating around the office to perk you up a little. But it can be easy to feel distracted, especially with the lure of your own festive plans just within reaching distance.

December is usually a time most of us spend finishing off any outstanding projects before the new year. Being able to stay focused now will not only help reduce stress before the holiday break, but get your new year off to the best possible start as you will come back to work with a clean slate. Take a look below at some of our tips to keep you focused and alert, so you stay on track to success during the next couple of weeks.

Assess your workload

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed with deadlines as we head quickly towards the end of the year. It’s therefore important to consider what you want to achieve before leaving the office for the holidays. With only a few short weeks left, making a definitive list of tasks to complete during this period is a surefire way to keep your attention focused on what needs to be done.

However, your list doesn’t have to be compiled using pen and paper. Task management tools such as Ayoa allow you to add tasks directly into your own Planner, or even into team Task Boards – so your workload stays organized and easy to track.

When assessing your workload and prioritizing your most important tasks, consider how long each task is likely to take you – then work backwards from your deadline to determine when in your schedule you will tackle each task. This is a handy trick for helping you to determine at what point you should begin a particular task. Trying to start everything on the same day is only going to cause further stress down the line as your tasks will soon become disorganized.


It’ll take longer than you think

When timing each of your tasks, don’t get caught out. Be sure to allow yourself extra time than you think you need to complete your work. Hofstadter’s Law claims that it always takes you longer than you think to do something. Whilst you’ll certainly have days where you’ll fire through your workload, it’s equally likely that you’ll have moments filled with distractions. Whether it’s being called into last-minute meetings or picking up new and unexpected priorities, these can start to push your original plan off-schedule.


“Assuming a project will take between 10% and 25% longer than you expect is typically a good place to start. It’s basically just a way…to make room for your mental blind spots in the time management department.”Ant Markman, professor at the University of Texas at Austin.


By giving yourself that extra breathing space to complete your tasks, you will still be able to stay on track, even when the unexpected pops up.

Set realistic deadlines

Give yourself realistic deadlines and consider what your key priorities are for the end of the year. As you start to get into the festive spirit, the last thing you want to do is work late because you’ve failed to organize your workload effectively. Working out what you want to achieve and when is the first step to organizing your to-do list for the coming weeks.

Your time is valuable. You don’t want to spend too much of it making various to-do lists on a notepad, only to have to re-write them when things change. Adding your upcoming tasks into a task management software like Ayoa isn’t only quicker, but when your priorities change, you can amend the due dates with the touch of a button – making tracking your workload easier than ever.

christmas morning coffee

Make the most of your day

The key to a truly successful day is to consider when you feel most productive. With the darkness settling in by the time we’ve hit 4 pm, you may find that your most productive hours are in the morning. Try to tackle some of your biggest tasks during this time, so you can stay on top of your workload and avoid that all-too-familiar feeling of stress and panic as your deadlines begin to sneak up on you. It’s important to take advantage of your productivity peaks, so you can stay focused and plan your day in a way that’s most effective for you.

Feeling on top of your game and finding yourself on top of your deadlines? Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back, but don’t get complacent. Rather than taking that extra time to kick back early, keep your productivity streak steaming along the right track and use this time to get a head-start on your new year goals. Even by starting off with a plan of the work you want to tackle during January, you’re setting yourself up to hit the ground running when you come back to the office in the new year.

winter sunshine

When talking about making the most of our office hours to maintain our focus, exposure to natural sunlight actually has a powerfully positive effect on our productivity levels. Try your best to head out of the office during your lunch break to catch some of those winter rays before the sun begins to set in the afternoon. A lack of sunlight can deplete our energy levels, making staying focused even more challenging. Giving yourself this chance to recharge your batteries before the afternoon sprint will do wonders for your focus and attention as you tackle the rest of your day full steam ahead.

Break down your tasks

When faced with a to-do list longer than your child’s Christmas list to Santa, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by your deadlines – and this ultimately has a detrimental effect on your focus. Breaking your tasks down into smaller, more manageable chunks is a simple and effective way to manage your time, by giving yourself bitesize steps that you can complete in a spare hour in between meetings.

Using Checklists in Ayoa is an easy way to keep these smaller actions together with your main task, so nothing gets lost. You can also see the progress of your task at a glance and feel that powerful sense of achievement when you tick off each step. Tackling your workload in this way will keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the amount you need to get done and keep you focused on smaller goals that you can achieve on a daily basis.

festive celebrations

Add a little festive cheer

Never underestimate the power of a little festive cheer. Try doing something nice for your teammates over the next couple of weeks; something as simple as Secret Santa or bringing in Christmas treats to share can do amazing things for team morale. By lifting the spirits of those around you, you and your team will feed off each other’s energy – keeping you focused and motivated to cross your own finish lines together.

It may be nearly Christmas, but there’s still time to make this month your most productive yet. Ayoa is here to keep you focused on your goals all throughout the year – but if you need a little extra boost during the festive season, managing your workload in Ayoa will be the Santa’s Little Helper you need to stay on track right through to the new year. Discover more and sign up for FREE today.

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