How the Holiday Craziness Can Make You More Productive & Creative

Are there visions of sugar plums dancing in your head? Thinking about settling down for a long winter’s nap? Trying to figure out where you’re going to find seven lords a-leaping?

It’s not unusual for many of your thoughts this time of year to be about the holidays and the millions of things you have to do before Santa miraculously stuffs himself down the chimney. Holiday craziness can certainly put a crimp in your productivity around the office this time of year, but don’t start to panic that you’re not getting enough done because you’re so distracted.

In fact, let yourself be distracted.

Go to a production of “The Nutcracker” instead of sending emails one night. Download your favorite holiday music and listen to it at work. Offer to organize the office potluck and personally visit other departments to invite colleagues.

You may think all these things are time-wasters, and you’re only going to get further behind in your job. Not so. They’re really all activities that can boost your value and productivity in the long run, and make you happier and less stressed.

What could be a better holiday gift than that?

Don’t turn down the wassail

Research has shown that multi-tasking doesn’t work. But that doesn’t stop us from zipping around on Facebook while sending a text and jotting down notes for an upcoming meeting. Those activities frazzle our brains and lead to unfocused thoughts and unproductive days.

But new input, such as making a gingerbread house or attending a holiday concert, can jumpstart our brains.  New activities spark more creative thoughts, and conversations with people at a neighborhood holiday get-together may trigger new ideas or solutions to existing problems.

Even enjoying some spiked eggnog can be good for your career. A study by the University of Illinois at Chicago found that having a blood alcohol content of about .075 can trigger sudden insights to problems and tipsy participants were found to solve problems in a shorter amount of time than sober counterparts. So while this certainly isn’t an endorsement to hit the Jack Daniels all the time, enjoying a little wassail at a holiday party might be just the thing you need to solve a workplace dilemma.

Ways to Help Your Career During the Holidays

In other words, use the holidays to decrease your stress, not increase it. Here are some ways to help your career with all the holiday hubbub. Try:

  1. Attending an outdoor holiday event.  Studies have shown that exposure to outdoor elements can trigger creative thoughts and exercise can increase productivity. So get yourself to that ice skating party or attend the city’s holiday parade.
  2. Tuning into new holiday music. If you’re a Snoop Dogg fan, try listening to holiday tunes from Frank Sinatra. Or, if you believe in only classical holiday tunes, give Reba McEntire a try. The key is to jolt your brain out of what is expected and expose it to things in a new way.
  3. Going caroling in the office. OK, maybe you don’t have to sing your way among the cubicles, but take the opportunity to visit as many people in your company personally as you can to offer a “happy holidays.” We often forget some of the most important people to our career are sitting in the same building. Establishing goodwill during this time of year can help you create relationships that may help you land on a new, exciting project in the new year .  In addition, social interactions have been shown to reduce stress.
  4. Showing you care. You may be unaware that you’ve offended someone in your office or you’re viewed as unfriendly. By volunteering to help organize the office potluck or perhaps a collection for the local food bank, and you’re immediately connected to people in a positive way. This can not only help your professional image, but you may find the experience so personally rewarding that you come to think of your job in a new and more positive light.
  5. Watch a sappy movie. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a favorite of many, but you can choose any one of the holiday movies that seem to be playing in abundance right now. When you get home from your job, don’t reach for the laptop to work on a project. Instead, watch a movie with an uplifting message that can help you adopt a more positive attitude, which is necessary to trigger more creativity and productivity.

 

Start thinking of the holidays not as a distraction to keep you from your work, but rather as a unique time a year that provides you with the kind of stimulus and goodwill that can be a gift to your career all year long.

 

What benefits do you believe the holidays can provide your career?

Anita Bruzzese

Anita Bruzzese is a syndicated columnist for Gannett/USA Today on workplace issues and the author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy.” She has been on the Today show, and quoted in publications such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Self.com and BusinessWeek.com. Her website, 45things.com, is listed on the Forbes top 100 websites for women.

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