This is the time of year when everyone is wondering how to maintain focus if you work from home during the holidays. Christmas is almost here, and there’s so much to freakin’ do so it’s impossible to keep up with everything you need to accomplish.
You have client work coming out the wazoo, not to mention all the Christmas presents you still need to buy. Oh, and don’t forget Christmas dinner is at your house!
I’m totally there with you. I’ve stressed over getting client work done and been so busy that it didn’t even seem possible to get a shower in with all the chaos much less look at my Christmas to-do list.
If you’re like me, your mind is going a million miles a minute, and you find it difficult to stay focused on work or anything for that matter because your mind keeps drifting to everything else you need to do. If you have kids, that’s an extra level of craziness added to this stressful time of year.
It’s difficult to work with them running rampant all over the house and fighting over who gets to watch what on TV. Your house looks like a hurricane went through it, for real!
Luckily, there are some solutions to the problem of how to maintain focus over the holidays.
The Simplest Solutions to the Question “How to Maintain Focus on Work During the Holidays?”
You probably think that the only solutions are complex or will stress you out even more, but many of them are quite simple. Here are eight tips to help you maintain focus during the holidays.
1. Consider Changing Your Work Schedule for the Holidays
When the kids are home from school during Thanksgiving and Christmas break, it’s almost impossible to work. They’re fighting back and forth over toys and coming into your office every five minutes to ask when you’ll be done working.
Try getting up a couple of hours early (ugghhh, I know, I winced at that too) or work after the kids go to bed at night. If the thought of that makes you want to throw in the towel and go back to your 9-5 just for some peace, remember it’s only temporary.
Use these times to work on client work or business tasks that require the most concentration. Leave the things that require less brainpower, such as updating spreadsheets or sending routine emails to complete during the day when you have less time and focus because of the kids.
2. Take Some Time Off
Every part of running a freelance writing business requires planning and preparation. Since you know every year when the holidays are and when the kids are going to be out of school, plan your work ahead so that you can take some days off in the middle of the chaos.
You may not be able to predict how much client work you’ll have way ahead of time, but you can still find a way to take some time away.
I just went through two weeks of hell because one of my normal clients waited too long to send me the assignments, he needed me to complete for the month, and it threw off my whole schedule. But I worked hard so that I could have a few days off to decompress and enjoy time with family.
I’m a work-a-holic and feel weird not working since that’s what I do much of the time. However, even I take off time during the month to have lunch with my aunt, spend some time out with friends, or just get away from the computer to do something enjoyable.
You can take care of client work when the kids are still in school so that you only have the regular business tasks to take care of. Taking some time off will definitely make you feel less stressed during the holidays.
3. Take Breaks
Many people who work from home find it difficult to get away from the computer for even short breaks. It’s totally unhealthy to stay chained to your computer all the time, not to mention no fun.
It’s even more important to step away from work during the holidays when the stress increases exponentially. Take a break to enjoy a cup of coffee or do something fun related to the holidays such as decorating the Christmas tree!
4. Outsource Some of Your Tasks
This idea applies to your work and personal duties. Since there are so many tasks during the holidays, outsourcing becomes incredibly important. Now may be the time to consider adding a VA or Social Media Manager if you can afford it.
However, think through this and make sure it’s a viable solution that you can continue to pay for as part of your regular business expenses. It’s easy to make a bad decision when you’re in the thick of stress and overwhelmed with everything you must do for work and the holidays.
If you can’t afford to hire someone to help with your business, there are creative ways to still get help to relieve you of some stress.
I was beyond stressed earlier during the year and read somewhere that outsourcing can apply to household chores as well, such as cleaning your house. I wish I could remember whom to credit this with because it was the best thing I ever did. At the height of a stressful period, my house looked horrible. I didn’t have time to dust, thoroughly clean the kitchen. and so much more.
I don’t work well when I’m sitting amid what looks like a hellhole dump, so I hired a house cleaner to come in once a month to do a deep cleaning — best thing I ever did. Even having someone cleaning just once a month makes a difference.
It’s a less expensive way to outsource household chores and costs for about a quarter of what a VA would every month. Hiring someone for these types of chores allows you to work on more important tasks that bring in the cash so that one day, you can afford a VA as well.
You can also ask for help from your children. Many of them are glad to help, especially if they’re old enough to understand that helping mommy allows her to be more present during the holidays.
Have them load the dishwasher, dust, or if they’re driving age, they can run to the store and pick up things that you need. Or have them help with laundry. Consider hiring a babysitter a few hours a day to help entertain the kids.
5. Avoid Procrastination
When you’re exhausted and overwhelmed, it’s easy to procrastinate, even if you’re not a procrastinator by nature. I’m the queen of planning and getting things done ahead of time, but even I find myself procrastinating when I’m overworked.
I’ll sit staring at the computer screen type one sentence of an article and stop, go surf the internet or work on another part of my to-do list, then write another sentence. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
This type of procrastination comes from not taking breaks or stepping away from work for days, and it’s quite counter-productive. It’s one thing to push through client work for a day and then take a break but doing client and business-related tasks 12 hours a day for two weeks is very bad.
When you’re burnt out, it’s easier to put things off until the next day or next hour, and that is a never-ending cycle. Next thing you know, your deadline is looming, and you’re even more stressed trying to get your work turned in on time.
Inevitably, something unexpected comes up such as your internet service going out or someone getting sick in your family. Regularly turning work in late lowers your reputation, and you’ll lose clients.
Then you’ll have even more stress trying to make enough money to pay the bills and keep your electricity from getting cut off. Time management is critical.
Bottom line, procrastination is deadly for your business. It will make a situation already stressful, even worse and you’re not trying to live in a cardboard after you’re evicted because you could afford to pay rent.
6. Avoid the Time-Suck of Social Media
Many people working from home want to sneak a peek at their Facebook feed, but it’s so easy to lose time while catching up on your friends’ lives. The next thing you know, you’ve been surfing social media for an hour. I don’t know anyone immune to this problem.
Now, if you want to take a 15-minute break and check Facebook and Pinterest, that’s fine but set a timer. Some apps also help you curb the time you spend on social media.
Stay Focusd is an extension for Chrome that restricts certain websites for a set time limit. The default is 10-minutes. Once your time is up, the sites you’ve selected for the app to monitor can’t be accessed for the rest of the day. Pretty nifty, huh?
Productivity apps can help you remain focused and get more done so that you’re not staring at a to-do list that you’ve barely completed at the end of the day. That means you need to work even harder the next day, and you’re setting yourself up for failure.
7. Decorate Your Office for the Holidays
Many businesses decorate their office for the holidays, and just because you’re not stuck in a cubicle farm doesn’t mean you can’t make your office festive.
I’m a little odd because I keep Christmas decorations up all year round, just a few things that remind me of my absolute favorite time of year. Hell, I’d leave my tree up all year if I could, and maybe I will this year! I’m certainly not taking it down until the end of January at the earliest!
Oh, but I digress. Even if you’re less Christmas-obsessed than I am, a little holiday cheer makes it a little easier to work in your office every day. Put a pretty poinsettia on your desk or place a mini tree in your office.
Get the kids involved and you can create a new holiday tradition and entertain the kids at the same time. String lights around a bookcase or add some cute Christmas statues. You’ll find the decorations uplift your mood.
8. Set Boundaries and Learn How to Say No
Everyone seems to want you to do things for the holidays such as bake holiday cookies for your children’s classes or help with a holiday brunch at church. It’s never-ending, and while it’s flattering that people want you to do those things, you can’t do everything for everyone and expect to keep your sanity.
Decide the important events that you want to attend and the things for other people that you can do without pushing your limits. Instead of making homemade gifts, buy other gifts to save your sanity. Simplify things and make holiday preparation easier.
Also, friends tend to think that because you work from home, you’re available all the time. So, if a friend asks you out to lunch on one of your busiest days, you may have to take a rain check. Let your friends and family know the hours that you’re available. Whether you work at home or in an office, you still must put in certain hours every day.
Now you have some simple ways to combat the stress and anxiety of the holiday season so you can focus on your work. When someone works from home, the issues are amplified with the kids running around the house and additional duties that the holidays require.
However, focus is critical for the success of your business if you want any clients left after the holidays. So, try some of these solutions to keep your business and focus intact during the holidays.