6 ways to keep your mind from wandering at work during the holidays

There’s holiday music playing, your coworkers become a bit more cheery, and shopping apps are being downloaded. With all the holiday hoopla going on, how are you staying focused on your work projects?

We’ve turned to experts for their strategies to keep your eye on your work agenda and your wandering mind for when you’re off the clock.

Schedule holiday worry time

Everyone has a large holiday to-do list, but with planning, worrying can be managed.

“Set aside a specific time each day to think about the gifts you want to purchase, the decorating you want to do, and the parties you’d like to attend,” says Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.

Catch yourself

Try and be one step ahead of your temptation to deviate from your work tasks.

“If you find yourself starting to shop online at the office or you start making a list of the goodies, or you need to bake when you should be working on a project, remind yourself that you have set aside time to do that later,” suggest Morin. “That can help you stay better focused on your current tasks.”

Create shorter work spans

Because there are so many work distractions during the holidays, try to stay focused for small chunks of time.

“Set a goal to stay on task for a short amount of time – 10 or 15 minutes and set a timer,” suggests Morin. “When the timer goes off, give yourself a quick break, maybe two to five minutes. When your time is up, get back to work.”

She said these shorter work spurts may create more productivity.

Make a list of your holiday tasks

By keeping a “do not forget list,” this may reduce stress and worry.

“You might find yourself stressed about all the things you have to remember, which can distract you from your task-at-hand,” Morin says. “Keep a handy list nearby where you can jot down the stuff that you’re afraid you might forget, like the gift you want to buy for a neighbor or the card you forgot to send to your cousin.”

Knowing that you’ve written down the things to do and may free up the mental energy you need to concentrate.

Consider using vacation time

Make sure you schedule time to shop and decorate. Instead of running around at night and on weekends, try taking a half-day off during the week for holiday errands.

“An afternoon or morning off when stores are less crowded is an overall time and stress saver,” says Melissa Mattern, owner of Meditation for Regular People, a meditation studio in Portland, OR.

Slow down the holiday pace

On your lunch break, or before or after work, Mattern says to get back to basics regarding the winter holidays. To become mindful she says to take a walk, a nap, or enjoy a few minutes with a book and even go a step further.

“Throw a snowball as far as you can throw it, or breathe and gaze at that one Christmas tree in town that is the showstopper,” she says. Before you know it the holidays will be over, and the hectic first quarter begins again.