It’s that time of year again. We’re all home for the holidays spending time with our loved ones and family, and we hope that when we take 5 minutes after dinner to check our email that there’s not a backlog of tasks longer than the chimneys Santa has to climb down and back up again.

It’s also the time of year that clients are pushing to get their projects completed. So how can you take what little time you have and be productive with it?

  1. Turn off all Social Media. I often leave Twitter on in the background, and Facebook stays open in a tab somewhere. For me this is not usually a problem. But if you’ve gone home there is likely a large amount of children around (my home currently has a head count of 10). Between them and your Uncle Gerry (who really likes his Rum and Eggnog), you don’t need anything else to pull you away from work.
  2. Work Late. Don’t work longer, just later. For some this is normal, but after 9:30 when people are starting to doze off you can try to catch up on missed emails, push commits and get any pesky bugs out of your code. It’ll likely be quiet, and you won’t look like that person who has to work during the holidays.
  3. Work In Short Bursts. I’ve found that working for an hour or two here and there throughout my day is often better then trying to work for 5-8 hours straight in a busy home at holiday time. Grab an hour to sit down and work when people are out shopping for last minute gifts or beating up grandmas for that $25 blender that they really don’t need. You’ll surprise yourself how much work you can get done in brief periods.
  4. Prioritize. Work smart and not hard. If you need to work on a project pick things that are critical. By doing this you’ll find you have less to do. Your client/boss will also be happy.
  5. Stay Mobile. Leave the laptop closed and try and do as much work as you can from your iPhone or iPad. If you don’t own one yet, it’s the right time of year to ask for it, or gift it to yourself. At the very least, you can stay on top of emails and Basecamp messages.

Every Second Counts

The holidays are a busy time of year for everyone. Every second counts when you’ve got so little time to spare. But don’t worry: if you can stay focused during the free moments you find to work, and avoid distractions, you’ll be able to keep up without giving in to that overwhelmed, full-stomached holiday laziness.

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