December can feel like a personal and professional whirlwind. Distractions are everywhere--and it feels like there are a million loose ends to finish up before the end of the year.

Your personal holiday plans are likely to compete for your attention. In the midst of working on an important task, you might start thinking about whether that tool you bought for your father-in-law is a good enough gift. Or, you might suddenly remember you need to bake cookies for that holiday party this weekend.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to help you be more productive and focused during the holiday season. Getting more work done in less time can help you to enjoy the holiday season more.

1. Schedule time to worry about your holiday to-do list.

Sixty-nine percent of people report their holiday stress comes from a lack of time, according to a survey released by the American Psychological Association. While you can't manufacture more hours in the day, you can set aside more time to address your holiday to-do list.

Schedule time each day to review your to-do list and prioritize your activities.

When you're tempted to shop online or create a grocery list during the work day, remind yourself that you have set aside time to do that later.  If you don't have time to get everything done, consider what you can cut out.

2. Stay focused for small chunks of time.

Set a goal to stay on task for a short amount of time--10 or 15 minutes might be all you can tolerate. Set a timer and get to work.

When the timer goes off, take a break for two to five minutes. When your time is up, get back to work. You might find you're able to stay more productive when you work in short bursts.

3. Keep a "do not forget list."

From end-of-the-year tax issues, to holiday cards you want to send, there's a lot to remember during December. Trying to push those things to the back of your brain so you can focus on the task in front of you while simultaneously trying to ensure you'll remember later wastes a lot of brain power.

Keep a handy list nearby where you can jot down the stuff you are afraid you might forget. Knowing that you've written it down in a safe place frees up the mental energy you need to concentrate on what's in front of you right now.

 4. Say no.

Whether you agree to take on one more end-of-the-year project or you say yes to another party invitation, it can be tempting to over-schedule yourself during the holidays. But, trying to do everything will leave you frazzled and unproductive.

Rather than participate in every activity, choose carefully. Decide the festivities you engage in are going to count. Then, focus on being present when you're attending events so you can truly savor each one.

5. Set a time limit for specific tasks.

As the year comes to a close, you might find yourself ruminating on the past 365 days as you think about the goals you abandoned and the mistakes you made. Or, you might already be daydreaming about next year as you start thinking about what you hope to achieve.

Either way, overthinking will slow you down. The best way to prevent yourself from thinking too much is to set a timeline for your tasks.

Before you begin a report or tackle a new project, determine how much time you want to spend working on it. Giving yourself a deadline can inspire you to focus on doing more and thinking less.

Remember the Big Picture This Holiday Season

Five years from now, you won't remember what you wore to the holiday party and you won't worry about whether the gifts you gave were perfect. Those things don't matter in the long term.

So try to keep your priorities in line with your values this holiday season. Less stress about the holidays will help you stay better focused on your work and better able to enjoy the last few weeks of the year.