As wonderful as the holidays are, this season is anything but relaxing for most of us.

It marks a time when most businesses have to go into hyper-drive to meet booming demand from customers and clients. For many, it even accounts for 30% of the year's profits (according to The National Retail Federation).

Couple that with numerous holiday parties (you can't say 'no' to all of them), along with squeezing in much-needed time off and plenty of distractions, and you have a winter storm that can destroy productivity.

So how do you maintain your sanity, and most importantly, actually enjoy the holidays, during this rush?

Pare down the parties

'Tis the season for hundreds of emails flooding your inbox with the subject "Holiday Party!" As tempting as it may be to squeeze in as many social events as possible and be a good networker, realize that over-scheduling is anything but productive.

As Warren Buffett once said, "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say 'no' to almost everything." Consider paring down your holiday events to just one or two a week. Rather than just outright declining the invitation, offer to meet up after the holiday rush--the invitee will appreciate catching up when this craziness dies down.

Plan ahead

When customers form a proverbial line out the door, don't turn a chance to boost profits into what I call the "reverse curse."

Rather than scrambling at light-speed to meet increased demand during the holidays, your best bet is to plan ahead. According to HR expert Peggy Isaacson, before it gets really crazy, you should look back to the problems you previously encountered: "What were the hassles last year? Were you short-handed because too many people took time off? What did your customers complain about?"

Stress can sometimes be a good thing

The good news is that some of your holiday-related stress can in fact be harnessed into productivity, according to the experts at Harvard Business Review. They suggest that stress does in fact, have some side-effects that boost productivity, like increasing your learning capabilities in short-bursts.

The key here is to make a habit of reframing stress--and seeing it as an enhancer for great work rather than a negative. This is known as "psychological thriving," and any athlete who has performed under pressure knows its rewards.

Being the Grinch destroys productivity

Believe it or not, getting in the holiday spirit will not only boost the attitude of your office, but it's proven to lead to increased productivity. Science shows that if you have fun, your tasks will get knocked out quicker--so don't be afraid to get out the Santa outfit or play holiday tunes while working (as long as you keep the eggnog in check).

Keep movin'

As it turns out, exercise can be the one thing you shouldn't miss out on during the holidays, which can often be extremely stressful (cue in Uncle Henry talking politics on Christmas Eve). If you aren't going to make it to CrossFit because of last minute shopping, try taking a walk during your lunch break or even staying out on the dancefloor a little longer at the holiday work party. Your brain, and your stress levels, will be extremely thankful for the serotonin they will be receiving.

It's time to say, 'good night'...

In the next few weeks, as celebrations are a plenty, try using the phrase 'good night', instead of 'one more hour,'  'one more drink' or 'I'll sleep in on the weekend.'

Our schedules, diets and daily habits are already so out of whack during the holidays, that the least we can do for our bodies (that do so much for us) is to get some sleep. According to Harvard Medical School, a lack of sleep not only makes us tired the next day, but actually impairs our mood, judgment, safety, work performance and overall health.


The holidays are a great time for reflection. Schedule yourself some downtime daily to be alone and allow yourself to do some thinking: What am I most proud of this year? Is there something I am maybe not so proud of? What do I want to focus on next year? Is there someone that I need to repair sentiments with? Finish the year of with contentment--what is done is done, and what is to come in 2017, well that is up to you.

Do you have any tips for staying productive during the holiday rush? Give me a shout-out on Twitter!