The holidays are a time where productivity and maintaining your sanity will be extremely tested. From numerous office festivities to get-togethers with your family to hectic travel plans, there are plenty of distractions to go around during the holidays.

During this time of the year, many will think that it's impossible to stay productive. With that in mind, they'll sit in idle until January 1st before cranking the productivity engine back up.

It's easy to blame your lack of productivity on the holidays. But, each of us faces various distractions during this time of the year.

While you can't control the external chaos of the holiday season nor the people who are causing the distractions, you can fully control how you choose to respond to those various situations. As you're preparing for another demanding holiday season, use these four steps to stay sane and productive over the holidays.

1. Be intentional with your actions and time.

I know, staying focused and productive during the chaotic holiday season seems like mission impossible.

But, staying focused and productive during the holiday season isn't about attempting to control the outside world. Staying focused and productive during the holiday season is about you staying disciplined amidst the chaos.

And the first step toward discipline begins with you getting organized. Using a schedule is your best friend. But, each thing that fills a slot on your scheduling needs to be for a particular reason, not "just because".

To get started with this process, start scheduling the most important activities of the week into your calendar. Afterward, allow smaller tasks to fill in and then at the end of the day, review your actions and plan for the next day.

2. Be selfish and prioritize your well being.

One of the first things people let go around this time of the year are their healthy habits. With the office parties, gatherings, and traveling--your healthy habits will be severely tested.

While your healthy habits don't need to be perfect, it's important to not let them slide to the end of the bench because that throws away all your momentum that you've worked hard for.

For example, if you're traveling, you can simply do some bodyweight exercises at the place you're staying at instead of seeking a gym out for that short period of time. Another option I like to do while visiting cities is going for a run, which allows me some sightseeing opportunities as well.

Don't strive for perfection with your habits during this time of the year, strive for consistent but imperfect action.

3. Be obsessed with quality, not quantity.

During this time of the year, it'll seem as if everything and everyone needs your attention right this second. Instead of forcing yourself to work longer and harder, focus on working smarter--specifically focus on your quality of work and actions.

Decide your big rocks each day and don't allow anything else to interfere until those big rocks are crossed off the list. Define the outcome you want over this period of time and reverse engineer back into small daily actions.

4. Be realistic about your expectations.

No matter how hard you try, things will be a little off during this time. At the end of the day, the best thing to do for your sanity during the holidays is to be intensely realistic about what you can actually accomplish.

Think about how much you'll truly be able to do, when you'll be available, and when you'll have time for others.

You'll probably indulge in the office treats and family pastries more than you imagined. You'll feel sluggish more than you want and your morning routine won't be executed to perfection each day.

But that doesn't mean you're failing. What it means is that you're human, not a machine.

Published on: Nov 27, 2017