The holidays bring great responsibility, obligation, and distraction. There are gifts, parties, decorating, and everyone is overly busy. It can be a frustrating time for those trying to get things done. But, it can also be a time of great opportunity.

The ritual of the holidays can help you gain perspective and see the world around you. There are incredibly productive things you might do during the holiday season that you wouldn't think about doing during the year. Here are my best suggestions and more insights from my Inc. colleagues.

1. Take stock of what is important.

Whether it's Thanksgiving or another thoughtful holiday, what better time to assess your health, family, friends, or personal state of mind? With 2015 coming to an end, now is a good time to catalog the year and decide who and what should be significant in 2016. Grab a piece of paper, make a list of items to consider and start assessing so you can start the New Year with a fresh perspective and renewed spirit.

2. Connect with those who can help.

The holiday season is a great excuse to reconnect with useful people you have accidentally ignored. It's heartwarming and unique to rekindle the old practice of sending holiday cards. You could do this electronically, but you can make an even bigger impact by sending physical cards to 25 people you would most like to re-engage. They will be surprised at your heartfelt gesture, particularly if you write a very personal note. Don't forget to follow up in the New Year.

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3. Focus on the family.

Family time is particularly important during the holidays, so I make sure to carve out plenty of that. I try to throttle back on my business commitments during the holiday season so I'm able to spend more time with my family. While I'm not always successful in throttling back my work--there are always deadlines to meet in my business--I do what I can to put less emphasis on my business, and more on those I love. Remember the old saying: No one on their deathbed wishes they had spent more time in the office. --The Leadership Guy

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4. Find the meaning.

There are endless productivity and planning tips that apply here. However, until you possess a healthy mindset around the holidays, they won't do much good. Recently, I met with a client who said he dreaded the obligatory family visits and traditions because they required too much time away from his business. Get your holiday policies and backup systems in place and then focus your attention on what's truly important: without the people you care about, your business and all of the hard work won't have much meaning anyway. --The Successful Soloist

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5. Use your time to get ahead.

Many people struggle to stay on task during the holiday season, but I do not. I love the holidays and the weekends because the flow of emails slows. While I do take some time to enjoy activities with my family, I use these down periods as an opportunity to catch up (or even get ahead).
Most people see these times as a break in business, but in reality, business never stops. I use the time others are away from the office as a way to prepare for the upcoming week. By inserting some working time throughout the weekend or the holiday, I am ready to tackle the week while others spend their Monday playing catch-up. --Lean Forward

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