The next few weeks are a huge time of celebration. Social gatherings, family gatherings, holiday parties and shopping all get in the way of getting things done. Often it's hard to get the day-to-day work done, let alone ending the books for the year and setting the New Year priorities.

Many people just give up on working hard in the holiday season. They check out a bit after Thanksgiving and just do what they have to survive through January, letting the chips fall where they may. But for a few smart people, this is the time to steam ahead and take advantage of everyone else's distraction. Here are their best practices.

1. Create a must-do list.

The holidays subtract roughly 100--150 hours from normal working time. Navigating the reduced work schedule can be frustrating. Super productive people know that this is the time to prioritize. They pick the tasks that are critical and set other people's expectations so they can deliver to satisfaction looking sane amongst the craziness.

2. Establish tangible objectives.

Holiday activities don't have to be only social or a waste of time. Super productive people make sure there is purpose in every activity. They think the event through in advance, determining the desired outcome and making it happen. When the objectives are complete or prove futile, they leave and conserve their time and energy.

3. Make valuable connections.

Important people can be hard to reach in their office as the holidays get going. Super productive people realize that with all the parties and events it's likely easier to get in contact with people they have been trying to reach for months. Of course, they don't try to finish all the business at once in the social environment. They just reconnect to be top of mind and set their schedule to follow up in January.

4. Build social capital.

It can be hard to get noticed in the everyday work environment. Super productive people use the holiday season to stand out and shine. There are many opportunities to gain notice, from party planning to charitable involvement. The more selfless the act, the more recognition is deserved and achieved.

5. Be selective with time.

Between the flowing alcohol and the promise of the New Year lots of people are generous with sharing big plans and exciting new ideas. Inspired leaders will push to get things going now. Super productive people understand that much of this brain-iating will fall away once people get back to work in January. They are loath to launch new projects at this time unless they know it will have sustainability and value. They will defend their resources, simply pointing out if the idea is great now, it will be better next year after careful consideration.

6. Demonstrate gratitude.

There are so many people who contribute, and rarely are they appreciated. Super productive people take advantage of the gift-giving season to show and tell their supporters how much they are appreciated. The right gesture can carry warm thoughts for months to come.

7. Release the tension.

There is plenty of stress throughout the year and this can easily be amplified in the holidays. Super productive people know that they are in control of their emotions. They purposefully establish a routine of relaxation so they can keep their blood pressure low and their morale high. That way they can truly enjoy the spirit of the holidays.