When the holiday season rolls around, it can be difficult to stay on top of things. Between keeping track of wish lists, baking, and watching the never-ending stream of seasonal movies on the Hallmark channel, you might find yourself struggling to stay focused on anything, nevermind some boring work projects. 

It’s still October, so you still have time to get ahead of things before the holiday rush truly begins. Here are some suggestions to help you get started.

Tame Your Inbox

Are there about five million emails in your inbox competing for your attention every day? Have you opted against any sort of organization of your electronic mail? Do you wade through countless newsletters that you never open? It’s time to tame the beast.

It can definitely feel overwhelming to get started and you might even feel like it’s a waste of time—but it’s not. Dedicate a couple of hours of your schedule to addressing your email situation and stick with it. Respond to people who have been waiting a long time to hear back from you, unsubscribe to mailing lists you no longer care about, and create folders to keep track of everything else.

If you want to get extra fancy, use a free service such as Unroll.me to keep things tidy moving forward. This tool allows you to determine how certain types of messages are handled and will generate a digest of things, such as promotional emails, so that it’s easy to scroll through. It’s a real time saver (which is important since those gingerbread cookies aren’t going to eat themselves)!

Get Your Files In Order

If you don’t have a file cabinet or a similar way of storing and organizing important paperwork, this is a great time to invest in one. If you already have one but your papers and file folders are all over the place, devote some time to getting things in order.

It’s very frustrating when you need an important document but can’t find it. It’s absolutely devastating to know it’s at the bottom of the pile on your desk as you watch your spilled coffee destroying it. It’s better to take things out when you need them and put them back as soon as you’re done.

An even better option is to scan papers and store them on a secure cloud-based server. To be proactive, find out if you can take advantage of paperless solutions. Have your bills, receipts (makes returning bad holiday gifts a cinch!), legal documents, and more delivered straight to your freshly organized inbox!

Clean Up Your Desk

If you work at a desk, you already know that it can quickly become its own ecosystem. Your drawers may be filled with office supplies but may also contain things like deodorant, pain reliever, macadamia nuts, used gift cards… the list goes on and on.

On top of that, if you eat or drink at your desk, you may be willfully ignoring crumbs from cookies you ate a month ago and remnants from the spilled coffee that destroyed the documents yesterday. Stop the madness!

Grab a garbage bag and hunt down all the pens that no longer work but, for whatever reason, you refuse to throw away. Gather all the trash (is that a picture of your ex all the way at the back of that drawer?) and set yourself free. Then, wipe everything down, including your computer screen and keyboard. Doesn’t that feel good?

Making these small changes won’t necessarily reduce your workload but being better organized can make things easier. Putting effort into cleaning things up can help you feel more in control of your work life so that you can relax and enjoy this festive time of year. It’s worth it!