Build a Bunker and Dodge Your In-Laws This Holiday Season

The holidays sure know how to disrupt your daily routine. Between parties, shopping, end-of-year deadlines and out-of-town visitors, there’s no shortage of wrenches waiting to be thrown into our productivity.

Whenever your productivity is threatened, you should have a place to turn to that will shelter you from any disruption. In our world, these productivity-safe-spaces are called bunkers. It’s a little spot that you can call your own. They contain all of the provisions you need to survive while waiting out even the most heinous distractions, and encourage us to focus on what matters most.

It doesn’t matter if your bunker is in an office or in a home, if you want to have a few moments of uninterrupted focus these holidays, you’re going to need one. If you don’t have all the time in the world to build a fortress, don’t worry. Follow the four steps below to create an adequate bunker as quickly as possible.

1. Create Time

Having a bunker doesn’t do us any good if we only use it when our energy is at its lowest point, or if it’s during a time that we simply can’t control.

So whether you’re working from home or trying to send out your holiday cards, it’s important that you use your bunker in the hours that are most effective for you. For most of us, these are the first two hours after we wake up. Our minds are fresh and our motivation is uninterrupted. Because the holidays are a busy time, with family becoming reacquainted, it’s even more important to find time for yourself. This may mean getting up earlier than usual.

Many successful people have found that 4:00am is the ideal time to get up and ensure that your most important tasks get done. Whether that’s running, writing, or meditating, accomplish your ONE Thing that will start your day off on the most productive track. The time alone is a safe haven from the steady drip of new emails and phone calls that pour in throughout regular work hours.

Not everyone is early to bed, early to rise though. So it’ll be important to figure out what time works best for you. The most important thing is to find a block of time that you control, and to treat it like an appointment with yourself.

If you’re hosting family this season (or if you are the guest!), you may feel guilty that you’re not constantly “plugged in” or available. While anyone close to you should understand and respect your goals and schedule, it can help to make some time for fun activities as well. Block off time for work, but let everyone know when you all plan to go to the holiday market, or take a drive around the neighborhood to look at lights. Even seeing a movie can be a group activity. Knowing that something fun is planned for later can relieve the pressures of entertaining, giving you full peace of mind to continue tackling your ONE Thing.

2. Find Space

It’s important to find the kind of space that works best for you and to protect it fiercely. Perhaps your productivity increases with other people present (this phenomenon, the audience effect, is tried and true). In that case, head to a coffee shop, where strangers and the din of a public space will get your wheels turning. Concentration is contagious, and sneaking away to a public space for even a short while can help you accomplish more than you would at home with family.

Perhaps you need silence and solitude. If you don’t have a home office, there are plenty of other ways to build your bunker. If you’ve chosen to rise early enough, the whole house is your quiet office for a set period. If, however, your productive hours coincide with other household noise, do your best to physically separate yourself. Try to find a bedroom or den where you can close the door (or at the very least, put up a changing shade). Heck, you might even find your bunker in a park somewhere in town.

It goes without saying that your bunker should be distraction free. Eliminate email notifications, or turn your phone to silent. Some people prefer noise cancelling headphones, while others like a white noise machine. Like we mentioned in the point above, when you know what works best for you, everything becomes easier.

3. Send the Right Signals

What good is a fortress of solitude if enemies are trying to bust through the gate? The enemies of your bunker, unfortunately, are oftentimes your loved ones, and they don’t mean any harm by wanting to spend time with you. Therefore, it’s important to communicate clearly with everyone in the house about your plans. Let your in-laws know ahead of time when your work hours are and where you will be. Create “Do Not Disturb” or “Quiet” signs for your door. Do whatever you can to pleasantly signal to others that you need some time to yourself.

If you have children in the house, you can make it a bit of a game. CEO of a work-at-home call center, John Meyer (not the musician), makes a stoplight out of construction paper. He explains:

Tape the red light up when you cannot be disturbed and the green light when it’s OK to come in. Yellow light means to check first. Kids, no matter what age, understand the message and enjoy playing along.

If you’re in a public place, universal cues that say “do not bother me” are quiet effective. Facing the wall instead of the public lowers the possibility of accidental eye-contact. Putting in headphones, even if nothing is playing, can tell others around you that you’re working. It can even be a cue for yourself that you’re ready to work.

The key here is not to be afraid to let others know that you need time for yourself. People often don’t knowingly distract others, and if they’re aware you’re in your bunker, they’ll respect that.

4. Check your Goals

It’s so easy to fall prey to the holiday season, getting swept up from Thanksgiving to New Years in sweets, parties, presents and traveling. Try to check in on your goals as often as you can. It can be something simple like writing your ONE Thing on a sticky note in your bathroom, or it can be remembering to meditate every day — anything that makes you check back in with yourself or your goals is beneficial.

The holiday season is wonderful, but don’t let your goals or productivity fall victim to this time of year. Remember: unwind, don’t unravel!

Have any greats tricks for creating an at-home bunker? Let us know on our Facebook page!