With Christmas fast-approaching, we are reminded in every shop that this is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’- but it can also be the most stressful.
We’ve compiled a simple guide to navigating your work schedule over the festive season, and avoiding being overwhelmed by all the inevitable personal and professional commitments that come with it.
Don’t be distracted
It’s all too easy to get absorbed in the vibe of the holiday season and forget to focus on ‘today’. If today isn’t a holiday, then it shouldn’t feel like one. Remind yourself that today is a work day and resist the temptation to multi-task on personal errands or get distracted by festive office events.
We know how tempting it is to ‘just check’ the travel route up to your grandma’s house, or to spend five minutes browsing that shopping website so you can tick your cousin off your present list, but interruptions like these end up cutting into your day significantly and reduce your productivity as a result. Instead, try to keep your work at work and your personal life at home. Not only will this prevent you from becoming overloaded with unfinished deadlines in the week before you leave the office, but it will also give your mind a much-needed rest by removing the unnecessary pressure of feeling that you have to do everything all at once.
Research has shown that regular 10-minute breaks can boost efficiency and re-energise you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the workload in the run up to Christmas, don’t spend all your free time trying to catch up. Take a breath and schedule in plenty of breaks. Cramming everything together or working overtime can affect the quality of your output, as well as shooting your stress levels through the roof.
It may also be a good idea to set a day aside just for errands. Between family get-togethers and holiday shopping, you’ll no doubt find your personal calendar quickly encroaching on your work life during the holiday season. Taking a day out for all the domestic and personal holiday preparations will allow you to focus 100% of your energy on work while you’re there.
Prepare in advance
The good thing about the Christmas holidays is that you can see them coming. This means that you can start working on end of year projects and personal tasks early. Start your holiday shopping earlier than you have in the past, and get a head start on any upcoming projects at work; you’ll find that you have far fewer to-do items on your list when Christmas finally comes around.
As well as giving you peace of mind, this forethought will also give you the opportunity to use Christmas as a time to get ahead at work. Many people are away around the Xmas period, and others are distracted. With fewer expectations from your colleagues you can get on with those tasks that you’ve had on the backburner for so long. If you can manage to maintain focus and continue to total your workload, your employability will double and you’ll stand out in the workplace.
Organise your time
Because of all the competing demands on your time over the holiday period, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. This causes many people to lose focus and feel stressed. Stress affects productivity levels, which in turn leads to more stress!
It is worth taking 30 minutes at the beginning of each week to sit down and plan what you want to achieve in the coming days. Create your to-do list and prioritise tasks, moving all non-urgent jobs to after the New Year. Get your tasks and projects, both personal and professional, into a digital or paper system and out of your head. The psychological relief that comes with clearing out all this mental clutter should not be underestimated. You’ll be able to look forward to your holidays with enthusiasm as well as feeling more energised to accomplish the most immediate tasks.
With all the family get-togethers, client events and office parties, it can be difficult to stay focused on work. Don’t feel as though you have to go to each and every department lunch or office party you get invited to. Keeping on top of your work and maintaining a good life-work balance sometimes means saying no.
The most important thing to remember about managing holiday invites is to be intentional. Prioritise the events that you consider to be the most necessary to your goals. Accepting an invitation simply to avoid hurting someone’s feelings is counter-intuitive and could lead to you being burnt out and unable to enjoy valuable time with your family.