• Mon, Nov 21 2011

How To Stay On Top Of Your Work During The Busy Holiday Season

Work life balance is always a struggle, but the holiday season presents its own certain brand of stress for those of us trying to juggle a successful career and an involved family. From November to January, there seems to be little time available to stay late at the office or finish up a project over the weekend. Even our lunch breaks are filled with quick errands and shopping trips. It’s a social time of year and everyone wants to be able to enjoy their friends and family.

 The snow feels new and crisp instead of obnoxious and slushy. It’s just begging us to step out of that office and onto the street. You can pretend that you’re running to get a peppermint mocha because you need the caffeine, but we all know that it’s just nice to be bundled up in a hat and scarf, walking through the snow. ‘Tis the season for holiday cheer, after all.

Unfortunately, our jobs don’t take a six-week break while we walk around with our warm fuzzies. In fact, for many people, the end of the year is pretty hectic. Not just retail workers, for whom we should all feel a tremendous amount of sympathy in the next month, but any company that ends their fiscal year in December or January has plenty of work on their hands. So how do we stay on top of our demanding jobs while all that lovely holiday spirit is tempting us to cut out of work early for shopping trips and drinking celebrating a little more than normal at all those company cocktail parties?

  • Prioritize that to-do list. What has to be done now? If there’s a new project that won’t be discussed until after the new year, put it on hold, no matter how excited you are. Try to focus on the things that have to be completed in the next six weeks. You can worry about everything else after the ball has dropped and your social commitments have returned to a sustainable level.
  • Plan out your holidays. Get your game face on and apply some your business mindset to the holiday rush. Make your schedule is detailed and complete. Write out prep lists, so that you remember what you have to bring to certain engagements or errands that need run before you throw your own get together. Create a gift-giving budget, so that you won’t get overwhelmed by all the extra costs. Write out your present ideas for each special person in your life and cross them off the list once you’ve gotten their gift together. Attacking your social obligations in the same way that you would attack a hectic work week will make you feel more prepared and less stressed.
  • Give yourself a break. During the holiday hustle, it’s easy to spend every waking second working or socializing. Try to carve out a little personal time. Most people need at least one evening a week to stay home, recharge and appreciate all those beautiful holiday decorations that you hopefully had time to put up.
  • Outsource. Busy professionals know how to delegate. With professional shoppers, complimentary gift-wrapping and party-planning services, there is a lot of help available for those of us who can’t take time off to bring holiday cheer. Don’t worry, enlisting a little help doesn’t make you The Grinch.
  • Keep your office all-business. I realize that decorating the office for the holidays is often a company tradition. In common areas, go for it. But in your personal space, it might be helpful to leave out the tinsel. The hardest part of working through the holidays is often the distractions that they bring. Keeping your workspace completely focused on the project at hand might make it easier to concentrate.
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