It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… And whilst we can’t help getting into the festive spirit, for many of us this is an incredibly stressful time of year. In addition to the pressures of work, the holidays bring a whole host of distractions that many of us could do without when we’re trying to get some work done. Holiday stress is a very real phenomenon whereby some people find that the obligations and burdens of family traditions and expectations bring on anxiety, especially when added on to work pressures and expectations. Nowadays our work lives overlap with our personal lives and it can be difficult to manage it all at this time of year, particularly for entrepreneurs and small businesses owners with a business to keep running.
But it’s not all bah humbug. Spending time with family and friends and enjoying the merriment of the season is very important. Which is why the little elves at MY PA wanted to bring you an early Christmas gift of top tips to help you get the work done and have a stress-free holiday with the people you love.
1. Write it all down
Balancing your work and time with family and friends during the holidays becomes so much easier if everything is written down into a master plan. Begin each day by writing down the events, meetings and social engagements into a day planner. Then allocate time periods for each of your tasks, include the work ones and the non-work ones – if you need to buy and wrap presents or write Christmas cards, make sure this is included in your planner with a realistic time window. When you’ve written everything down, you know what to expect and managing your time and staying productive at work becomes easier. You are bound to get work done faster than if you would without a plan.
2. Prioritise and delegate
Every little item on your to-do list, from sending a Christmas tweet to your company’s followers, to buying a holiday wreath, can add stress. The golden rule for work-life balance is to cut down on the things you yourself have to do. Look at the deadlines and importance of the items on your list and work out what the priorities are. Work out the items that you have to do yourself and those that could potentially be managed by another person, whether a colleague, family member (or even a virtual personal assistant!) If your business needs your attention and you need to do some Christmas shopping, be smart and save time by doing your shopping online during your lunch break and then forget about it. Keep a small notebook handy and tally the gifts that you’ve purchased for everyone. This will keep you organized and make sure you’ve missed no one out.
3. Don’t bring you work home
Leave all your work-related worries at work when you leave the office and return home. Holidays are about spending quality time with your loved ones and unwinding. If there is work that you know will be waiting for you on your return and cant be dealt with sooner, don’t let yourself think about it until you get back to your workplace. You should be free to enjoy yourself with your family when you’re at home during the holidays. Work will be more efficient when you get back after this short break.
4. And don’t bring your holiday worries to work
In order to ensure you can switch off completely during the holidays, you have to be strict with yourself before you leave and make sure your mind is 100% focused on the job. If you’ve made a master plan as per point one, you shouldn’t have to think about the little things such as gift choices, or outfit options, you should have time set aside for trying/choosing outfits, buying presents and everything else! If you try to juggle it all without a plan you’ll find the distractions eating into your productivity in a huge way – we’re only human after all.
5. Plan ahead
If there are tasks that can be done in advance, try to do them well in advance. If you find yourself shopping for twenty people mid-December each year, start your gift-shopping a week earlier and take the lunch hour of each day to go and buy something for one of them. Wrap it (and send if necessary) the same day and you will find yourself being a lot more efficient than if you put things off.
6. Make the work fun!
It won’t feel so much like work if you enjoy what you do! If you do have a busy work period at the same time, don’t just ask your team to work longer hours as unhappy workers will not always get the job done in less time. If you can’t help but be at work during the festive period, at least try to enjoy it with your team and make the work less of a burden. You can do this by sharing a meal together – head out for lunch, order in some pizza, ask each team member to bring something in, or organise catering. This will lift the mood and make your team feel more connected. This will, in turn, mean more efficient work.
With a few simple tweaks to your routine that enable you to be more efficient and organized during the holiday season, you will find that you work more efficiently and therefore need to work less, meaning that you can enjoy time with loved ones without letting the business suffer.
Have a great holiday everyone!