Don’t Be a Scrooge: How to Manage Work During the Holidays

holiday giftsThis time of year brings reconnections with friends and family, opportunities to reflect and be thankful, and special events and celebrations. But the holiday season also means added obligations, last-minute preparations and a break in routine. If you’re anything like me, you may face a ramp up in stress as you try to keep up with your holiday responsibilities, manage your workload and enjoy some downtime, too.

While everyone who enjoys a holiday celebration this time of year has to manage a certain level of schedule changes and time juggling, the challenge can be amplified for those of us who own a business or are otherwise self-employed. Plus, the holidays add a new element of stress to the unique work-life balance battle already faced by those of us who work from home.

So what do you do? At the end of the day, we simply do the best we can, deal with the added stress and hope we successfully keep up with work. But it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Here are some ways to reduce your holiday stress level, make sure you stay on top of your priorities, and have some fun while you’re at it.

Plan Ahead

We’re in the crux of the holidays already, so this one may not be much help right now, but if you’re able to get ahead with work for a few weeks prior to a holiday, you’d be amazed how easy it is to reduce your stress level.

On a personal level, try to anticipate family obligations so you can work them into your planning. And again, get ahead wherever you can – there may be nothing more stress inducing than kicking off your gift shopping on Christmas Eve.

Say No

We want to do everything, be everywhere and make everyone happy during the holidays. And, of course, we want to maintain the same level of high quality work and responsiveness that our clients are used to when it comes to work. But it’s simply impossible to do it all. Decide what’s most important and say no to the rest.

With work, the last few weeks of the year is probably not the best time to kick off a huge client project. Delay the start until the New Year and use the time now for preparation – making sure you have all of the information you need for the project, working on a timeline, brainstorming, etc.

Let Go of “Perfect”

It’s no secret that I like perfection, or at least striving for it. There’s no time that can be harder on a perfectionist than the holidays, and nothing ever works out exactly as we plan. Now is the time to lower your expectations for the “perfect” holiday and be realistic about what’s doable in the amount of time you have available.

Give Yourself a Break

You work hard all year, and your clients appreciate it. But as your own boss, no one else is going to give you time off for good behavior. Give yourself permission to take a day off or start work late. If you fall behind on your RSS feeds for a few days, or skip your weekly email filing routine during the holidays, so what? And it’s okay to break your no-eating-over-the-computer rule to munch on those cookies while you’re working.

Remember the Point of All of This

When you get too caught up in the stress and trying to manage it all successfully, it’s easy to forget the joys of the season – reconnecting with friends and family, and taking time to reflect and be thankful for all that you have. Try to embrace the holiday stress and remember that this time only comes once a year…and your work will always be there tomorrow.

So, here’s wishing you and yours a healthy, happy and stress-free (or at least stress-reduced) holiday!

Image credit: Egilshay

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