Holidays are special times of year when we gather with loved ones to remember the past, show gratitude for the present, and to hope for the future. They can also be tremendously stressful for all the same reasons: the past can be painful, the present full of demands, and the future disturbingly uncertain. Layer on top family dynamics and cultural demands such as gifting or the gendered performance of traditions, and it’s no wonder that many people approach holidays with a mix of joy and dread. Through it all, managers must keep managing and deadlines must continue to be met. Workplace strategies for surviving – and thriving despite – holiday stress begin long before the first gift is wrapped or the first candle is lit. Here’s how.
Carve out designated time during the holidays.
Whether you want to finish up your last-minute Christmas shopping, spend time with your grandmother, or finish up a work project before the New Year, here are some tips to achieve a better work-life balance near the end of the year:
Designate blocks of time to spend with loved ones.
If you can’t afford the time to spend an entire day (or trip) with friends and family, create dedicated spaces in your schedule to be with them–even if for just a few hours. Treat those times just like you would an important meeting or investor pitch so that no excuses can lead to canceling or interrupting your time together. This dedicated “block time” will also help you to fully immerse and enjoy your time together, rather than being distracted and not “totally there.” At the end of this quality time, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to re-focus on your projects or tasks at hand.
Choose moments for downtime amidst hectic activities.
With so many activities pulling us in a million different directions during the holidays, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose steam altogether. Because of this, I take short breaks away from the hustle and bustle to re-group and clear my mind. It doesn’t matter where I am–in a hotel powder room, a dressing room, or a quiet café–taking five to ten minutes always helps me to refresh and go back to my activities with better focus and a renewed sense of purpose.
Plan your work
As much as working in advance is necessary, planning your work in detail over holidays is very important for your work-life balance. Set priorities and plan specific tasks and things you want to work on, and when. To do so, make sure you talk about it with your relatives so they can also give you their expectations on when you can and cannot work.Make an agreement with them and tell them when you’ll work so they don’t hold a grudge against you for not caring about family time! This is a good way for them to also realize that you value your work-life balance, that way you won’t get all those questions on how much you’re working or neglecting them.
Be satisfied with “good enough” during the holidays (80-20 rule).
And now that you’re done with your work, be happy with it. Most passionate people are perfectionists; and if you’re passionate about your job, there’s a good chance you’re a perfectionist at work. But being a perfectionist usually makes you put in a lot of extra efforts in a task, which causes additional stress. Even if it’s a trait you might not want to work on in the rest of the year, you might want to give “good enough” a try when you’re on holiday. After all, if you’re working over the holidays, you have no obligation to be perfect. Finally, as the 80-20 rule suggests – 80% of your results will be produced by 20% of your efforts – holiday time seems to be a good moment to be happy with those 80%!