With the festive season just around the corner the added stress of the many preparations and celebrations can have a negative impact on the regular day to day pressures of our working lives. Suddenly there's a heap of extra plans to be taken care of, both at work and at home, yet understandably your manager will not be happy if a task or project goes unfinished just because one of the busiest holiday seasons is coming up fast around the corner.
Today I thought I'd share some advice for navigating the hectic holiday season. Ways to integrate work and life, get everything done and try to stay sane in the process. It does take a little aforethought. Learning to balance the right amount of proactivity with knowing when to stop, defining what really needs doing and understanding what can wait.
So put that superhero costume back in the cupboard for now and give yourself a break. Don't wind yourself down to the ground for the sake of the busy little month we call December!
6 STEPS FOR KEEPING STRESS AT BAY OVER THE HOLIDAY SEASON
1. Don't Leave Everything To The Last Minute, Pace Yourself.
I hold my hands up at being the world's biggest procrastinator from time to time. Ironically of course this seems to kick in the most at times when I suddenly have a lot on my plate. Start thinking now about what the next few weeks are going to be like in terms of work commitments and deadlines, as well as extra curricular activities you may want to be involved in. Move on to making a plan of action. Leaving things to the last minute is always a plan to fail and adds unwanted stress. Yes it may carve a little into your relaxing weekend now but spreading the workload out over time and planning ahead will ultimately reward you far better in the long run. This is the time of year where it may be necessary, and is actually very useful to integrate work and life as much as possible to get stuff done!
2. Make A List Of EVERYTHING That You Think Needs Doing.
I'm back again with the lists aren't I! But this time of year, more than any, is the time when your list writing action must go into full productivity mode. Take a piece of paper and a pen and sit and list literally everything that comes to mind that you know or feel needs doing over the next few weeks. I mean everything no matter how big, small, important or totally irrelevant. All those bits that are slowing your brain down by rolling around in your head. List, list and list again.
3. Highlight The Non-Negotiables And Set Them Into Action.
Time to be really pragmatic here. What do you really, REALLY have to do? Highlight these or bold them in some way. Then go back through again and cull anything further that in all honesty can wait a little longer. What you are left with are your totally non-negotiables, the things that are highly important and completely time sensitive, the items you must action now and prioritise above all else. Action them and don't dwell on other unnecessary distractions.
4. Be Honest About The Things You'd Like To Do But That Aren't Completely Necessary. Scrap These Items NOW!
We all have things we'd like to do, that would enhance our working or daily lives, and probably even things we would prefer to do than that which we have to do. In reality at this time of year all those little additions and pressures that you put on yourself are just going to drag you right down. Scrap these now and don't give them a second thought. If you manage to complete all your non-negotiables with time to spare then perhaps revisit these additional tasks then. Until that point be strict with yourself and just let them go.
5. Focus On Solutions Not Problems.
So often we put off the most important things because they are also the most difficult and time consuming items to complete. We let ourselves get distracted and waste time in an attempt to avoid finding a solution to the bigger problem and more urgent task that we face. This leads into a downward spiral, where the task becomes more critical, and the associated problem becomes more and more daunting.
I've faced this situation many times in the past. However sitting down and focusing on finding a solution, working out the anticipated outcome, how to get there and then actioning it, always ends up far more rewarding in the end. The sense of relief is palpable when you can finally tick that awkward task off of your to do list.
Think about other ways to approach a difficult project or item on your list. Is there someone who can help or advise you? Are you looking at it wrong, perhaps making it far more complicated than it needs to be? Or are you just avoiding it because it's just not something you enjoy doing?
If you can just make a start you'll so often find that it's easier than it seems or more solvable than you thought. Be brave, go forward and conquer it!
6. Switch Off And Reboot.
Starting to feel frazzled? The list isn't working because you still can't stop thinking of all the things that are on it that you need to get done? The solutions just aren't coming your way and you're still in a fog? You sit down to crack on but you just can't focus?
Step back and breathe.
You have to allow yourself breaks, even when it's crazy busy. Enable a moment here and there to switch off even if it's just so you can clear your mind, reboot and set off into motion again. This is ok, don't be afraid to relax. Get some air, walk, allow yourself a moment away from all of the activity. Allocate your time wisely and don't be afraid to say no to things when you just can't squeeze in anymore.
The world will keep on turning but if you burn out you'll be no use to yourself or to anyone, at work or at home, so don't be afraid to put your foot on the break for a second. Collect your thoughts and then continue when you're in a better place to focus clearly on the task in hand.
I hope that some of this advice helps anyone buckling under the upcoming Christmas strain. What do you do to keep yourself on track during the holiday season? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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