The holiday season and family go hand in hand. This year, with Christmas and New Year’s days falling on Fridays, we have more time than ever to enjoy the holidays. But what happens if you have to add work into the mix? How do you find time to put the finishing touches on that PowerPoint and trim the tree? Here are a few tips to consider to make it a little smoother if you’re working during the holidays.
1. Don’t feel obligated to work from home.
This may sound like strange advice because working from home is such an advantage and promote flexibility, but it doesn’t always make sense when there are family members and guests milling about. There is a reason that so many parents of young children actually prefer going to an office each day, even while they have in-home childcare. During the holidays, it may make more sense to head to work early in the morning, work a solid five or six hours without interruption, and make it home in time for a late lunch. Most people that are in the office aren’t interested in scheduling meetings in the late afternoon during the week of Christmas, so this is entirely possible. When you’re at home, you can relax and just be there.
2. Working from home? Separate yourself from everyone.
If you do decide to work from home, create physical separation between you and your family during working hours. Don’t respond to emails from the kitchen table, or try to field a call while decorating Christmas cookies. You’ll get frustrated that there are so many distractions and your family won’t take your “working from home” status as legitimate. Instead, hole up in your office, or pack up your computer and hit your favorite (albeit crowded) coffee shop to get your work done.
3. Set reasonable goals on what you’ll get done each day.
It’s easy to decide to just monitor emails and not do anything sizeable, but this is the best time to tackle some more serious projects at work, like things that take concentration and solitude. Decide on one major project that you will work on for one to two hours (uninterrupted) each day, like your self-evaluation for your performance review, or proof reading that white paper. Then, dedicate the rest of your workday to monitoring email and responding in case of emergency only.
4. Create a “respond after the holidays” folder for your email.
Don’t bother responding to everything in your inbox. So many people will be out on official vacation, there is no point responding now and having your email buried at the bottom of their inbox. Instead, write your response and put it in a draft folder. On the first Monday after the holidays, browse through your folder and send out the drafts that are still relevant.
5. Don’t host major meals or parties.
Let your friends and family take over on this one. If you’re providing the venue for the annual New Year’s Eve gathering, let someone else do the menu planning and cooking. Or, ask guests to organize a potluck or find a great caterer. It’s ok to ask for help with clean up too – it’s an inevitable part of any celebration.
6. Be fanatic about boundaries.
If there ever was a time to be strict about your boundaries – this is it. Don’t stay connected after hours, and refuse calls on holidays and weekends. If you absolutely must work during this time (e.g. you’re on call for your team, or you have patients with an emergency), try to attend to what’s needed and immediately shut down after you’ve taken care of it. It’s easy to get sucked into email or other activities once you start dealing with work, but try to avoid it so that you can still enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.
7. Take your vacation.
It’s not often six days of vacation results in 16 continuous days off. Take advantage of it and if you have vacation left, take it! Refresh, recharge, and spend undistracted quality time with your family. When’s the last time you were able to do that?
Featured photo credit: santa-claus/ Steve Wilson via flickr.com
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