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7 Tips to Manage Family When Working During the Holidays

7 Tips to Manage Family When Working During the Holidays

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Featured photo credit: santa-claus/ Steve Wilson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 20, 2020

What Are Analytical Skills (And How to Strengthen Them For Success)

What Are Analytical Skills (And How to Strengthen Them For Success)

Everybody makes bad decisions. Some people, however, are more capable of making better decisions that inch them closer to success.

These individuals are not ruled by emotions, desires, or hunches. Rather, they depend on their analytical skills to overcome challenges regardless of urgency or complexity.

What Are Analytical Skills?

According to Richards J. Heuer Jr., a former veteran of the CIA,[1]

“Thinking analytically is a skill like carpentry or driving a car. It can be taught, it can be learned, and it can improve with practice. But unlike other skills, it is not learned by sitting in a classroom and being told how to do it. Analysts learn by doing.”

Analytical skills can be considered as one of the critical life skills that are not taught in schools. It comprises of visualization, critical thinking, and abilities for gathering and processing information.

Here’s a closer look at some of these abilities:

Visualization

Also tied to a person’s creativity, visualization is the ability to predict the possible outcomes of strategies and actions. In a professional setting, visualization involves the analysis of data – often through illustrations like charts, graphs, and detailed lists.

Critical Thinking

Simply put, a person’s ability to think critically can be measured by his or her consistency in creating reasonable decisions. It pertains to the ability to evaluate information, siphon what’s useful, and draw conclusions without being swayed by emotions.

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As a critical thinker, you’ll find yourself challenging assertions and finding loopholes in proposed solutions.

Computing

Whether you like it or not, you need to be comfortable with numbers if you want to sharpen your analytical skills. Bear in mind that computing encompasses other skills like cost analysis, budgeting, and performing general calculations.

In business, you need to use computations when weighing the risks and benefits of any given strategy.

Problem-Solving

Remember that analytical skills are used not just to understand problems, but also to develop the most suitable course or courses of action. This relates to your goal-setting skills, which involve breaking down and prioritizing between objectives.

Resource Management

Lastly, analytical skills involve some degree of resource management depending on the task at hand.

For example, professionals with a tight schedule must know how to effectively manage their own time – also known as one of the most important resources in the world.

Business leaders, on the other hand, must know how to manage company resources, including cash and manpower. Take note that the definition of analytical skills may change to match the requirements of a specific situation.

For example, upon hiring a web developer, analytical skills may refer to the ability to determine the needs of online users, understand web analytics for optimization, and identify visual elements that can match a company’s brand.

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The skillset above, however, should be applicable in most if not all scenarios.

Develop Your Analytical Skills for More Growth Opportunities

There’s no question that the right decisions lead to positive results. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a business or simply trying to climb the corporate ladder. By training your analytical skills, you position yourself for more growth opportunities while staying away from negligible actions you will regret.

For example, you plan to launch a new startup in your local community – but struggle to decide the niche you want to enter. Since you’ve been a technophile your whole life, part of you desires to invest in a gadget store. If you’re passionate about your business, success will come – right?

If you have sharp analytical skills, you begin to see your plans in whole new dimensions.

What are the possible outcomes of this venture? Does the local market have a need for a new gadget store? How much do I need to get started – and how much should I sell to make a profit?

Depending on your findings, you can determine the feasibility of your business idea without letting your emotions get in the way.

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Analytical Skills

There are several approaches when it comes to developing an individual’s analytical skills. For instance, psychologists agree that reading fantasy stories as a child can help sharpen critical thinking.[2]

Research also suggests that undergoing traditional education has a positive effect on a person’s IQ and analytical skills.[3]

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But as an adult, such opportunities to hone your analytical skills no longer apply. That’s why you need to devise a more deliberate, active approach yourself.

Below are a few strategies to get you started:

1. Ideate Business Ideas

Developing a profitable business idea, whether you pursue them or not, involves numerous challenges. You need a ton of research, computations, and problem-solving to create a tangible business plan.

You can organize your ideas with a note-taking tool like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. Doing so will allow you to delve deeper into your analysis, organize your findings, and stay focused on roadblocks as well as how to solve them.

2. Leverage Analytical Tools

Aside from note-taking tools, you can also leverage other software that can help with analytical tasks. A money management app like Mint, for example, makes it easy to track your spending habits as well as manage your budget with visual tools. When it comes to prioritizing goals, you can use simple task management apps like Trello or Wunderlist.

3. Have a Personal Learning Library

Thanks to the internet, there’s a colossal amount of resources you can utilize to learn new skills, expand your vocabulary, and train your visualization muscles.

Social media networks like SlideShare and YouTube, for example, offer mountains of tutorials you can access to your heart’s content.

For a personalized learning library, you can download Instagram videos or GIFs from educational accounts like NASA Goddard and the American Mathematical Society. But if you prefer specific, technical skills, then a good place to start would be online learning platforms like Coursera, edX, and Alison.

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4. Participate in Online Communities

The internet is a great place to share experiences, opinions, and sometimes intellectual discussions with like-minded individuals. Reddit, for example, has a place or “subreddit” dedicated for every topic imaginable – from technology to entrepreneurship.

For structured debates, you can head to websites like Debate.org and let other users choose the winner via votes.

5. Seek Mental Stimulation

To keep your mind sharp, make it a habit to engage in mentally stimulating activities, such as chess, puzzles, and brain training apps. A great resource would be Lumosity, which contains dozens of cognitive games designed by teams of scientists and game designers.

6. Keep a Personal Journal

Finally, keeping a personal journal allows you to take a second look at everything that happened in your day.

Remember that writing about learning experiences lets you focus on the lesson rather than the emotion. It will help you analyze how you made your decisions, why you came to certain conclusions, and what you can do to improve in the future.

Here’s How to Create a Habit of Writing in a Journal.

Bottom Line

As an adult, you are required to face a myriad of challenges on a daily basis. Work, school, business, relationships – the list goes on when it comes to the sources of life’s problems. With analytical skills, you can confront and overcome any obstacle standing between you and your goals.

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Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] M. S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences: Analytical Thinking?
[2] KD Novelties: Why You Should Read Classic Tales to Your Children
[3] Economic Inquiry: The Effect of Education on Cognitive Ability

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