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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 March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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