Like clockwork, around the second week of December, I begin to hear the same frustrations, “I still have all of my shopping to do. I haven’t sent out cards or decorated my house and I have a year-end project due at work. Every holiday season, it’s the same nightmare.” Well, not this year.
During my recent appearance on Maggie Mistal’s Martha Stewart Network XM/SIRIUS radio show, I talked about how to start your holiday work+life fit planning…now! I promise, if you do, you’ll be less stressed out and frazzled. And, we could all use as much relaxed cheer as possible. Follow these three steps to put as much joy and as little stress into your holiday work+life fit as possible(by the way, I just did them myself):
Remember, it’s not just about time management. It’s about managing your time, energy and definitions of success. Let’s start with…
Time: Take out your calendar. Go to January 1, 2011 and work backwards. Is New Year’s Eve important to you? Do you want to celebrate it? If yes, how? Do you need a sitter? If yes, start making calls to teenagers now, because they get busy. Make reservations at your favorite restaurant or invite friends over.
Then move to December. What holidays do you celebrate? Mark them on your calendar. Do you want vacation? If yes, when? Put in your request for vacation now and start to coordinate with teammates and clients to ensure they know your plans and offer to cover for each other.
Now add October and November to the big holiday work+life fit picture. Are there year-end work-related deadlines that you can count on? If yes, start to plan them into your schedule now so you can minimize last minute fire drills that can suck the joy right out of the season.
Think about what you want to accomplish related to the holidays. What’s important to you? Buying presents within a particular budget? Baking cookies? Seeing friends? Decorating your house? Sending cards? Start to block off days you want to devote to these tasks. The earlier, the better. This is especially true if you want to avoid budget-busting last minute shopping. Why wait?
Energy: Tired, distracted, overwhelmed, stressed. These are the words we use too often to describe how we feel over the holidays. And that’s because we aren’t optimizing our energy by building downtime into our holiday work+life fit. Block off a few hours here and there to just relax even if you feel you “should” be doing something. Watch football or read a book, but mark it down in advance or it won’t happen because there are even more demands pulling you every which way over the holidays. Just rest.
Definitions of Success: This is a biggie, especially for women. When I was growing up, my mother baked delicious, wonderful cookies of all shapes and sizes during the holidays. For many years, I felt bad that I didn’t. But ultimately I gave that up and found the Pillsbury pre-made dough that I roll out and decorate with my children. They love it. Done.
Ask yourself, what really matters to you, your family and friends? I LOVE giving and receiving holiday cards. But I want to take my time filling out those we send and reading the ones we get, so I need to plan in advance. But I don’t really care about fancy entertaining (although I sometimes fantasize about it). A casual get-together with close friends and family is perfect and truthfully all I can manage without overload.
So, map out your holiday work+life fit today. Bring more joy (and less stress) to this season by optimizing your time, energy and definitions of success over the next three months at work and in the other parts of your life. There’s no better gift you can possibly give yourself…and everyone else around you.
How do you manage the fit between work and the other parts of your life to be as joyful and stressfree as possible over the holidays? When do you start planning?