The holiday season has arrived, and while it may be called the most wonderful time of the year, it can sometimes feel impossible to find time to breathe. Between family gatherings, work parties, travel and business responsibilities, many professionals don’t get much of a chance to enjoy the season.
No matter how busy you are, though, your schedule shouldn’t stop you from celebrating. We asked a panel of Forbes Coaches Council experts how to balance your work priorities while still taking much-needed time off during the holidays. Their best answers are below.
1. Map Out The Rest Of The Year
Holidays are a time of stress for many. It is also a time to recharge and refresh. Now that we are in the last month of the year, take time to map out the rest of your year. What major activities do you have at work and at home? Designate when you want to accomplish them and try to factor in holiday time around them. Try to leave December open as much as possible to focus on recharging. – Tony Mickle, Big Box Coaching
2. Make Choices And Accept The Consequences
When we’re trying to “balance” our time, we’re really choosing nothing. If you want to take time off, take it fully — don’t kid yourself that “just one” conference call or email session makes a difference. Or, if what’s happening at work is the most important thing, decide when you’ll be available, and accept the consequences. Conflicts happen — and stress results — when we fail to choose. – Darcy Eikenberg, Red Cape Revolution
3. Plan Your Tasks According To Your Most Productive Work Times
We don’t “live to work.” We work to live. The holidays are wonderful to create memories with our loved ones, myself included. Be disciplined and focused during the times you commit to working. Prioritize your commitments and know when you have the most energy. I am a morning person, so I get four times the amount of work done then. Accomplish your goals so you can be present when it counts. – Stephanie Vaughan, One Source Coaching
4. Celebrate The Small Successes
If you lead teams, running hard into a calendar destination like a holiday exhausts people. “Let’s go hard and take a break around the holiday” is not a great, motivational battle cry. A “let’s hit our numbers this month and take a Friday to celebrate” mindset sure helps to motivate the troops on the way. Celebrating and taking time out for small successes ensures the bigger wins. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
5. Block Everything Out On Your Calendar
At all times, and especially during holidays, use your calendar as your friend. Write in “family time” or “me time” as you would appointments. Delegate as much as possible to other staff who can get the job done. If your calendar is prebooked with your children’s activities, or family fun, or just time for yourself, then keep those appointments as you would any others. – Patrick Williams, Williams and Associates
6. Use Technology Judiciously
Use technology versus being a slave to it. Set aside regular time to check when away from the office to stay plugged in as necessary. Balance that with having a scheduled dark time when the computer shuts and the work phone goes on silent. Stick with these behaviors until they become a habit. Most importantly, don’t make anyone else responsible for how you spend your time. It’s your life. Live it. – Gary Bradt, Bradt Leadership, Inc.
7. Prioritize Near-Term Tasks Versus Long-Term Activities
Recharging your batteries is not optional. It is especially important during the holidays to clear your schedule for time away from the office. To make the most of upcoming breaks, look ahead to clear a pathway by completing near-term objectives quickly while reprioritizing long-term activities. Pressuring yourself to finish everything right away defeats the purpose of recharging. – Lillian Gregory, The Institute for Human and Leadership Excellence
8. Take Daily Mindfulness Breaks
Balance is a mindset, not a pie chart. During the “silly season,” the key is to slow down in order to speed up. The tendency at this time of year is to multi-focus and hustle. Instead, force yourself to take 10-minute mindfulness breaks every hour, or longer ones several times a day, and ensure these are device-free time blocks. The result is more clarity, more energy and greater efficiency. – Ashley Good, Ashley Good Coaching & Consulting
9. Have A Team Discussion About Holiday Schedules
Make holiday planning a group activity. Company leaders may consider planning a meeting for employees to discuss schedules for the holiday season while developing a team staffing plan. This approach can promote camaraderie among employees while minimizing scheduling conflicts, limiting the number of last-minute vacation requests and ensuring adequate staff is available to cover business needs. – Rick Gibbs, Insperity
10. Make A Realistic Priority List
Balancing priorities gets stressful because people are unrealistic of what can get done. Start with writing down a list of everything that you feel is a priority. Then pare down this list by separating what “has” to get done, from what “would be nice” to get done. Creating a realistic list will enable you to accomplish your true priorities before adding “it would be nice” items to the list. – Julie Kantor, Ph.D., JP Kantor Consulting
11. Just Say No
The most important thing that we can do to balance priorities during the holiday season is to learn that “no” is a complete sentence. It does not require justification, and you don’t need to invent excuses. You can and should learn to achieve more and do less! – Sharon Weinstein, SharonMWeinstein
Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of leading business coaches and career coaches. Find out if you qualify at forbescoachescouncil.com/qualify.