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Maintain your work/life balance over the holidays

Kat Boogaard,

Remember when you were younger and enjoyed what felt like an eternity off from school around the winter holidays? Now, as a working professional, you need to balance all of your shopping, baking, wrapping and family time with your normal work schedule. And, finding time for it all can be a challenge.

1. Plan ahead

The more tasks and duties you can get accomplished now, the less you’ll need to worry about when the holiday season is here.

Sit down with your calendar to get a handle on all of the big projects and assignments you have coming up, then prioritize those tasks based on their deadlines and importance. Use those Friday afternoons when you’ve wrapped up the week’s work to start chipping away at the holiday projects on your list.

Having these future tasks and assignments physically written down will keep you focused on your long-term goals, not just the things that need to get done tomorrow.

2. Schedule everything

Instead of using your calendar only to pencil in important work meetings and deadlines, also mark your personal and social engagements.

That weekly exercise class you’re dying to attend, yet keep missing? Those holiday desserts you keep putting off baking? Or, that family movie night you still haven’t gotten around to? Mark them down in your calendar on the date and time you plan to do them, and make sure you honor them as you would any other professional appointment.

3. Explore a flexible schedule

Consider talking to your boss about a flexible schedule or remote working opportunities around the holidays. Yes, you’ll still need to work just as many hours and ensure that your projects are completed on time. But, being able to run the dishwasher while you’re on a conference call or put a batch of holiday cookies in the oven while you answer some emails can not only help you get more done, it can make you feel a little more balanced.

4. Say ‘no’

Oftentimes we end up working too much, simply because we have too much to do. And, while it feels great to be that go-to person that people can count on in a pinch, it just might not be realistic with your schedule.

If your manager approaches you with a new project idea, don’t enthusiastically agree immediately. Take some time to look at your current commitments and workload. And, remember to think about any upcoming obligations outside of work.

Do you have social commitments or family activities that would prevent you from pulling the late nights needed to get this project done? If you have the slightest bit of hesitation, you might want to think twice before agreeing to take that extra work on.

5. Be intentional

There’s no arguing with the fact that technology is great. But, it can also make it pretty difficult to ever actually leave the office. You scroll through your emails while you’re decorating the tree. You take a phone call in the middle of family dinner. And, you check your meeting schedule while you’re wrapping presents.

You might think of this as effective multi-tasking. But, you’re actually just working constantly.

If you want to achieve successful work/life balance, be intentional with your time. You don’t take personal phone calls or do online holiday shopping while you’re at work — apply this same rule to your home life. Don’t allow yourself to check emails or make work-related phone calls when you should be enjoying a relaxing evening.