As the holidays approach, many people feel the weight of just how busy this time can be. While the holidays are meant for a time to relax, unwind, celebrate, and see friends and family, a lot of us end up feeling like we can’t catch a break. With everyone at work away on vacation, and projects needing to be wrapped up before end of year, work definitely does not go on holidays. So, how can we stay sane?

Here are some change management tips that you can apply to your personal life to help you get through your work and personal commitments during the holidays with ease.

1. Prioritize your time

First off, you have to be comfortable with this concept: you will never find balance – in the traditional sense. If you constantly strive for balance it won’t happen – as you have peaks and valleys in your work as well as your personal life. It’s about prioritizing your time during the day. You get to determine how your day flows, even if sometimes it feels like work or your personal life might be in charge. If you’re one of those people (like I am) that can get distracted by social media or the news, download a browser blocker for your computer to avoid social media scrolling. I also turn off my sound, so notifications don’t distract me from my work – like writing this blog!

Even though I have my own business, I still keep two phones, like I did when I worked in an office. I purposely keep one that I can turn off – or not bring with me to dinner. If you feel you have to check work emails during the holidays, schedule it into your calendar, as once you are in there, at least an hour of your ‘brain time’ will be gone, as whether you deal with emails or not, they trigger your brain to think about work! While you may feel YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON THAT CAN HANDLE THINGS, if you are on vacation over the holidays, put your “Out of Office” on and learn to trust your colleagues to handle relevant work. Not everything is an emergency and needs an immediate response. Leave an emergency contact number or email and trust that people will call you if they need you. Set it and forget it! I know, easier said than done. But try it!

2. Separate work and personal time

If you’re working from home during the holidays, schedule your working hours the same as you would if you were at the office. Get up when you like, get dressed, and log in at 9am and back out at 5pm. It’s okay if there are some times where you run overtime, but scheduling helps you be mindful of when you should close your laptop, turn the light off and start your leisure time. Even though today is a Sunday, I’ve scheduled in time to do this blog, as I have a busy week ahead of me and time off over Christmas. Once this is done, my laptop will close and I won’t look at emails until tomorrow.

Schedule your personal time on your calendar, along with your work time. It’s so easy during the holidays to over commit and end up feeling rushed and flustered. As an example, if you’re doing dinner preparation or baking, work backwards and determine when you need to start the process. Plan out drive times to and from commitments, baking times for food, shopping time, etc and put them into your calendar. This may be my project management background speaking, but it works to keep you on track! You want to give yourself enough time to actually enjoy holiday errands and not resent it because you feel stressed and rushed.

3. Focus on recharging

The holidays are a time for us to celebrate and recharge after a year of work. It’s necessary for you to separate yourself from work to have a clear head when you return. It nearly every session I’ve lead, where I ask people “Where do you do your best thinking?” Only one or two people have said “at work”. Most people do their best thinking outside of work. Your brain needs a chance to relax for those brilliant ideas to come! You need the time off to be ready to go back in the New Year with a clear head and new motivation.

We also restore our energy by disengaging from striving tasks and focus on areas that work our brain in a different way. That’s why reading a book, watching TV (though there is some debate on that!) or talking with friends or family helps you recharge and think more clearly about work when you return. Take the time to get deeply involved in a non-work related task that you enjoy, like a hobby, where you lose complete track of time. Doing this engages our brain differently.

The holidays are a time for you to connect with the people you love, enjoy the things you like to do, and stop thinking about work. Don’t be afraid to say no if you feel like your schedule is getting too busy, and carve out some time for yourself. You can’t take care of anyone else, if you don’t take care of yourself first.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season!

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