Remember those blissful days back in grammar school, when the holiday spirit began to creep in? The majority of academics were replaced by creating wintery crafts and learning Christmas carols for the December concert, or rehearsing parts for the seasonal play. Now that we have full time careers (or part time jobs and grad school), the holidays have become synonymous with stress, but it doesn’t have to be. With simple time management and work prioritization, November-January can once again be merry and bright.
Make a to-do list
Good. Now, make that to-do list realistic. Cross off everything that doesn’t need to be completed until after New Year’s. You don’t really need to re-brand your company or invent something new this instant. Instead, focus on short-term goals that will keep your momentum, and prepare you for your exciting new endeavors come January.
Give yourself deadlines
And not just deadlines for your to-do list, but a deadline for when you leave work each day. Pretend you are Goldilocks and set it at a reasonable time (not too early, not too late), and let the norm among your coworkers be your gauge. Giving yourself a set time you have to leave by will allow you stay focused and efficient as you work to complete your tasks by the end of the day. When the clock strikes “done,” go home.
Choose your after-work plans well
What you do after leaving work can greatly affect your mood and productivity for the following day. It may be tempting to let happy hour turn into a night on the town, but you’ll pay for it the next day. If socializing relaxes you, have one drink or dinner with friends. We know this is event season, but if you want to get through it alive, you have to be sensible. No matter what your plans are, give yourself a set time to be home so that you can fully unwind and get a full night’s sleep.
Holiday shopping can be insane (and sometimes deadly), especially when you try to fit it in between work hours. Don’t attempt to buy presents during lunch, and don’t run around like a maniac after work, trying to shop before the stores close. Instead, try shopping online. Choose stores that have dedicated gifts sections–they make picking out something special for your parents, sisters, brothers, friends, and significant other completely painless. We really love the L’Occitane gift boutique, and J. Crew’s gift guide. To get yourself and the whole family into the true holiday spirit, give a gift that helps others, like these whistles from Falling Whistles that we’re buying for everyone on our list.
This is a time for friends and family. When celebrating the festivities with your loved ones, turn your BlackBerry off. We know, we know, the thought is utterly terrifying. Chances are, however, your boss is probably sipping a Hot Toddy with his or or her parents as well. You’ve prioritized your to-do list, accomplished your short-term goals, and you’ve taken care of all your shopping. Turn off your cell and your worries, then let your main focus be whether you’re having apple or pumpkin pie to start.