By Edeline Anne Goh
The holidays are here! You can’t wait to take a much-needed break but while you’re excited about the prospect of some time off, it might be difficult to keep calm as you try your best to complete your workload before your vacation begins.
Understanding the importance of managing your workload will definitely help ensure that there is minimal — or hopefully zero — last minute stress that can creep up and ruin your holiday.
#1 Create a to-do list
Having a to-do list will help you keep track of what needs to get done, especially when the holiday season beckons and you have to handle tedious work amidst the many fun, attractive pre-holiday distractions. It’s never too late to start a to-do list and it doesn’t require a fancy or expensive memo pad or notebook. All you need is a blank sheet of paper or a free mobile app like Toodledo or Remember the Milk to get things organised. While you’re at it, make sure you limit your list so you don’t have more than 5 tasks to complete in one day. This will help you avoid being overwhelmed. A fun bonus is that you’ll get plenty of satisfaction when you check off tasks, as each tick signals that you’re getting closer and closer to a stress-free holiday.
#2 Planning Ahead
Things tend to slow down at work around the holiday season mainly because many people are on leave. That’s why it’s always best to inform your colleagues — and of course your boss — about your vacation dates well in advance This is a crucial step so that everything in the office runs smoothly while you are away and you don’t end up receiving unwanted text messages and phone calls while you’re relaxing by a beach at your holiday destination! Planning ahead also means that you will have an easier time when you get back to work. You should also make an effort to take note of upcoming projects and tasks that you’re involved in so you can plan your schedule to include these as well.
Prioritise essentially means “to assign things as more important than others”. Prioritising your workload can do wonders! This tip works best with tip #1 as it will help you decide which tasks belong to the top half of your to-do list. Planning and scheduling will help you to identify which tasks need to be completed immediately and which ones can wait a little longer. Focus your efforts on top priority tasks during this critical before-the-holidays period and you’ll find yourself speeding through your workload, fueled by clarity and a sense of purpose.
#4 Leave some time for planning
The end of the year is not just about using every minute you have to finish up important projects. You should also dedicate some time to ponder what you hope to accomplish in the year to come. Think about the past year, note down your accomplishments and from there, work on your aims for the year ahead — be it career ambitions or aspirations related to your personal life. This is a great way to help you to stay aligned with your life goals and dreams.
As you’re in the midst of trying to finish up all your projects, it’s easy to get stressed and lose your direction and motivation. This will affect your productivity and can cause you to fall further behind on your workload. Avoid this fate by making a special effort to remain calm and relaxed. Simple breathing exercises work well. For example try this: sit straight up, inhale slowly while counting 1 to 10 then exhale at the count of 10. You can also opt for a short walk during lunch. Staying calm helps you to think clearly, stay focused and complete your work tasks quickly and efficiently.
#6 Ask for Help
If your workload feels over the top, why not ask for some help? If your company’s budget permits, talk to your boss about getting some extra help for your department — at least for a little while. This will definitely help you increase speed and quality of work during this busy time.
#7 Aim for Balance
Are you preparing for a ‘work marathon’ in the weeks to come? If you are, you will want to carefully plan your work and personal schedules so you can achieve some sort of balance. Setting up ‘camp’ at your office so you can work around the clock will not benefit you physically, emotionally and mentally. There’s a good chance that you’ll feel so drained from long hours of work that you might just be too tired to enjoy the holidays!
#8 Return a Little Earlier
Dropping by the office a few days earlier than planned may seem a little bizarre but it’s great idea if you wish to have some time to organise your work after a long break. Yes, you’re going to feel rather reluctant to come into the office but think about it — you’ll have the freedom to organise your days or weeks ahead with hardly any pressure. Returning to work after the holidays at the same time as everyone else can be stressful as you’re likely to have back to back meetings scheduled, countless emails to reply and phone calls to make. This tip will also help you gradually ease yourself out of post-holiday blues.
Managing your workload efficiently, will definitely keep your stress levels in the safe zone. It’s not impossible to remain calm and accomplish all the important tasks you need to do during the end of the year rush. In fact, why not set an example so everyone else at your office will be encouraged and inspired to handle year-end work projects with ease? After all, vacation time is about enjoying precious moments with loved ones — minus work-related stress.
Good luck and happy holidays!