It’s the week before Christmas, and all through the office, people were wailing “I’M TOO STRESSED TO TALK….I’VE GOT TO SHOP IN MY LUNCHBREAK….I’VE STILL GOT THINGS TO DOOOOO”.
That’s how the poem goes, doesn’t it?
Like some (most) of us, you are probably beginning to panic about preparing gifts, lunches, family events, incomplete work tasks, the office secret Santa and annual leave. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with the gifts, lunches or family reunions (although I do maintain that any dessert covered in brandy custard constitutes a Christmas pudding). I can however share my top five office de-stressors that may help you to manage any pre-holiday melt-down that you’re thinking of having this week.
Explore what tasks need to be completed immediately, what can be completed in the short term, and what tasks can be classified as long term. Be fair in your assessment – don’t set yourself up for failure by prioritising ALL outstanding work tasks as immediate needs if they really aren’t. On the flip side, don’t leave ALL tasks to be completed on your return after holidays.
2. To-Do List
Now, while some of you may now be thinking “but I get more stressed out if I don’t complete things on my to-do list” hear me out. I’m a big fan of the to-do list, not necessarily for marking things off, but as a strategy to keep us on track. If you change your ideals on what a to-do list is, then you can create a tool that will help you set and achieve small goals. For your pre-holiday to-do list, you should be listing those tasks only that you prioritised as either immediately needed or needed in the short-term. Any long-term work tasks should not be included in this to-do list as it will quickly appear overwhelming and the usefulness of the tool will diminish.
By doing what you can ahead of time, you will be minimising stress in those last days or hours before you leave for holidays, as well as ensuring that any important details aren’t accidentally left out.
Similar to the to-do list, a timetable can become a tool of direction and guidance. Remember back to your schooling days when you used a timetable to help you ensure that you were spending enough time studying each subject? A timetable in the lead up to a holiday from the office can be useful in the same way. While I don’t recommend such strict timetabling as to account for every minute of every day, I do stress that it is important to structure what limited time you have so you can get the most out of it.
4. Create any handover documents ahead of time
If you are working in a job where you will need to handover any work tasks, clients or customer files while you are away, DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. This task is often prioritised incorrectly, and completed as a last event before you go on leave. By doing what you can ahead of time, you will be minimising stress in those last days or hours before you leave for holidays, as well as ensuring that any important details aren’t accidently left out. Obviously, not everything will be able to be added to a handover document a long way in advance; however, it is generally possible to add any last minute details to an existing document as they arise. By doing it in a controlled manner, you will likely find that the quality of details is better, and you will not experience the dreaded feeling of oppression that comes with having to do last minute handover documents.
And finally –
5. Have another rum ball!
Well – it IS the silly season …..
Lauren is a Rehabilitation Counsellor and Career Development Consultant, with close to 15 years of experience across the two fields. She is the founder of Headstrong Women, a specialist women’s career development service, and thrives on innovation and creativity to empower women to reach their potential. Find out more at www.headstrongwomen.com.au or on Facebook.