Dec 18th - image for blog

7 easy ways to stay on top of work this holiday season

The holiday season is here again, and for some it is the busiest time of the year!  And in a few days, you will be right in the middle of it – selecting the right tree, buying presents, getting family and friends together…some of you may even be packing bags for that long-awaited vacation. 

Caught up as you will be in the chaos of planning, it will be easy to get lost and perhaps miss out on a thing or two at work. So how do you ensure that you have covered all your bases? Feel like you could use a few avatars to help spread yourself around right now? We do too! Workplace stress during the holidays is real! While we can’t gift you avatars, we can share a few useful tips that will help you manage your tasks and boost your productivity. (Pssst… look closely, you can use some of these to manage your personal tasks too.)

This holiday season, focus on the work at hand and ensure you don’t slip up.

Create the to-do list

To do or not to do! That is the question that will plague you every time you need to get something done. So, create a list. In fact, create a few… for work, for home, for shopping, etc. Lists will help declutter your thoughts and tackle confusion. Creating a list will also help you remember what needs to get done.

When you create a list, be specific. Identify tasks that need to be completed before the start of the holidays. With your tasks sorted out, you will be able to prioritize and allocate time. You will also be able to assign or delegate tasks to your co-workers and team members in case you cannot do them yourself.

Add details to your tasks

What, When, Where, Why, and How! Wanting to bake a cake is not as simple as putting in the batter and sticking the tray in the oven. It is the details that matter. Once you have identified the tasks, break them down into details, as minute as possible. Add all available information that includes timelines, dates, phone numbers, email IDs, etc. You should be able to tell what needs to be done and how, at a glance.

Deadlines need not be set in stone

You have now prioritized your tasks and prepared a list, but will you able to complete them though. Did you consider approaching holidays? Did you factor in the time spent on personal tasks like holiday shopping?  Take a hard look at the timelines you have set. Calculate the time required for these tasks. Give yourself a break in between each task and relax. If you think you need to postpone some of those tasks, then talk to your manager. If you think you need to require more time on the task, see if your teammates can share some of your work. 

Be flexible – other people’s time is not yours

You need to be doubly careful if you are a team lead or a manager. If your timelines include contributions from your teammates or subordinates, discuss and consider their commitments as well.  Remember, everyone is busy during the holidays. And no one wants to be stuck in the office doing work when they had no say in the planning.

Use your calendar to mark those dates

Once you have made your list, reach out to your co-workers and clients. Use your calendar to set up meetings with stakeholders. Inform them about your holidays and the status of your tasks. Discuss what needs to be done on priority before the holidays and what can be rescheduled.  Use alerts to tell you when a task is due to be completed.

Don’t be distracted

Did your co-worker say there is a sale at your favorite store? Is your floor excited about playing Secret Santa? And if you work in one of those companies that have celebratory year-end parties, then there will be a constant buzz around you. With multiple tasks at hand, there will be distractions galore. It is ok to refuse – to volunteer, to handle, or contribute to these activities. Politely decline and concentrate on work.  Explain to your co-workers and inform your manager that you need to focus on work.

Prepare your auto-response message

While you may be sitting back and enjoying that eggnog, not everyone will be closed for the holidays. There will always be some companies that will be open for business, if not in your part of the world, then elsewhere.  Prepare an auto-response message well in advance. If you expect colleagues and clients to get in touch with you during the holidays, let them know you won’t be able to answer your emails or take phone calls until you return. Mention the date of return. If you have assigned your responsibilities to a co-worker, mention their email ID and phone number in your message.

Lastly, be generous with yourself and your co-workers. 

No matter how much work needs to get done, everyone deserves some time off. Take small breaks, drink that coffee, go for a walk… come back refreshed and pick up a new task.   Don’t create stress at your workplace. Perhaps your co-worker will be inspired to bring holiday-themed cookies to work, they are always bragging about.   This holiday season, go for a well-deserved holiday without stressing about unfinished tasks at work. 

And by the way, pin those lists where you can see them.

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