While other people were out giving the economy a boost on Black Friday, I was hiding behind my Kindle, avoiding my holiday to-do list—something that never seemed daunting when I was a stay-at-home mom, even with five kids. It wasn’t until I went back to work, years later, that I fully comprehended the rigor of pulling off Christmas while working a fulltime job. And, doing both well.
So along comes another holiday season, and while one hemisphere of my brain is actively engaged in PR Land, the other is working out the necessary details of fulfilling wish lists, crafting my annual greeting card, decorating the house, getting the older kids home from college… you know the drill. They’re all enjoyable distractions, but I’ll be the first to admit, the juggle takes a toll on the job.
Staying on-task during the holiday season is a challenge across the professional universe and no one is immune, whether you’re a CEO, CFO or president, account exec, receptionist or intern, work at home or commute. December rolls in, and before you know it, you’re succumbing to every advertisement, deal, invitation and libation that comes your way. Certainly, taking advantage of everyone’s heightened cheer, gratitude and playfulness is part of what makes the season enjoyable, but if you don’t set limits, your productivity and focus will be compromised. And potentially, your job.
Set the ground rules by reminding yourself, and those around you, that the holidays are fleeting; your career isn’t. Letting go of the reins, even if “everyone’s doing it,” can diminish your credibility with clients and peers. By contrast, staying on top of the details, delivering quality work and remaining attentive to goals at a time when others are flaking out, will make a lasting impression that might even put you in line for a post-holiday bonus or renewed contract.
Keeping it together isn’t easy, but these tips, gleaned over the years writing holiday survival articles, should help you find peace and productivity during one of the most demanding, er wonderful, times of the year:
- Exercise: Not only will maintaining your regimen help you combat all those extra food and drink calories, it will boost your energy and keep you feeling alert and clear-headed at the office
- Get up an hour earlier: Half the things we do in the morning such as reading emails, sifting through social media posts, catching up on the news, can be done while the brain is revving up
- Know your limitations: If you are not a high-energy person, ready for the next day or next big project on a slimmer sleep schedule, keep the holiday reveling to a minimum. A couple nights of sleep deprivation won’t set you back, but if you’re burning the candle at both ends from now until New Year’s Day, you’re going to unravel.
- Get your priorities straight: It’s a sure bet that your client will be happier with you meeting project deadlines than receiving that bottle of wine or restaurant gift certificate.
- Keep things down to a dull roar: Putting the “special” into holiday celebrations and gift-giving is truly what makes the season stand out. Lucky for you, most of us walk around each day longing for “the little things;” which means your small gesture will go a long way.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew (or let your clients): December is not an ideal time to launch a new initiative or take on a new project. This doesn’t work so well in the PR world, but in other industries, holding off until January when everyone has cleaned up their act, gotten some rest and is on a New Year high, will have numerous advantages.