For many business leaders, the holiday season is one of the most stressful times of year. As you try to end the year strong and plan the following year there are tons of events and holiday activities demanding your attention.
Finding the time to succeed at work and fully participate in the season’s festivities is challenging even for the most productive people.
Here are four simple but highly effective time management strategies to help your personal life and business thrive during the holidays.
1) Map Out Your Workload During the Holiday Season
For most professionals, the most difficult part of managing their time during the holiday season is controlling their workload.
To prevent your never-ending to-do list from interrupting your seasonal fun, break it into three lists:
- Urgent, high-priority projects. These are projects with strict deadlines and have a significant impact on your success.
- Non-urgent, important projects. These are projects that need to be completed but have flexible deadlines and don’t play a huge role in your success.
- Non-urgent, miscellaneous tasks. These are all the tedious tasks you have to do on a regular basis like filing expense reports, updating your databases, formatting documents, etc.
Focus on getting all of your urgent projects done by mid November and December so that as it gets closer to the Thanksgiving and Christmas, you’re not working to meet tight deadlines.
Additionally, if you have an assistant, you should take advantage of their support during this time. They can tackle the majority of your non-urgent, miscellaneous tasks so you have more time to focus on 2020 planning and enjoying holiday activities.
2) Choose Your Holiday Events Carefully
The holidays are full of family gatherings, parties and other events that quickly fill up your calendar. To ensure you have time to enjoy the holiday festivities and end the year strong, plan your personal events as early as possible and say no to ones you know you’re not going to enjoy.
At the beginning of November and December, chat with your family and friends to find out what events they’re interested in throwing/attending so you can get them on your calendar. Mapping out your schedule early helps you better manage your time during the holidays by giving you plenty of time to get ahead if you need to leave work early for events and preventing your work and social schedules from getting overwhelming.
If you get invites later, say no to any that you don’t have time for and/or probably won’t enjoy. It will save you tons of unnecessary stress.
3) Time Block Your Schedule
Once you’ve mapped out your personal and professional obligations, the most effective way to manage your time during the holiday season is to time block your schedule.
Time blocking is a productivity system where you assign every hour of your day to different activities. It has several benefits including:
- Giving you a clear plan for how you’re going to spend your day so you don’t waste time figuring out what you should be working on.
- Helping you see if you actually have enough time to tackle everything on your to-do list or if you need to scale back some of your activities.
- Making it easy to decide if you have time to attend additional events or take on new projects.
Here’s an example of how you can time block your schedule:
Since unexpected issues will inevitably arise, add a couple of blocks throughout the week to catch up on projects you fall behind on.
4) Work with Your Team to Set Availability Expectations
Like you, your team is struggling to juggle their workload, holiday events, and time off. To reduce everyone’s stress during the holiday season, meet with your team to discuss:
- When everyone is taking their time off. If there’s a lot of overlapping dates, plan ahead to ensure your team’s work is covered during that time.
- Each person’s capacity to take on new projects. Try to spread out your workload so that no one is overburdened.
- Making response times more flexible. If your team is accustomed to replying to all messages promptly whether they’re in or out of the office, make email/chat times flexible so that people can spend more time on deep work and enjoying festivities. If something is urgent, have your team call.
Setting availability boundaries early, helps your team prioritize their time so that everyone is able to enjoy the season.
Overall, the key to managing your time during the holidays is planning ahead so you can be fully engaged at work and in your personal life.
About the Author: Emily formerly led Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.