How to Maintain a Work/Life Balance Over the Holidays

Remember when you were younger and you enjoyed what felt like an eternity off from school in order to celebrate the holidays? Well, those days are long gone. Now, as a working professional, you need to balance all of your gift shopping, baking, wrapping, and family time with your normal work schedule. And, finding time for it all can definitely be a challenge.

It’s no secret that you want to squeeze in as much holiday cheer with your family and loved ones as you can. But, that doesn’t mean you can sacrifice all of the work-related projects, tasks, and deadlines you have sitting in the docket. So, identifying some helpful tactics for better work/life balance is essential—especially once the holidays roll around.

Check out these tips for maintaining a successful balance between your professional and personal lives, and get ready to enjoy the holidays—without obsessing over the work you left behind!

1. Plan Ahead

Of course, effective prior planning can really help to remove some stress from your plate. And, the more tasks and duties you can get accomplished now, the less you’ll need to worry about when the holiday season is actually here.

So, sit down with your calendar to get a solid handle on all of the big projects and assignments you have coming up in the next couple of months. Then, prioritize those tasks based on their deadlines and priority. Those Friday afternoons when you’ve wrapped up that week’s work and aren’t sure what else you can get started on? Well, you can use that time to start chipping away at the projects on your list.

Having these future tasks and assignments physically written down will keep you focused on your long-term goals—and not just the things that need to get done tomorrow. Plus, getting these things started early will free up at least a little bit of your time when the holidays are here!

2. Schedule Everything

Here’s the thing about attempting to achieve work/life balance: for some reason, we still let work take way more priority. That’s hardly balance, is it? Yes, you need to pay the bills and uphold your professional reputation. But, you also need time to recharge, relax, and decompress.

My trick for making sure that I’m actually leaving enough time for my personal ambitions and obligations? I like to schedule absolutely everything. So, instead of using your calendar just to pencil in important work meetings and deadlines, also mark in your personal and social engagements.

That weekly exercise class you’re dying to attend, yet keep missing? Those holiday desserts you keep putting off baking? Or, that family Christmas movie night you still haven’t gotten around to? You should mark them down in your calendar on the date and time you plan to do them, and then make sure you honor them as you would any other professional appointment.

Your planner will help to hold you accountable for not only your professional duties, but your personal relaxation time as well. The key is just to stick to it.

3. Explore a Flexible Schedule

Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day. And, when you’re trying to make it to your child’s holiday concert in the middle of the workday, sticking to your standard work schedule can be difficult. So, if you think it would be helpful to you, consider talking to your boss about a flexible schedule or remote working opportunities around the holidays.

Yes, you’ll still need to work just as many hours and ensure that your projects are completed on time. But, being able run the dishwasher while you’re on a conference call or put a batch of holiday cookies in the oven while you answer some emails can not only help you get more done, but also make you feel a little more balanced in the process! Even better? You can avoid those snowy, rush hour commutes to the office.

So, go ahead and approach your boss to find out if there’s any flexibility in your work schedule. After all, the worst your supervisor can say is “no.”

4. Say “No”

Speaking of saying “no”, it’s an important thing for you to do every now and then. Oftentimes we end up working too much, simply because we have too much to do. And, while it feels great to be that go-to person that people can count on in a pinch, it just might not be realistic with your schedule.

If your manager approaches you with a new project idea, don’t enthusiastically agree immediately. Instead, take some time to look at your current commitments and workload. And, remember that you don’t want to only factor in the work that’s currently on your plate. You should also think about any upcoming obligations outside of work.

Do you have social commitments or family activities that would prevent you from pulling the late nights needed to get this project done? If you have the slightest bit of hesitation, you might want to think twice before agreeing to take that extra work on.

5. Be Intentional

There’s no arguing with the fact that technology is great. But, it can also make it pretty difficult to ever actually leave the office. You scroll through your emails while you’re decorating the tree. You take a phone call in the middle of family dinner. And, you check your meeting schedule while you’re wrapping presents.

You might think of this as effective multi-tasking. But, you’re actually just working constantly. Even worse? These frequent work distractions are causing you to miss out on valuable quality time with your family and loved ones.

If you want to achieve successful work/life balance—especially around the holidays—then you need to make an effort to be intentional with your time. You don’t take personal phone calls or do online holiday shopping while you’re at work. So, apply this same rule to your home life. Don’t allow yourself to check emails or make work-related phone calls when you should be enjoying a relaxing evening.

When the day is done, leave your work in the office. Actually having adequate time to enjoy the holidays with your family is sure to help you feel more balanced!

6. Spread Holiday Cheer

Let’s face it—there’s no way around it, you still need to work during the holidays. Perhaps you get a few days out of the office, but it will never compare to that long, relaxing break you got when you were in school.

So, although heading into work when you feel like you should be throwing snowballs or drinking hot cocoa can be a little demoralizing, there’s no rule stating that you can’t incorporate some holiday cheer into your normal work day. Bring in some holiday treats for all of your co-workers. Put in some earbuds and listen to festive music while you’re working. Enjoy an afternoon mug of hot chocolate. Or, head out on your lunch hour for a quick walk through the snow.

Anything you can do to take some time and enjoy the spirit of the holiday season is sure to boost your mood and help you avoid feeling like you’re missing all of the festivities just to sit at your desk!

Maintaining an adequate balance between your personal and professional lives is always a challenge. But, it can become extra difficult during the holiday season, when you feel an increased desire for more personal and family time. Try out these tips to stick to all of your work deadlines, while still being able to enjoy the holidays!

Kat Boogaard

Written by

Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer covering topics related to careers, self-development, and entrepreneurship. Her byline has appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, QuickBooks, Business Insider, and more. Find out more about her on her website, or connect with her on Twitter.

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