It is not uncommon for employees to refuse their holiday days in fear of a massive build-up of unmanageable work while they’re gone. Many don’t feel that holidays are worth the amount of work they have to catch-up on when they’re back. That’s why we have compiled our top six tips on how to successfully leave work stress-free this Christmas.
There is nothing worse than saying goodbye to your office desk for a week while you drive home for Christmas, only to realise as soon as you arrive home that you left an urgent email sitting in drafts. Then, you remember about the client Christmas cards you forgot to post and the cycle continues. You’re then left spending the holidays with emails, projects and budgets constantly in the back of your mind.
Well, not this year!
Holiday breaks, especially at Christmas time, are so essential for giving your brain a rest. It also allows you to analyse the previous year to make room for improvement and recover before starting into a brand new year. The idea of getting a few days or weeks off can be so exciting. However, the more time we take off, the more work we often feel we have to do beforehand or catch-up on when we come back.
How to leave work stress-free for Christmas is all about how you plan your exit. The good thing is that almost everyone has the same days off. Remember this when you’re at home with your family enjoying their company and Christmas dinner you have all prepared.
Before we jump into our (not so) secret steps to make sure you leave work stress-free this Christmas, if you haven’t read our other blog about how to switch off from work, there are some great starting tips in there to help you with everyday struggles of thinking about work when you shouldn’t be.
Now, where were we?
Here’s how you can leave work stress-free:
1 | Get Stuff Done
Get as much done before you leave as you can. Try not to leave too much for when you come back. The more you have to come back to, the more things that will be floating about in your mind when you’re away. With that in mind, make sure you start this process at least one or two weeks before you leave. Chip away at a little bit of work to complete each day. Do not leave it until the day before you leave. That is a sure-fire way to create a lot of stress and anxiety if you have multiple projects pending.
Now, this is easier said than done, so let’s break this down even further.
Christmas can be an exciting time for many. You may find yourself day-dreaming about the presents you have to buy or the dessert you are making for post-Christmas dinner. But, try not to let your excitement distract from your work tasks to finish. The best way to do this is to schedule time in your day to think about things on your personal to-do list. Take 30 minutes during or after lunch (when most of us are facing the afternoon slump anyway) to give into your online present shopping daydreams. This will allow you to fully focus on work for the rest of the day.
Additionally, use the 2-minute rule to get small tasks off your list fast. The premise is that if something can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. Think along the lines of emails that you have been putting off sending, or scheduling a conference call date for January.
2 | Cut Out Distractions
If your company has empty meeting rooms, use them. Double-check that nobody will need one for client calls or meetings and book one out for yourself. If you work in a busy office or get distracted easily, go into the room with only your computer (no phone if you can get away with it!) and work on your most important projects to finish distraction-free. You will be surprised at how much more you can get done when your coworkers aren’t talking in the background or interrupting your train of thought with their weekend plans.
3 | Leave Emails Aside
Put on your Out of Office for external contacts a day or two early (maybe don’t tell your boss this one). Now, we don’t mean that you shouldn’t check your emails during this time (we love Tim Ferriss’ advice for this one where he explains the benefits of only checking your email once or twice a day at set times). It takes the pressure of having to reply quickly off knowing that the sender isn’t expecting it.
4 | Leave Instructions
Do a strong handover, if necessary. You might not be leaving work forever but in your absence, there may still be a few things that your coworkers need to be aware of. Will a client call and expect something done while you’re away? Will a package need to be delivered or picked up on a certain date? Think forward about any ongoing projects or tasks that you may need to leave instructions or guidelines for. Leave them where the necessary people can find them and inform your coworkers or boss that you have done so.
5 | A Tidy Desk Is A Tidy Mind
You may roll your eyes at this one, but make sure you tidy your desk and inbox before you leave. It’s not something urgent to be done, of course. But, you will feel so much better walking back into the office after Christmas knowing that you have no clutter, papers or old emails to sift through. You don’t need to do it all at once. Take 30 minutes each morning on the week prior to leaving and go through a specific section. This way it’s not overwhelming or taking up too much of your time each day.
6 | To-Do or Not To-Do
The last thing you should do is make a January to-do list. Now that projects pending are fresh in your mind, think about what you can defer until you come back. Write them down in order of importance and it will feel like you are writing the weight straight off your shoulders. Having these things written down means that you won’t be spending Christmas like Kevin’s mum in Home Alone – worrying about what you forgot to do.
My holidays were fantastic and stress-free! …now what?
You might be thinking, that’s great, I feel ready to leave work stress-free for Christmas now. But, what about coming back in January? How can I make sure that I start the new year fresh? How can I return to work with a positive and go-get-it mindset?
Part of this process may be to use the break to think about your emotional salary. What are the ways in which you can take responsibility for increasing your own emotional salary for the following year?
Emotional Salary is made up of 10 factors. By completing your own report, you will unlock the insights you need to discover specific factors which drive you to change and improve in your career. We will send you a full report with specific action steps that you can use immediately. One of the results of doing this is to become more aligned with your personal and professional goals.
If this sounds like something you need to get off to a good start in the New Year, take the Emotional Salary Barometer here.
Redefine YOUR Work!
Clodagh & Marisa