On a cold December morning, career coach Eileen Chadnick is readjusting her busy schedule. She has put off running to take an important call, and has a full workday ahead, with a holiday celebration to attend later. It’s all part of the year-end juggle.
“It’s always busy in my world, but December has its own unique brand of business,” said Ms. Chadnick, principal of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto. “I call this the season of rush.”
To cope with it all, she said she gets “ruthless” about what goes on her to-do list. Her seasonal newsletter and year-end blog entry can’t wait, but coffee with clients can be put off until January.
She also schedules time for personal reflection. “That’s a huge priority for me. Even when life and work get super busy, reflective practice keeps me grounded and focused.”
She reflects on what’s going well and what she’s grateful for – the things that keep her going when she feels worn down. “Yes, I’m busy but I love my work, my clients, my family. It’s important that along the way, you grab those moments and celebrate them.”
Here are her top tips for dealing with the holiday crunch at work:
Time to triage
Deal with the most important needs first and direct your energy where it’s needed most. Identify which items are most s critical. Then look at the other items and see if some can wait until January, be delegated to others, or simply taken off the list.
Learn to say no
If you are getting requests to accommodate dates, meetings and projects that are not high priority or achievable at this busy time, just say no. If saying no is difficult, try “not at this time,” or say yes to a modified request. For example, if you’re asked to run a holiday fundraiser, say no to the organizing role but yes to helping out.
Make a list, check it twice
It’s hard to keep everything top of mind when there is so much going on, so write it down. This seems like a no-brainer if you are already organized but if lists aren’t your thing, this would be a good time to try it. You’d be surprised how helpful they can be to keep you focused. You may also want to add some “do not do’s” to keep focused on your commitments and not get distracted by things that can wait.
Eat, sleep and be merry
When we are stressed with lots on the go, it’s easy to compromise some of our healthier habits. Don’t skimp on your sleep, exercise and healthy nutrition because you will need all the energy you can get. It’s much harder to cope when you are sleep-deprived or over-caffeinated.
To avoid letting the Grinch steal your holiday spirit, be aware of how you are dealing with stress at work. One way to stay optimistic is to remind yourself daily what you are grateful for this year. Show gratitude to colleagues by saying thank you. This is a great way to “give at the office” and truly mean it.
Being mindful in the moment will allow you to enjoy the present without getting too overwhelmed by all that’s left to do. So keep your nose to the grindstone, but stay open and notice the moments that make this season special.
Most importantly, Ms. Chadnick said, look forward to the future. If you have a break coming, use it as a carrot to stay energized. “And take a moment to reflect on at least one thing you are looking forward to at work for 2012. In other words, get yourself another carrot – it’ll be good for you!”
Dianne Nice is the online editor for GlobeCareers.com. Send your expert tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.