The holidays are the perfect time to celebrate with loved ones, reconnect with family, and spend time away from the office to recharge. But new data from LinkedIn reveals that the latter is easier said than done. In fact, 88% of U.S. workers feel stressed during the holidays because they find it difficult to balance personal and work-related commitments.
Of course, the fact that the holidays coincide with the end of the year makes things harder for employees whose work tends to be deadline-driven. Often, there's pressure to wrap up key projects, submit certain reports, and close out accounts in advance of a new calendar year. And when you're grappling with a strict timeline, it can be difficult to take time off for the holidays, or enjoy it when you do.
If you're anxious about managing your time during the latter part of the year, here are a few things you can do to make your schedule more manageable, all the while letting yourself actually enjoy the holidays rather than resent them.
1. Map out a schedule for handling work versus personal tasks
Managing a full-time work schedule is difficult enough when you don't have 17 gifts to buy, travel plans to book, and party menus to shop for. As such, during the holidays, it can be even more difficult to find time to tackle your job-related and personal to-do list.
The solution? Get very, very organized. Bust out your calendar and block off times to accomplish personal tasks so you're not just squeezing them in on top of your work tasks, but rather, giving them the attention they warrant. Incidentally, more than 50% of employees admit that they routinely sneak in personal tasks during the workday to tackle holiday must-dos, like card-writing or online shopping. But if you go that route, you'll risk getting caught, looking unprofessional, and not actually accomplishing the things you want to do by taking multitasking to an unhealthy extreme.
2. Use your vacation days
The idea of taking an extra day off during the holidays might seem crazy at first, what with your insane workload and looming deadlines. But that paid time off you're entitled to exists for a reason, and if you have days left to claim, use them to make your schedule more manageable. Allocating a full, single day to shopping, packing for your travels, and decorating your home could help alleviate a world of stress, all the while allowing you to better focus on work tasks when you are at the office. LinkedIn reports that nearly 80% of professionals have never had a holiday time off request declined, so figure out when you need a day off and ask for it sooner rather than later.
3. Know when to unplug
A good 53% of employees admit to checking in on work matters when they're supposed to be off for the holidays. That's problematic, because if you're unable to focus on your holiday celebrations, it can not only impact your mood, but that of your loved ones as well.
If you really don't think you'll manage to avoid checking work emails when you're away from the office for the holidays, designate small windows of time each day to log on, and communicate that schedule to the people you're celebrating with to avoid conflict. At the same time, don't hesitate to ask your colleagues for assistance when you're away from the office and they're not. If you make it clear that you'll return the favor once the tables are turned, there's a good chance they'll jump in and help you out so you can really unplug for a bit.
Juggling the holidays and work is no easy feat, but it's also something you'll generally have to do year after year. Rather than stress your way through the season, get organized, take time off strategically, and set boundaries when you're not in the office. With any luck, you'll manage to eke out some enjoyment in the coming weeks, all the while accomplishing whatever it is your job demands of you.