Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Eileen Habelow, Ph.D. of Randstad
December is one of those contradictory months during which we use the most vacation time but feel the most stressed. Why is this? Add up the limited time in the office, the fact that everyone on vacation isn’t responding to email or voicemail and the personal workload of holiday shopping and cooking, and you have your answer.
But the question isn’t why we’re stressed but what we can do about it. While you’re still at the office this holiday season, here are a few tips to keep the stress level down and the cheer up.
Four weeks of work have to be crammed into three. It sounds impossible and perhaps it is, but trying to do everything at once is not the answer. Multitasking is often less efficient due to the time it takes you to switch your focus from one task to another. Make a list of your projects in order of priority. Start with #1 and work your way down, completing each task as thoroughly as possible as you go. At the end of the day you may not have gotten to everything on your list, but a few completed projects is better than a long list of incomplete ones.
Embrace It In Spurts
The next few days or weeks might feel like mayhem, but how was last month? What does January look like? If work just picked up recently and hope is on the horizon, a period of heightened stress and energy at the office can be exciting and rewarding. Just don’t let it get out of hand. If you’ve regularly been working overtime and are constantly under pressure, you should consider hiring on additional help or speaking with upper management.
Take a Mini-break
You don’t need an hour and you don’t need a four course meal. You do need 5 minutes and at least a snack. We’ve all had those days when taking a lunch break is out of the question. But if you plan to eat at your desk, you still need 5 minutes to recharge. Walk across the street to grab take-out. If you bring your lunch, leave it in the car. You’ll come back from the parking deck with a fresh mind to settle back into work.
Keep Work In Perspective
Don’t forget that it’s the holidays. Bosses, clients and coworkers all have friends and family that take priority this time of year, and so do you. Have a holiday party to attend? Want to bake cookies with your kids after work? Don’t miss these memorable times. If need be, come in a few hours earlier in the morning so that you can leave the office in time to share some holiday cheer.
While December is particularly stressful, it’s not the only time we’re faced with a cumbersome workload. When the next wave comes, remember to prioritize the small things without losing track of the bigger picture.
Eileen Habelow, Ph.D., is the senior vice president of Organizational Development with Randstad, a global provider of HR solutions and staffing.
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