The holidays are swiftly approaching and with them comes some unique challenges for the WAH professional. How do you manage on-going projects? What do you need to do to keep your clients happy, but also to stay sane? We asked our experts to share with us their tips and tricks to avoid the overwhelming stress that the upcoming holidays may bring your way. Here are their suggestions on balancing out and scheduling your workload during this holiday season.
-Client management and expectations. Most clients are taking holiday time off just like you. Be aware of their time off and vice-versa. We find our clients are more flexible with deadlines around the holidays as long as you keep them updated.
-Reflect. The end of the year and the holidays often gives you some free time to handle some bigger picture or strategy items that you don’t have time for otherwise. Finish those items that have been on your list since March and plan for the New Year.
-Work-plans. Make sure your project timelines account for the holidays. We have market research projects that take 5 to 6 normal weeks. But projects that stretch over both Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s don’t follow a typical 5 to 6 week timeline. Plan ahead and set those expectations with employees and clients.
– Avoid taking on voluntary projects or extra work that you don’t have the time or expertise to manage. Your boss and coworkers will respect you more for being upfront about what you can accomplish instead of agreeing to something and not following through or doing shoddy work.
– Don’t do work outside your regular office hours- not even checking email! Give yourself a well-deserved break from work and you’ll be more productive when you are in the office.
– Stop aiming for the perfect holiday and instead enjoy a holiday that doesn’t send you into overwhelm at work and home. Let yourself off the hook for baking holiday cookies, sending holiday cards, and other traditions that may create more work and stress around the holiday.
– Set Expectations – Setting realistic expectations for ourselves, as well as our friends and family helps maintain the work-holiday balance. This includes setting a goal, and outlining the steps needed to accomplish those goals. Then, allot time to accomplish the necessary tasks, and time reserved for your family. When my family is aware of my plans and commitments, it lessens the likelihood that they’ll feel disappointed about periodic absences, or at my tendency to be on the phone more than usual at times.
– Be Creative – As a mom, the hardest part of working from home through the holidays is feeling like I am missing out on quality time with the kids. One way we combat that feeling is to enlist their help. Little things, like bringing me lunch, or helping me with tasks like getting the mail or emptying the trash, makes them feel like part of the team and gives us happy encounters throughout the day. I also take breaks – like I would at a traditional job – to have spontaneous dance parties or tickle-fests 1-2 times per day when they are home.
– Be forgiving – It can be difficult, but we have to be forgiving regardless of the outcome. Balancing work and family is difficult and we are all doing the best we can. Feel like you worked too much? Forgive yourself. Feel like you neglected work? Forgive yourself. Tomorrow is another day, and a fresh start. So make the necessary adjustments to your goals and get back in the typical groove!
-Plan ahead. I know that things slow down around the holidays, so I plan ahead as much as possible to get extra work done in advance whenever possible.
-Be versatile. With holiday parties, family visits and the holidays themselves, I make sure to get work in when I can, whenever I am. By being able to work in various locations, and in short spurts, I make sure to take every opportunity I can to squeeze in some productivity.
-Communicate. The final key to managing the holiday season is to communicate with my team members and clients. They’re facing the same hectic holiday schedule, so I regularly communicate to make sure everyone’s needs are being met. In reality, most people’s demands are less during the holiday season so it’s a great time to catch up in other areas.
If you’re stressed, you can’t have a clear vision of your goal. You need to be relaxed so you can plan and execute it in a better way.
Make a To-Do list of your task and prioritize it. By prioritization, you can ensure that the most important task should be done. Make an action plan and follow it.
Do not over commit anything. Set deadlines for each task so it may help you to complete your prioritize task early and also helps you to achieve your goals.
– *Plan* – prepare a plan, so every staff member would know their duties and tasks. Having a plan will not only help your work run more smoothly but will also give you a sense of security and comfort. During stressful holiday times when the workload is increased an extra sense of comfort and security can go a long way.
– *Prioritize* – Put the most important tasks on top of your to-do list and fulfill each one with high levels of concentration. Then move to the less important tasks and so on.
– *Have deadlines* – you and your colleagues need to know when a certain job is due. This will help you decide on which task to start first and how much time it will require. It will also give you a realistic idea of how you’re doing with the workload and whether you’re moving according to plan.
– Get ahead of it– This means take a look NOW at what needs to be done by the end of 2017. Determine what can be wrapped up early, what can be started now (most of the heavy lifting done early) and what needs to wait till later in December. Do your best to manage and finish anything you can- BEFORE the holidays come.
– Organize and Manage Time: This means you estimate time needed for each project (see your list from Tip #1). Project X needs to wait till mid December and will take 3 full days. OK, so block out that time- specific days- and coordinate with your personal/family needs.
– Ask for help– Delegate work, look to team members, colleagues, your boss- to assist you. If there is something that is REALLY a problem- meeting and project work scheduled for the day you need to see your child in Christmas play- speak to your boss and brainstorm to see how to manage. The key to all of this is to plan ahead and anticipate needs and schedule conflicts.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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