The holidays are almost upon us, which means you will not only have all of your normal duties on your plate, but you’re more than likely piling on extra helpings of personal commitments, financial constraints, vacation time, and lots of stuffing and pie (apple or pumpkin for me, please). Aside from unhealthily chugging bottles of eggnog and going full Scrooge on everyone, there is a way to make it through the holidays without coming back in the new year feeling more overwhelmed and behind than relaxed and refreshed.
Start scheduling your time out of office now and communicate it out early and often. This way, when last minute meetings and big projects start trying to make their way onto your calendar, everyone can already see that you’re unavailable and, hopefully, work within your schedule or find someone else with more time. This also serves as a buffer for yourself when you start trying to schedule more meetings and work for yourself, by having your vacation time already on your calendar, you’re also reminding yourself that you need to take a breather and find some other times to meet with your team or wrap up a project.
Stop committing to getting gifts for everyone. Your boss, or bosses boss, or even great niece will not hate you and banish you from their lives if you draw the line and decide to contribute a small dollar amount to their gift or don’t contribute at all. If you truly feel getting extra gifts this year for colleagues or extended family is a must- say, for that coworker who did some extra favors for you this year, or those cousins that are coming into town this year- opt for more economic gifts or go in on a group gift instead to save you time, money, and them the headache of hauling around gifts from the office to the icy parking lot after hours.
Start reminding yourself that every single holiday party (office, family, friend, or otherwise) does not require your presence. It’s simple, you cannot enjoy the holidays if you’re constantly running from event to event for the next two months. For office holiday celebrations, suggest to your team(s) that you go out for a team lunch instead of after-hours cocktails and dinner. For those celebrations outside of office hours, limit your RSVPs to the events that will serve their purpose for a holiday party, which is to relax, network, and enjoy yourself. While attending multiple office parties with different crowds might increase your chances of running into that one person you feel the need to brush shoulders with- wouldn’t it be a lot easier and less stressful to just use your current network to grab coffee with them at a later date where they aren’t also feeling the holiday stress?
Stop putting yourself last for the sake of the holidays and your career. We’ve all been in the mindset and at the point in our lives where we feel we have to sacrifice our own mental health and much needed rest in order to get ahead or just survive one more holiday dinner, and honestly, sometimes you can’t choose yourself first in order to get into a position to make the conscious choice of putting yourself first. In actuality, no family member, boss, employer, or spouse, is worth your time and energy if they refuse to understand that you just cannot afford another gift, or that you just don’t have the time for one more party, or that you don’t have the mental energy to drink your way through one more white elephant gift exchange. Tell them no, decline the invite, put your credit card away, and go home to your cozy couch and Hallmark Christmas movies. This is only the most wonderful time of year if you curate the time to enjoy it, and anyone worth their weight in holiday cookies knows that and will understand.