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How to survive the holiday pre-log

Are you decking the halls or bouncing off the walls?
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There’s a certain kind of madness that precedes time away from work. Many of us are in the thick of it right now, as we rush to meet deadlines and schedule all the things that seem to crop up before the end-of-year break. (Have you ever had to nip out of the office Christmas party to finish off a project? Asking for a friend …)

If the accumulated workload that greets you after a break is called a backlog, then surely the work that piles up beforehand should be known as a pre-log. You know the feeling: when everyone wants a piece of you – and whatever they want needs to be done right away. Or it might be self-imposed: you see the end of the year as the closing of a chapter and feel compelled to tie up loose ends, so you don’t have anything hanging over you during the break. Whatever the cause, the end-of-year pre-log can create a whole lot of stress. But is it really necessary?

We’re going to go out on a limb here and say no, probably not. Sure, there’s no doubt some deadlines need to be met, but do you really need to finish everything pre-Christmas? Here are some strategies to manage (or at least survive) your holiday pre-log:

  • Prioritise – Looking at your to-do list, is there anything that could be left until January – even February? Deadlines are often set before Christmas for projects that won’t be looked at until the new year. Negotiate and reschedule tasks where possible.
  • Say no – This one can be tricky for all you ‘yes’ people out there but think of it this way: for everything you say ‘yes’ to, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else. That project you’ve agreed to work on is time away from your family and friends. Those client invitations you accepted are eating into your downtime. Before you say ‘yes’ to anything, consider what it’ll cost you.
  • Go easy on yourself – When you’re working towards a deadline, it can seem crazy to do those ‘healthy’ things like taking a break, going for a walk, eating … The last one is a bit of a no-brainer, but as for taking breaks, they actually make you more productive. Aim to work in 90-minute blocks, followed by 20 minutes of rest, which could involve doing some exercise, cooking a healthy meal – whatever refuels you best.
  • Meditate – Some of you may roll your eyes at this one, but a bit of mindful meditation will help soothe your buzzing brain. You don’t have to reach Dalai Lama-level for this to work – just plug into an app like Headspace or Calm, which pretty much does the work for you.

Remember: your upcoming break (assuming you’ll be having one) is your chance to recharge and refocus. It’s not going to be much fun burning through these last few weeks to the point where you collapse in a heap at the end of them. Save some of yourself for this precious time away from work. Things always seem calmer and less urgent on the other side.

– The Coach Place Global

Image by @Alex Belogub

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