Christmas is an important time in my family, and the holidays are a time when there is an opportunity to connect with the kids. But, there are a lot of things competing for that peaceful attention.
Here are some strategies that might help:
Prioritize the Season
The first thing to do is decide how important the Holiday season is for you. There are a lot of expectations swirling around the holidays. If it is important, then treat it so. If not, then let go a bit.
This is prime time for entertaining clients, celebrating with co-workers, and connecting with your network. Try politely deferring the people that can wait until the New Year. Chances are, they will feel equally relieved that they have one less meeting prior to Christmas.
Whom can you bring together for one event? Several (non-competing) clients, where you play host and connector? A bunch of colleagues? There is that natural tendency to book 1-1 meeting with people, but see if you can get creative, save time, and in the process, perhaps add some value to the people you bring together.
Let’s face it. It is very easy to get distracted over the next few weeks. Get very focused on your most important tasks and responsibilities. Lay out a clear path to get them done, and work the plan.
Book Your Errand Time
You have shopping to do. It is amazing what a couple of hours of focused shopping time can produce, and in particular mid-week. Go out at lunch, or at the end of the day. It can actually be fun.
Plan Your Personal Goals
What do you want the holiday season to look like? Specifically, what do you want to make happen? Book it. Make it happen. Don’t get too ambitious if you don’t have the time, but applying the same business discipline to your household will likely pay dividends.
Prepare those around you for your offline time. Get done what you need to get done. Communicate your schedule in advance so that colleagues will make allowances. Do not soften it by communicating that you will be checking email during your days off.
Leave Town, or Pretend To
What is it about skiing? If you are heading out of town for a vacation, that distance validates that you are away from the office. Stay at home vacation? You are more at risk? If you aren’t leaving town, use language that makes your holiday time more real.
Be In the Moment
Whether you are taking a week, or just the statutory holidays, be there, in the moment. When it is time to celebrate, celebrate. When it is time to be with your kids, be with your kids. Turn off the Blackberry, forget about work, and don’t feel guilty. You deserve it.
Unfortunately, there are work environments where 24/7 is the rule and you can’t checkout. However, in most cases, based on my experience, executives self-impose 24/7 expectations on themselves.
Where do you fit? Have you earned the right to take care of yourself and your family? The holiday season is actually a good litmus test for how healthy your career situation and position is.