As the holiday season reaches its culmination, life may be getting pretty hectic as you try to get work done with limited hours while also finishing holiday preparations with seemingly no free time. Balancing everything without losing your mind is a delicate job that needs to be approached as such. There are a number of steps to take that can help ensure that you manage of all of your end-of-year obligations at work and at home, while still being able to enjoy the holidays and the time they should afford.
You probably already use some sort of calendar, whether it be a handsome bound organizer, a wall calendar, or the calendar app on your phone. All have advantages. Paper calendars may be easier to compile from hand-written lists and reward you with the lovely satisfaction of crossing each task off upon completion. Apps put your schedule at your fingertips and can be synchronized with your email, or with your family or co-workers' calendars. No matter what you use, be comprehensive and include everything- not just your professional obligations. You may feel silly putting shopping or your family's traditional It's A Wonderful Life watch in the same planner as lunch with a client, but this way the time gets blocked out and you're showing commitment. They're both important.
Another key to enjoying downtime with family is to cut back on things that sound fun but are more work than they're worth. Are there parties you only attend out of a sense of obligation? Are you offering to host a gathering that doesn't feel rewarding? Is there a family/office tradition that nobody in the family/office actually enjoys? Try to cut them out of the schedule. Politely decline, suggest alternatives, and get as many unfestive festivities off the schedule. Any shortcuts, whether they be online shopping, potluck dinners or teleconferences, help save time as well.
Once all that remains on your schedule is the truly enjoyable and the truly unavoidable, commit to whatever's on it at the moment. While you're at work, worry about getting your projects finished instead of the gifts you still need to buy. Ideally, you have time budgeted for them. The opposite is true too: don't spend family time trying to get ahead on your work. Relax and enjoy the peace you've afforded yourself. As demanding as the holidays can be, there's no better time to step away from work for a while and spend time recharging and being with those you love. That can only work if you believe in it.