The last few weeks of every year are special for everyone, and although there are holidays that make it this way for many, I think it feels special regardless of religious affiliation. In a lot of areas, it has just started snowing (eeep!), everyone is feeling cheerful, kids are amped-as-hell, and grown-ups are sipping spicy, sparkly seasonal adult beverages everywhere you turn. There is a party every Saturday. There are probably two parties every Saturday, and you have to turn one down. (There might be more than two parties — wow, you have a lot of friends!)
But all of the joy and cheer and excitement is pretty distracting. It is hard to sit your grown-up ass down at your desk chair and plow through work during the first snow flurries of the year, when you’d rather be walking down the street with a gingerbread latte in your paw. It is hard to go to sleep so you’re well-rested for tomorrow’s presentation when old friends are back in town for the holidays and are drinking beer under the twinkly lights at a local bar, trying their darndest to get you to join them. It is hard to focus on final exams when you’re a student who has been worn-out from the semester and can’t wait to get back to your mom’s house and bake an apple pie with her.
But with these four tips, you might be able to find some balance. Here are four rules to implement in your work-life for the next few weeks that will ensure you accomplish all you need to before we hit 2018, and still leave you some time leftover to enjoy the season and all of the celebrations that come with it.
1. Prioritize your work and overschedule during work-hours.
This goes without saying, but the less time you slack and take coffee breaks and scroll through Twitter during the work day, the more you’ll accomplish, which frees up after-hours time that you’d be playing catch-up to engage in holiday festivities. Stay focused during the day — try to push all the excitement aside and do what you have to do, so you can enjoy it more later.
2. Give yourself hard stops.
Since you obviously can’t take a month long vacation to celebrate the holidays (sad), you should take control of the breaks you can allow yourself to take by making sure your off-the-clock hours don’t get taken over by any work. This is the time to take advantage of the “5” in “9-to-5” and give yourself a hard stop at the end of each workday to make sure you get the break you deserve, and have the time you need to do the things you want this month. Letting your workday bleed into your personal life a little bit happens sometimes (sad but true), but working longer-than-necessary days and further disrupting your work/life balance is better saved for a time of year when you’re not already getting major FOMO watching people enjoy holiday-themed activities while you’re chained to your desk.
3. Allow fun things to be planned on work nights.
When you work 9-to-5 hours (or longer), it is easy to fall into the trap of only allowing yourself to enjoy extracurricular or social activities on weekends. It usually isn’t a big deal — in fact, the “work during the week, have fun on weekends” system works pretty well. But during the holiday season, the amount of available festive weekends for parties, gatherings, and seasonal activities are few and finite. If you, like me, are struggling to figure out how you’re going to find time to make snow angels and eat sugar plums and cut down a Christmas tree and drink peppermint hot cocoa and make seasonal cocktails and watch your favorite holiday movies and go gift-shopping and spend time with your family with only five Saturdays in December, consider the fact that there are so many other days this month that you’ve designated as only being worthy of work. As an exception to your rule of staying in and resting up for work on all weeknights, allow yourself to go out and enjoy yourself. Hit up that holiday-themed bar on a Wednesday, go Christmas shopping on a Monday, have friends over for festive cocktails on a Thursday — it is up to you to make the month work for you, and find time to enjoy the things you want to enjoy before the season is over. If you don’t, you might find yourself fidgeting at your desk and slacking on your work as you cross off days on your calendar and watch the season pass you by without giving yourself time to enjoy it fully.
4. Give yourself ample time for sleep, but don’t obsess.
This is essentially a much less immature version of YOLO. I’m not saying you should throw your responsibilities out the window and just go crazy getting your spiked-eggnog buzz on at every corner. I’m just saying it is okay to give yourself a little break from being the responsible, goes-to-sleep-at-9pm-so-they’re-not-a-groggy-bitch-in-the-morning adult you’ve become.
It is hard to cram work duties, family obligations, fun festive outings, and a full 8-hour night of sleep into every day, but you know just as well as I do that getting a night of sleep that lasts more than two hours is imperative if you want to be at all functional during your workday. Remind yourself that just for once, in the name of enjoying yourself, it is okay to take one or two late nights. It is okay to be the last one to leave the party one evening, or have one too many seasonal drinks, and let yourself just be a little sleepy and groggy tomorrow. You’ll probably never look back and say “I wish I’d stayed in more and went to sleep earlier and spent less time with my loved ones during the holidays!”
You might not be the person in your friend group boasting a two-week vacation from work at Christmastime, or the one who can schedule themselves out of having any work to do on New Year’s Day, but you can — and should — find ways to enjoy these special weeks and make the memories that you’ll keep with you on all the other days of the year when you’re sitting at your desk wishing you were out drinking mulled wine wearing an ugly sweater.
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