Happy holidays! It’s time for most businesses to close down in observance of Christmas and the New Year. But when we’re constantly caught up in the fast pace of the office, it can be hard to stop working entirely and to enjoy the time off. A few extra days without constant meetings and incoming requests: it seems like the perfect opportunity to catch up on forgotten emails and unfinished to-do lists, or to start on projects planned for next year. Feel free to get a head start on January, but be aware that over-working – especially during the holidays – could have negative effects on family and friends, colleagues, and yourself.
A work-life balance is essential for every professional. Here are a few points to consider if you plan to keep your BlackBerry or laptop running throughout the holidays:
Out of respect to your employees or colleagues, don’t send them emails or assign them tasks on the holidays.
If you are a director or supervisor in your company, do not email your employees on Christmas or New Year’s with assignments. It could be detrimental to the morale of your staff. Your colleagues have the right to the extra time off, and if they choose to check their email and see a new to-do, they may feel frustrated at the level of work expected of them over the holidays.
Instead, if you have a question or a task for an employee, write it down in an email – but save it as a draft rather than immediately sending. Choose to send during business hours, or at least when it is not Christmas Day.
Out of respect to your family and friends, put away any devices at holiday functions.
Wherever you spend the holidays, no one will appreciate constant glances to the BlackBerry or a distracted guest still in the midst of work mode. Do a favour to your guests or hosts and turn off your cell phone or PDA while attending a holiday function.
Instead, plan in advance for the best times to work on your assignments or emails when you are not around others. If you are traveling, use the time waiting in the airport or sitting on the plane to catch up. Still have work to do when you arrive? Try to work mornings before family or guests get out of bed, so that your work does not appear to be more important than spending quality time with people that you may not be able to see throughout the year.
Out of respect to yourself, try to monitor your level of work on the holidays.
Even if you find time to courteously and discreetly work during the holidays, it could still add great pressure and stress on yourself. You might return to the office feeling like you had no vacation at all, and may have less energy to begin all the new tasks and projects that January will bring. Keep in mind that, while work is important, it is also crucial to find a proper balance that will not wear you out.
Of course, setting work aside is often easier said than done. While on holiday, set a few simple rules or guidelines to help monitor your workload. For example, decide that you will only check email two times per day, and set a time limit for each session. If you host or attend a holiday dinner, leave your phone on silent in another room, so that you are not tempted to glance down at it. Finally, try to relax and enjoy yourself! It will help you to feel refreshed and ready to return to the office and take on all your professional goals for the New Year.