Keys to Effective Time Management during the Holidays

It goes without saying that the holiday months are the busiest time of the year. Almost everyone’s calendars and to-do lists begin to be filled with holiday errands, party plans and travel arrangements. Although the holidays can make for a jolly season, they can also be stressful in both your personal and professional lives. In many industries, end-of-the-year business, reporting and accounting make for longer hours and work to take home. Between this, holiday parties and wrapping everything up before the long break, you also need to find time for shopping, gift making and travel. If you aren’t careful, important tasks and obligations can end up becoming last-minute emergencies. But with some pre-planned time management, you can prepare yourself to stay on top of your work load and make it through the busy season. Consider these five tips for time management during the holidays:

1. Plan out your calendar.

There are surely going to be many important dates and deadlines that are going to come up during the holiday season, so it’s important to write down everything down as you discover it and schedule time to take care of it. Make sure to allow yourself some extra time and not completely cram your schedule just in case unplanned events or unforeseen issues come up.

2. Don’t over commit.

When things get busy, you can sometimes feel like you can take on more to help out your coworkers or you can make time for every holiday parties. But this can easily lead to becoming overworked and overwhelmed, forcing you to drop the ball on assignments you volunteered for or skip out on events you committed to attending. Rather than deal with this fallout, pace yourself. Don’t over promise, but do more if you find you’re up to it.

3. Schedule some down time.

It’s always a good idea to take breaks to refresh your mental faculties. Even if you aren’t feeling particularly overwhelmed, taking the time to take a relaxing walk or even a nap will keep you energized and reduce the likelihood of burnout. You don’t have to take a large amount of time to unwind; just five minutes every half an hour can keep you motivated and in the holiday spirit.

4. Keep your professional and personal plans balanced.

Focusing too much on one to the detriment of the other will surely cause problems at some point. Whether it’s skipping out early on work to attend a friend’s holiday get-together or showing up late to family dinner because you need to wrap up work, mixing up your professional and personal obligations can’t bode well. There needs to be a balance of time and priorities between your work, family and friends, and the only way you can strike it is by scheduling in everything that you can reasonably handle and sticking to that plan.

5. Try to take care of personal errands early.

Get your holiday shopping done as early as possible! That’s pretty much a no-brainer, but taking care of personal errands early will leave you valuable extra time and flexibility when important work-related deadlines pop up close to your vacation days. Fitting in the occasional errand during working hours may seem like a good idea at first, but can easily turn into added stress or distraction, so think before you try to juggle too much.

Bio: Harrison Kratz is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, the online business degree offered through the University of North Carolina which also offers some of the nation’s top MBA programs. Harrison also sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Operation: Social Santa.

This is a sponsored post from our friends at 2U.