With a quick blink of the eye, the holiday season is upon us again. As legal professionals, this means that in addition to all our regular work stress, we have to think about things like gift shopping, holiday parties, gatherings with friends and family, as well as cooking and baking an endless stream of holiday fare. And while all of those things are undoubtedly fun, they also add multiple “to-do’s” to our already overflowing lists.
Even though it may not seem like it, there are ways to get through the holiday season without falling behind at work and without losing your mind. Here are some of our favorite tips for staying on top of personal and professional tasks throughout the holidays.
#1: Take time off if you can
Taking time off during the holidays can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you want to save your vacation days for actual vacations. On the other hand, it can be an incredibly productive exercise to have a couple of mid-week days off solely for the purpose of taking care of your holiday tasks.
And, let’s be honest – in the legal profession most of us have the luxury of a little down time late in the year. Clients are out of the office, courts are closed for multiple days, and work flow can be lighter than usual. If we were in retail or hospitality, it would be crazy to take time off this time of year. In our line of work, however, we can (and perhaps should) typically get away with it.
#2: Reward yourself
It is always a good idea to reward yourself for your own accomplishments. During the holidays, however, the self-reward system can be an exceptional way to get work done with all the holiday festivities are swirling around you.
For example, you might tell yourself that if you get the first draft of a brief written by the end of the day, you’ll allow yourself to bake holiday cookies in the evening. You can also use self-rewards to motivate completion of your holiday tasks – like allowing yourself to meet friends for happy hour once you get 50% of your gift shopping completed.
#3: Be festive
Even though the compilation of personal and professional tasks during the holidays can be daunting, it is also a great time to bring some levity to the office. While you certainly have to be mindful of the appropriateness of decorations in the workplace, those decorations can bring all sorts of positive energy to the firm. So, go ahead – put up some lights, cover someone’s cubicle in wrapping paper, and bring some cheer to your co-workers.
Given that so many holidays fall at the end of the year, the holiday season is a good time to reflect on your past year and plan for improvement going forward. Ask yourself what you’re proud of in the past year, what you could have done differently, and what you wish you’d done to make the past year even more successful. Write it all down and use those thoughts as a motivator for success in the coming year.
#5: Connect your work family with your real family
During the holidays, many firms host parties and invite employees to bring their spouses or families along for the festivities. While some people dread the office party, most employees view it as a positive experience. The parties really can be a great time to connect your two worlds. Introducing your partner to the people you talk about day in and day out can really improve your partner’s understanding of (and tolerance for) all the hard work you put in.
#6: Be mindful
As noted, the holidays can be incredibly stressful. As such, they can also be a time for mindless over-consumption. Whether it’s food, alcohol, or shopping, each of us tends to overindulge during holidays. Knowing that going into the season, this is a great time to practice mindfulness. Be aware of the work you need to get done, the holiday preparations that await you, the opportunities you’ll have to consume in excess. Then take a step back, and consciously prepare for how you’re going to handle all of those situations. You may just be surprised of the positive effect on your entire season.
#7: Maintain healthy boundaries
This may be the most important tip of all. During the holidays, you may be tugged in 50 different directions at once. You may have family meals to prepare, school programs to attend, holiday charity drives to organize – and all this on top of your regular job. As different people ask you to do different things, just remember to maintain healthy boundaries. If you know you don’t have time to do something, politely decline. You will thank yourself later.
We hope these tips help you get through this busy season. All of us at One Legal wish you healthy and happy holidays.