How to Manage Your Schedule and Beat Deadlines During Holiday Season

Once the yuletide season comes rolling in, schedules  and to-do lists suddenly get filled and time seems to lessen at a quicker pace than usual. Whether you’re a business owner or a staff member, the merry mix of project deadlines, business meetings, shopping trips and reunions can add more pressure and cause you unnecessary stress.

The good news is that you can try to avoid the holiday-induced stress and actually enjoy the yuletide cheer this season brings. Here are some tips to get you started:

Plan early and make a to-do-list.

The Christmas rush is called as such for valid reasons—it happens towards Christmas and everyone’s in a rush! You don’t need to be part of this yearly cycle. Planning early and knowing what you need to do ahead of time gives you the power to command when and how much time you can allot for each task, instead of cramming through all of them.

If it’s too late to plan early, then at least plan. Write down your deliverables, break them down into smaller tasks and take note of the details and the deadline.

Prioritise tasks and schedule everything.

What do you need to accomplish today? What needs to be submitted tomorrow, or in two weeks? Which clients are having their vacation early and therefore need output delivered soonest? Setting priorities and plotting a schedule will allow you to organise your workflow and utilise your time more efficiently. Who knows, you might just have time for a quick nightcap after a long day of hard labour!

Make a holiday calendar and share it with colleagues.

If you’re going to be the busy bee who’s buzzing around, hopping from one meeting and then to a family retreat the next, better make a calendar that will help you keep track of your activities and inform colleagues when you’ll be reporting for work and when you’ll be spending your holiday off.

Don’t over schedule—keep goals realistic.

The goal is for you to finish and deliver the desired output, so it’s always better to set goals and timelines that are within your capacity. If you put too much on your plate, chances are you won’t be able to finish it.  Remember that work hours may extend but work days don’t. It’s okay to be ambitious and aspire for greater things— but be realistic.

Constantly communicate and set expectations.

In any kind of work, whether you’re collaborating with a team, remotely assisting a business owner or delivering leads to a client, results are expected. These expectations must be set from day one, and when you set expectations, make sure that these are expectations that you can meet, or better yet, surpass. It’s always better to under promise and over deliver. If there will be delays for any reason, keep your colleagues and stakeholders in the loop to avoid possible conflict.

Focus on one project or task at a time and deliver.

In our desire to surpass expectations and please clients, our can-do attitude prompts us to accept whatever assignments are thrown our way, regardless of the time frame we are given. The tendency is for projects to overlap, which distributes our attention among different tasks. Instead of being able to deliver within deadlines, this could sacrifice the quality of one’s work and take even longer.

If you can’t avoid multitasking, ask for help.

It happens—working on several projects simultaneously isn’t a novel concept anymore. Multitasking has become a skill that is desired by business owners. This practice however does not always ensure a smooth workflow; on the contrary, it often results in having too many overlapping tasks that need to be accomplished all at the same time.

If you cannot help working on multiple projects all at once, at least learn to delegate tasks that can be endorsed to people you can trust. At the end of the day, the most important thing is get things done, not hoard all the credit. Get new people on board, if you must.

Take a break when you need it.

Admit it: you are NOT a superman/woman. You have your limits and there’s only so much you can do. If you need to roll up your sleeves and work harder, that’s just great; but when the need for you to fold your cape and rest arrives, acknowledge it. Overworking results in the unnecessary stress we’re all trying to avoid, especially in this season of joy and giving. Let yourself enjoy the holidays like everyone else.

These are just a few things to help you manage your schedule and beat deadlines during the hectic yet joyous yuletide season. Whether you’re working in-house or offshore in the comfort of your own home, running your own business or supporting one, you deserve to de-stress and have a happy holiday.

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