When you work from home, there is always the assumption that you have extra time— you can get the laundry done, have dinner on the table, take care of the kids and make a living. When I worked from home, friends would call or ask me to do things because I, of course, had the time- I worked from home, right? Wrong! The bottom line is that if you aren’t at your desk working, you aren’t working—and for most of us that also means making NO money! We have talked in previous newsletter articles about the importance of your work habits when you work from home and that becomes even more necessary at the holidays. All of the extra demands on your time—shopping, decorating, baking, cards—all add stress to our already hectic lives. When working from home, it is very easy to get distracted by the holiday preparations that need done, but now more than ever, you need to stick to that work schedule. You want to be able to pay for all of those Amazon.com boxes being delivered to your door, right? Not to mention, falling behind on your work may just land you on Santa’s naughty list with your account manager! The best way to avoid this is to have a plan in place that you can easily follow. One that will keep you on track, on time, and ready for the holidays without sacrificing your work time. Knowing that you have a plan to follow will also help to alleviate some of that added holiday stress.
- Schedule it! In your Outlook calendar, Blackberry, or even a printed calendar —whatever system works for you—make a plan that goes through the holiday season. Define your work hours and put them on the calendar! Whether you work daytime, night shift, or a split shift—block these times in your calendar and do not plan to get other things done at this time. Next, define your holiday prep times and put them on your calendar. Schedule a couple of hours in your day for baking. Schedule an evening time of 3 hours to get all of your cards written out. Write out your holiday presents shopping list and schedule yourself a block of time to head to the mall or do some online ordering. Make note of holiday parties and festivities so you are sure to have anything related to those completed for when the day arrives. By making a plan on your calendar, you will know when you are scheduled to get each task done and that each task has its own time. This will help to alleviate that dreaded feeling of being in one place but constantly thinking, “I really need to get those cards out” or “I haven’t bought one present yet, I have to start”. By having everything scheduled into your day, your mind is free to work on the task at hand because every task is mapped out for you and has its own “appointment time.”
- Allow for a little “wiggle room.” Think of the old quote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” Unexpected things can and probably will happen—your child gets sick, every store is out of your child’s “most wanted” toy on their list, a bad snowstorm keeps you from getting where you need to be—-anything can throw a wrench into our schedule. When things like this happen, do your best to keep your work schedule a priority. Give yourself a little breathing room in your calendar to allow for the unexpected.
- Lower your holiday expectations! I can’t tell you how much this will lower your stress level. I think we all try to do so much these days, but around the holidays, it is even worse. We want to have a perfect house wonderfully decorated, fresh baked cookies of every kind, beautiful cards sent to our friends and family….but add that to working, kids schedules, your every day chores….it can all become too much! You have to remember you are only human and there are only 24 hours in a day—we can’t change that. I definitely had to remind myself this year that there is only so much I can really do. In July, I got very enthused at a Stampin Up party (an at-home party company that sells rubber stamps, ink, and other wonderful card making supplies) and decided I was making my own Christmas cards this year. I ordered paper, Christmas stamps, and beautiful burgundy and dark green ink. I had my card design laid out in my head and they were going to be awesome. I would get them all done by October so no worries! Well, fast forward to present day (December 17th) and my card making supplies are still in the box they were shipped in…. I started to stress about this and trying to figure out how I was possibly going to make 60 cards and still get them out before the holiday is long gone. Then after looking at my calendar and considering my work obligations, hockey and skating practices for the kids, and getting ready for our annual holiday party, I realized — I wasn’t. At this point this is not going to happen! I could try–stay up until 2:00 a.m. several nights in a row, lose sleep, become irritated. Then I thought—are any of my family or friends really going to care that they don’t receive a handmade card from me this year? No. I will still put it on the wish list for next Christmas, but for this year, I am taking a picture of my kids and sending it to Walmart for a ready-made picture card. It wasn’t what I had expected for my cards this year, but it will still be just fine. After I made the decision to let the handmade cards slide this year, I had such a huge sense of relief! Think of the old Grinch cartoon—“it came without ribbon, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes, and bags!” While all of the extra touches are very nice, the holiday will come just the same and can be just as special even if you don’t have time to assemble a gingerbread house from scratch or string popcorn garland. Take the time at the holidays to really enjoy the company of your family and friends—don’t worry that you only got one batch of cookies made and even those are a little dark on the bottom, half your lights on your porch stopped working, or you didn’t get all the decorations up that you wanted. It’s okay! It is the memories that you make with your loved ones that you will hold dear for years to come and isn’t that truly what this holiday season is really all about?