…in the run-up to Christmas. By Esme Banks Marr, and the Magenta team…
Christmas is only a week away today! … And the Christmas parties are in full swing. You’ve probably been at your desk with a hangover or two the last few weeks, and the work is piling up, as you’ve been travelling to, and catching up with, clients a lot this month. It’s easy to get a bit run down and start feeling the pressure of having a working month that’s slightly shorter than the other 11 of the year. It’s really important, during this final stretch (cue Chariots of fire theme tune), that you take a few steps to ensure you keep up the momentum (for your own sake, and the sake of your work) – to end the year on a high.
Here are some common worries this time of year, and how you can make sure you overcome them, so you don’t leave your desk dreading coming back in January.
1. We drink more
If you’re out and about attending festive networking events and meeting friends and colleagues for dinner, do try and drink in moderation. And stay hydrated! Days of drinking can cause your body to become dehydrated, leaving you more susceptible to migraines (like you need another reason to stress!?). It’s also important to eat well, even if you’re working late, stay nourished – so your body can fight nasty germs this time of year, and you can recoup from any late nights easier.
2. Social media makes it look like everyone is having fun…
When you look at your Twitter feed and everyone else is at their Christmas do, and you’re finishing up that end of year presentation… Bad times. Remember, your time will come (or it may have already). Social media is a funny thing. It is OK not to post a photo of your Christmas tree, and it’s also OK not to attend every event there is.
3. General weather gripes
This can’t be fixed. The weather is unpredictable, and let’s face it, downright cold at the moment. Just try and remember it will get brighter, and warmer! Always bring an umbrella with you, wherever you go and wear warm clothing – it’s not the time of year to travel without your scarf and a jumper – your train could get delayed and leave you freezing cold at London Bridge, for an uncertain amount of time (highly likely).
4. More social events, making us run down
Try and get as much sleep as you can. We should all always aim for at least seven hours to perform at our best. Stay hydrated throughout the day and well-nourished (not just mince pies)! Remember, you don’t have to go to every social event in the industry. Plan some get-togethers for January that you didn’t manage to fit in during the festive season. Choose the most fun / best ones and stick to it, or you’ll just get stressed going from party to party…
5. Money worries
Firstly, don’t get stressed over your secret Santa gift – you needn’t worry or spend a crazy amount. It’s only meant to be a gesture to your colleagues. There’s also no need to overspend on your Christmas gift buying in general; gifts are meant for the ones you love, and if they love you, they should realise the importance of not being out of pocket come January. Set a budget a stick to it. Maybe even consider homemade gifts, like truffles or cookies if your budget is tight.
6. You feel as though work should be winding down, and it’s not
For many industries, work picks up in December, and is more full-on than any other month. Just remember, when others are crazy in July/August, you might experience a lull and be able to take that holiday! Make a list of what needs to be done before the break and put together a plan for ticking items off every day. Don’t be afraid to say no and postpone work until the new year.
7. You have to complete the same amount of work, but with less time
Yes, December is generally a short month, work-wise – but January is a long one! So, don’t worry, work can pick up again in the NY, and you’ll have the time to action things then. Focus on ticking off those pressing and urgent items on the to-do list first.
8. Booking in end of year meetings makes your other work harder
Remember, everyone will still be there in the new year, and January is a great time for catch ups and planning meetings, to really kick the year off with a bang! There’s really no need to have a face to face with every client or stakeholder this week, the travel time and time away from your desk might end up stressing you out more – drop them a line and arrange it for January. They’ll probably prefer that too!
9. The temptation to ditch normal nutritional rules
…. and have truffles and mince pies for breakfast. While that might be ok for a day or two, a whole month of indulgence will play havoc on your productivity not to mention your waistline. Be sensible and incorporate a few treats into your day but don’t go mad. Once the office closes (if it does), you’ll have all that to come at home!
10. Getting the perfect gift for everyone is the holy grail of the festive season
But it can lead to major stress in the lead-up to the big day, especially if it’s the 18th and you haven’t bought anything for your Mum, girlfriend, husband… Don’t cram all your Christmas shopping into one hurried Saturday afternoon. Instead, buy something each day, whether it be popping out to the local shops in your lunch hour or setting aside some time to do some online shopping.
11. You have holiday left and you’ve taken it this week
If you’ve got annual leave booked this week (as you needed to take it before the end of the year), try and think of that as a positive thing. It is! Whether you’re Christmas shopping, so you don’t have to do it on Saturday, or doing some work-related admin, that’s fine! If you’re going to end up getting stressed as you “have so much to do” but needed to book a day, just log on and do a few bits with a coffee, in front of the TV, in the comfort of your own home.
12. Explain to family members what you do / how you’re doing at work.
Christmas tends to mean you’ll be seeing family members you haven’t seen for 12 months. I tend to take a very British approach when asked how I’m doing (well, I am ‘fine’) and how work is going. When asked what it is I do exactly, I usually tend to make some pop-culture analogy they’ll all get, laugh it off and walk in the direction of the brie. If you really go into it and tell them every project you’ve done this year, chances are they won’t ask again. It’s a win-win either way.
Right – there’s nothing left to say, except, have an excellent last week at work (if you’re lucky enough to break for a few days) and a very merry Christmas.