Like most of you, I’m trying to stay merry. I still have holiday cards and packages to mail. Next week, my kids will be off school, I will still have shopping to so and I’ll be finishing up year-end articles. But I will NOT become stressed. I will try to slowly sip hot chocolate, listen to the cheery deck-the-halls music on store speakers and enjoy the fa-la-la of the season.
For those of you like me, trying to rise above the chaos, I decided to offer up some tips in my Miami Herald column for finding that work life balance over the next few weeks. I called on some experts to pitch in with ideas. If you have more to add, feel free to chime in.
Tips to control holiday season stress
Think Teamwork: “Usually people in the holiday spirit are willing to pick up some slack for others who need an hour or two here or there,” she says. “Sometimes people want to attend their child’s holiday party or show, or just get a couple hours of less busy shopping time in.”
She has found co-workers are willing to take on a few extra calls to give each other a longer lunch. “It can be a win-win because it comes full circle when you need that extra time yourself.”
Priortize invitations: Holiday parties be ideal for meeting new people, making potential work contacts and reuniting with previous co-workers, particularly if you spent most of the year focused inward. But overdoing it can zap your energy — fast.
You are going to need to make some decisions. Erbi Blanco-True participates in numerous community groups in addition to her job as director of community development for Great Florida Bank in Miami. That means loads of invitations to holiday cocktail parties. In the past, Blanco-True would dash from one event to the next each night, trying not to disappoint the host. On the weekends, she found herself too exhausted to get her holiday shopping done. This year, she has limited herself to one party a night. “I’ve realized that so many people go to the events that unless you are key to the organization, if you don’t go it’s not a big deal.”
Modify shopping habits: Many of us run ourselves ragged coming up with presents for people we don’t care that much about. Even more, we get upset when we don’t get the reaction we had expected when we give a gift. If you want to find some balance during the holidays, buy or make presents only for the people you really care about, and the heck with sending out 1,000 cards or mailing gifts to relatives you rarely speak with during the year.
This year, you might consider tracking your shopping and receipts in one place, either in a notepad or using some of the new tech devices. By making use of lightweight scanners and mobile apps you can automatically collect your online shopping receipts so you don’t lose track of your spending or the record of what you bought. An additional bonus is that keeping electronic receipts could save you time when tax time rolls around.
Look for short cuts: Hundreds of new time saving apps are popping up to help manage holiday-related stress. One such app is GrubHub, which makes it easier to leave work, hit the mall and then order dinner from a local restaurant and pick it up or have it delivered. Another useful app is Shop Savvy Barcode Scanner, which cuts out driving from store to store to find bargains. The app allows you to scan an item and see where the better deals are in other stores. It also goes a step further and gives you a map showing you exactly how to get there.
Leticia Barr, founder of TechSavvyMama.com, says a couple of key devices that she added to her home office make a big difference this time of year. First, a good printer is crucial. “You can use it to make a last-minute greeting card or a gift tag.” She also recommends a business card scanner, which will come in handy when you return from a holiday networker. For example, CardScan by Dymo allows you to scan both sides of the business cards at the same time and drag and drop, import and manage contacts.
Learn to unplug: All around me, people are planning their holiday time off or gearing up to use the last of their vacation days. We all know it’s increasingly challenging to take a real break from the office. If you are committed to enjoying time off before the new year, Yahoo! Web Life Expert Heather Cabot advises taking some deliberate steps with email.
First, craft a clever out of office message for your email account with specifics about when you should be contacted. Next, suspend your social media alerts and e-newsletters. Most importantly, think before you send email, particularly the day before you take off on vacation. (For every email you send, you can expect double the responses in return). Lastly, unsubscribe from email you opted to receive but don’t read.