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4 tips to prepare for annual leave

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Amidst the holiday buzz and end-of-year hype, December can often be a stressful time for many. A 2017 study by The Guardian links this to multiple factors, with work-related demands a common concern. 

As plenty of companies set to close for their annual leave, employees are left scrambling to tie up loose ends and juggle personal responsibilities. With the right planning and preparation, however, both you and your team can ease the year’s “festive stress” while staying focused on the month’s critical tasks and pre-new year demands.

SkillsTalk explore the best tips for wrapping up your holiday work below, helping you have a productive, stress-less holiday season. 

How to prepare for annual leave

  1. Plan and prioritise.
  2. Help out where you can, but also learn to say no.
  3. Limit your distractions.
  4. Start planning for the new year.

1. Plan and prioritise.

planning concept

Your first plan of action is to prioritise. Determine what tasks need completing before the Christmas/New Year break and schedule your days as necessary. Set aside the projects that can wait until next year; and concentrate your focus on critical deadlines and current loose ends. Creating daily comprehensive “to-do” lists each day can help you keep track of progress and pending activities, while also splitting your workload into simpler, manageable tasks.

In overwhelming situations, communicate with team members on ways of effectively sharing the load. Some colleagues may just have capacity to take up more tasks, relieving you of the extra pressure. (When delegating work among employees, managers should provide workers with the appropriate tools and a detailed brief of their assigned tasks.)

Additionally, be sure to set up your automated “out-of-office” e-mail reply, notifying clients and co-workers of your annual leave and alternative lines for emergency contact. 

2. Help out where you can, but also learn to say no.    

With everyone under extra work pressure, your colleagues would appreciate a helping hand where possible. Just as how they can share the burden of heavy workloads – ensure you help them out when you find the spare time. These extra boosts of teamwork and camaraderie can bolster projects to completion well before their deadlines, and helps maintain high levels of employee morale and productivity.

Picking up extra responsibilities is also a great way to demonstrate initiative, and underscores your ability to work effectively under times of high stress. This highlights your value and capabilities as a worker, which may just benefit you in the next performance review.

Of course, be wary of over-committing. Tending to an overload of extra tasks or requests can put you at risk of burnout, a phenomena (typically caused by workplace stress) that leaves one both mentally and physically exhausted – causing your productivity levels, and overall team progress, to plummet. 

If you find yourself faced with recurring favours and work requests, be sure to set healthy boundaries by explaining your current schedule and work capacity. If you can, make it up to your colleagues by offering to pick up the slack after the holidays. 

3. Limit your distractions.

woman concentrating at work

It’s easy to fall into an endless trap of holiday preparations, event planning, and gift shopping while attempting to juggle your responsibilities at work. 

To successfully (and efficiently) wrap up your duties for the holidays, it’s important to separate your personal errands from those at the office. Focusing on both at once will only leave you stressed and overwhelmed, causing one set of responsibilities – or both – to suffer. Save the family holiday plans from when you clock out of work, or consider taking personal time off to tend to them. 

With plenty to get done the following weeks, it can also help to limit the physical distractions around you. 
Be sure to set your phone to “Airplane Mode” during busy hours, and clear your desk of unnecessary items or trinkets that may affect our concentration. If needed, you could also find yourself a quiet space in the office (or home) to work in; one free of unnecessary background noise or activity.

Lastly, try and batch all your admin tasks, these including e-mail responses, social media updates, and text messages. By tending to all of them at once at predetermined times – rather than sporadically “checking in” throughout the day, you’ll give yourself both a boost in productivity and greater focus on more critical work tasks.

4. Start planning for the new year.

Finally, once all December assignments have come to a close, it helps to start thinking about your work plans for the new year. 

Hit the ground running this January by mapping out your goals for 2021. This saves you time in preparation and “finding your bearings” when returning to the workplace; helping you start the year off with motivation and confidence. 

Start out by listing all your priority tasks for the first week of return. These could include important client calls, pending assignments, and admin tasks. This allows you to jump straight back into gear, helping your team get a good head start for the month. 

It may also help to think about any company project or responsibilities you’d like to take on for the new year. This offers you clarity with where to steer your role, and opportunities to progress your career.

End the year strong! 

Keep the holidays merry with proper planning and organisation, helping you put your best foot forward this December. The right attitude and discipline can end your year with a bang, keeping the season’s spirits high while paving the way for a successful 2021. 

Need more tips to organise your work life? Head over to our SkillsTalk blog to read more helpful tips that can improve the way you work professionally. 
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