With the office Christmas party invitations flooding in, and end of year meetups filling up your calendar, not to mention that Woolies Christmas mince pies are already getting shelf space – you’re right in feeling that the silly season is fast approaching.
But before you find yourself spinning, take a moment to reflect and prepare to attain a sufficient and sustainable balance in all the areas of your life, so that you can still be productive and have fun amidst the goings-on of the season. One thing is for sure, you are going to have to adjust your schedule. Pretending that your rigid work-study-life programme is still valid through December is probably the biggest mistake you can make.
Don’t allow tiredness, burn out and loss of energy to deplete your self-esteem and confidence levels over this demanding time of year. Because there is no energy in the pit of low self-esteem to build confidence and keep yourself going.
Hard Truth 1: You can’t go to all the parties
You are going to have to look at all the social engagements coming up in the next few months and decide which ones you can sacrifice. Ask yourself, “do I really have to attend that birthday party or can I simply send a gift and an apology?” Make sure that the time you spend on socializing is meaningful and with the people that are important to you and support your future.
Hard Truth 2: Social media is eating away at your time
A study conducted over 185 million working hours done by rescuetime.com, found that one easily spends 21% of the workday faffing on news, entertainment and social media sites. And the flip side of the coin? We are taking 26% of our work home with us. It’s not difficult to then deduce that if we spent no time on the culprit sites at work, we’d get more done and thus have less to catch up on at home. The sites that need severe restriction or just outright blocking during working hours are YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and Amazon.
If this stat makes you a bit uncomfortable, I recommend you install the ScreenTime app on your phone. It’ll monitor which sites your frequent and for how long – this reality check is astounding. You can also use the app to set limits on yourself. And at this time of year, it might be a necessary measure.
Hard Truth 3: You’re wasting time on emails
Did you know that with easy access to IM and email, we tend to check our comms every six minutes? That’s 10 times an hour. And while being available to answer emails and work messages instantaneously can be an advantage, it does serve as a major interruption. While checking email seems quite innocent, it does cause one to lose concentration which means it takes more time to get back to where we were mentally to continue with the task, we were busy with in the first place.
It takes an average of about 25 minutes (23 minutes and 15 seconds, to be exact) to return to the original task after an interruption, according to Gloria Mark, who studies digital distraction at the University of California, Irvine. Multiple studies confirm this.
While the answer to this issue is certainly not to ignore emails from your boss, you should be setting some boundaries and expectations regarding your availability for replying to messages. Block out time in your day for specific tasks as well as time to attend to emails and messages. If need be put an email autoresponder on to manage the expectations of those sending you mail. You’ll be astounded at how much more productive you can be without email interruptions.
Hard Truth 4: You have to let go of perfection
Many overachievers develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age, a habit that is hard to break as you mature and have more responsibilities. It’s good to get some perspective and realise that perfectionism may be out of reach. If you know you have perfectionistic tendencies, then try and reframe and focus on progress as a measure of success. Avoid burn out and rid yourself of the need to be perfect.
Hard Truth 5: You have to prioritize You
The busier and crazier the schedule gets, the more important it becomes to stick to a routine: a healthy sleeping plan, a vigorous exercise regime, a nutritious and wholesome eating plan, and nurturing mindfulness or meditation practices.
The beauty of a routine, a practice where you devote a certain amount of time to doing something meaningful and of high value to you, is that it is your own power of purpose that keeps you going.
These things will keep you resilient and help you to manage stress and maintain focus on things that are important rather than urgent. You can’t keep going unless you refresh and replenish yourself continuously.
- A flexible and realistic festive season routine is essential for motivation and to keep your spark alive.
- Regular weekly exercise will combat tension and anxiety.
- Eating well by choosing nutritious foods over junk food will sustain and replenish your energy levels.
- Good quality 8-hour sleep every night will literally keep you sane and ensure that all your bodily processes work as they should. I can recommend the audiobook Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson – get it here.
- Mindfulness keeps you present, living in the moment and connected to those around you, which strengthens relationships and makes you happy.