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Creating a holiday work-life balance can seem beyond impossible. Indeed, work-life balance at any time is a challenge. But for many businesses, the 4th quarter means closing out the fiscal year, meeting sales quotas and deadlines, and setting budgets and plans for the upcoming year. Meanwhile, on the home front, there are family gatherings, winter vacations, school pageants, decorations to hang and presents to buy.

Stress factors can approach cosmic proportions. Bosses become short-tempered. Everyone at work wants vacation time at the same time. Difficult relatives become holiday house guests. Blizzards and hazardous travel lurk in the background.

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Start now and set your plan for creating work-life balance this holiday season. Consider the following tips to keep work demands in line:

  • Create a year-end calendar. Write down all your work obligations and the deadlines. Block out time to meet deadlines, and allow some slack for unforeseen projects and delays. Don’t be caught short scrambling to complete a major project that slipped through the cracks.
  • Start gathering and compiling year-end data now. Don’t wait until the year is complete. Do what you can now and add the last few weeks’ worth of information when it is available. Every hour spent now is an hour less at year end.
  • Prioritize. Decide what can wait until after the new year. Tackle non-critical projects when things are a bit more sane.
  • Set vacation schedules now. It is much easier to juggle calendars before everyone has bought non-refundable tickets, or promised their kids the once in a lifetime trip to Disney World.
  • Simplify or postpone holiday celebrations at work. Parties and events are important, to recognize staff and celebrate together. But sometimes, less is more. Ask staff what they would like. A December holiday gala, while well-intentioned, may be seen as a dreaded obligation rather than a relaxed celebration.

Recognize that the 4th quarter in business, and the holiday season in general, can be hectic. A holiday work-life balance is attainable. Be proactive. Insofar as possible, spread the workload and start now to prepare for year-end. Take time to plan, work in advance, and create the space to enjoy the holiday season.

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