December brings with it the onset of the festive season, and with that comes a sudden flurry of activity. Whether it is extra social gatherings, parties, school events, work dos, annual fundraisers, not to mention entertaining and last-minute work madness, it is a month of excitement and frenzy! It can also be a time of reflection, sadness and stress. If you work from home, the Christmas festivities require an extra dimension of organisation. These tips will help you prepare for Christmas when you work from home.
Organising the workload
The household admin can almost rival the length of your work to-do list in the run up to the end of the year.
From Christmas food and gift shopping, to decorating, baking, cooking, writing Christmas cards, organising Christmas activities, not to mention the usual cleaning, laundry, and your job, it is a busy time of year.
Now is the time to make not just a Christmas list but a delegation list! This is an important act of self-care.
I find it helpful to brain dump all the chores and tasks and plot them on a timeline for when they need to happen. Women traditionally, and often still today, shoulder much of the burden, so delegating tasks in good time can help to ease the workload.
Make sure you get everyone involved and draw up a Christmas action plan!
Easing the workload is also important for your own work.
We often feel pressure to wrap everything up (‘scuse the pun) before Christmas. It is a lovely feeling to have the to-do list ticked off so you can relax. But make sure you are not overloading that list and adding items that could wait until after the holidays or to the New Year.
What are you prioritising? What can you defer, delegate or simply discard?
If you are preparing work in advance, remember automation can be your friend. By having content scheduled for over the holidays, you are not worrying about jumping on to Instagram or other social media while enjoying time off.
Also think about what emails you can schedule to send and what your out-of-office auto-responder can tell people. You can direct people to certain web pages or give critical information about your working hours.
If you don’t get every item you wanted for a children’s stocking or you decline one invitation, know that it is not as important as your mental health and stress levels.
Simplicity is your friend when preparing for Christmas when working from home.
Preparing your space for Christmas
If you happen to be one of the 30% of homeworkers working from the kitchen or dining table, or even the sofa, or if you have your desk in a spare bedroom, you may find Christmas is when you get turfed out. Guests are coming, entertaining needs to happen. More of the family are home all day.
If you work in a spare room that needs vacating, think about where you can put away the office equipment and paperwork. Importantly, consider security and confidentiality. If you have people staying in a room where you work and you’re having to pack confidential documents away, make sure you have somewhere secure to keep them. Lockable cabinets, drawers, and lockers offer practical and secure storage.
Box files on shelves, pots and baskets for loose items, can keep things tidy while also looking stylish and not too much like an office in a multi-functional room.
When you work in a communal area, having a portable ‘office’ box can be really helpful. Use it to keep your most-used notebooks, stationery and paperwork together in one place that you can simply open up and get out again when you next need to work.
Set your boundaries
It can be an overwhelming time of year, and it is a good time to be reinforcing boundaries at work and at home.
Know your own limits, what you can take on, and how much fuel is left in the proverbial tank. As we approach the end of the year, many of us are starting to run towards empty.
You know yourself and what boundaries you need to put in place. Whether it is who you spend time with and what invitations you accept, to what tasks you take on for home and work.
While setting boundaries with other people can seem hard, if you have alternative solutions to offer, it can take a weight off your shoulders.
If you are hosting, it might be suggesting everyone brings a dish or a dessert. At work, it might be simply affirming your available hours, or giving a clear deadline for orders ahead of time.
Healthy boundaries will lead to a healthier (and less stressed) you.
Get in touch
Much of your communication when you work from home is virtual so keeping up with connections and your network can prove a little harder. It requires more effort to reach out and often, you don’t just start up a spontaneous chat.
This time of year gives you the perfect reason to get in touch with anyone in your network that you want to keep in contact with, or rekindle a relationship that may have gone quiet.
As James Edmondson wrote in The Homeworker magazine, volume 5, you ideally need a purpose behind contacting someone. Have in mind what you want to get out of it.
Apart from wishing them a Merry Christmas, get a date in the diary for a catch up in New Year. Think about ways you can support them, make a recommendation or an introduction, suggests Edmondson.
If appropriate, send a Christmas card for the personal touch with a handwritten note.
Make the most of this period from Christmas and into the New Year to reach out and have some meetings ready for the next twelve months.
Don’t ditch the joy
Music, crafting, carol singing, theatre… The many pleasurable elements of Christmas often involve the arts, and activities that feed our creative side.
It is really important that you do not let these pleasures fall away and get missed while you try to do everything else. They are just as important.
When we engage in art and the creative world, we are telling our brains that we are safe and have the capacity for pleasure and joy. In a relatively new field of study known as neuroaesthetics, researchers have found the arts are fundamental to our survival.
Writing in Cerebrum, Susan Magasamen, founder and director of the International Arts + Mind Lab states: “Yet despite the universal and ubiquitous utility of the arts, it’s only over the past 15 years that scientific research has finally caught up to the notion that the arts is something we can’t afford to live without.”
These aesthetic experiences deliver “heightened states of connectivity” but ensuring you keep them in your schedule gives you a much-needed break as well as a jolt of joy.
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About the author
Louise is an award-winning journalist and speaker who focuses on working from home, remote work and wellbeing. She is the founder of The Homeworker, which is dedicated to helping you thrive when you work from home. The Homeworker publishes articles that are designed to keep you healthy, happy, fulfilled, and more productive in work and life.