A recent study shows that over 80
percent of workers feel stressed
during the workday. However that number does not reflect how many of those
workers are working from home, and it surely does not reflect how much more
stressed we are during the holiday season.
Working from home comes with the many benefits of escaping the commute and having the peace and quiet to focus on your work without any office drama. It all works perfectly right up until the holidays come rolling around.
The two weeks of holiday breaks can be tedious, they are long enough to create serious productivity pitfalls but too short where changing the routine can sometimes seem unnecessary.
There were many years that the kids and I barely made it through the holiday break without some type of meltdown or burnout, so moving forward I knew that I had to implement a serious strategy to survive the two weeks.
If you can afford to take off the entire holiday break or were smart about it and planned ahead a month ago, good! However, many of us are working and will have to figure out a plan or simply did not plan ahead. In hopes of avoiding obstacles I was way too familiar with, I created a solid plan that I could easily implement during what was once the dreaded holiday break.
Consider starting your day earlier.
Before establishing your holiday work schedule for the break, consider starting earlier to help you get a jump start to your day. The early hours are always the most productive in my opinion, so use this time wisely and knock out pesky administrative tasks or perhaps you are sitting on a deadline and could use the extra time to wrap it up early.
Establish a holiday work schedule and set boundaries.
Whether you are juggling various clients or remotely working for an employer, communicate with them that you will be on a holiday schedule in order to accommodate having the kids home. Decide the hours you will be working by setting a start time, lunch break and end time. Discuss this schedule with co-workers as well as your family and set these boundaries firmly. This will let the kids know you are working but they will also get used to the schedule and know that you will break at the times designated.
Implement an effective communication system.
We use the color coding system in my house. This was originally implemented for my then 4-year-old who needed to interrupt every couple of minutes to give me a run down on a particular episode of Sesame Street. You can hang specific colored paper on your office door or wall, or use the “RAG” (red, amber, green) system by tying a colored scarf or rag to the doorknob. This lets kids know whether or not it is safe to interrupt.
Red: do not disturb unless it is an emergency, for us an emergency is blood or fire.
Amber or yellow: working, only come in if it is important (establish what important means in your home.)
Green: working but safe to come in if they need something.
Childcare is always an option, if you have it.
Never underestimate the effectiveness of childcare. For many there are either no childcare options in the area or the expense is just too heavy to bear during this time of year. You can set up a babysitter for half the day, or perhaps a couple of hours to help you get some uninterrupted work time in. Also, look into setting up playdates with your kids friends throughout the week. Playdates are a great way to get kids out of the house and save on the childcare cost.