Annual celebrations and vacations offer much-needed breaks from the everyday stress of work. However, no matter how many parties and fun activities (or naps!) you cram into your time off, you’ll have to return to the grind—and you’ll want to be prepared.
During the first few weeks of the new year, or after an extended holiday or vacation, it’s important to set boundaries so you can catch up on the backlog of projects while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This panel of Forbes Coaches Council members share their best tips for catching up after a well-deserved holiday. Here’s what we have to say.
1. Keep, Delegate, Defer Or Dismiss
Categorize your work to set boundaries. Make a list of everything on your plate, then divide each task into four areas: “Keep,” “Delegate,” “Defer” and “Dismiss.” Keep work that you alone must do because it requires your expertise. Delegate tasks that develop your employees and give them exposure and visibility. Defer work that doesn’t require a quick completion. Dismiss things that are not mission-critical. – Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC
2. Define And Express Your Work Priorities
Let family and friends know when you’re focusing on your work. Come from a place of kindness and empathy, and tell them that you’ll happily respond to them when you’re done. Stay focused. Turn off notifications and the sound on your devices and establish a set work time. Working three highly focused hours is more productive than being at your desk all day and not giving any one thing your full attention. – Michela Quilici, MQ Consulting and Business Training, Inc.
3. Minimize Your Distractions
One of the best ways to set boundaries is to eliminate “weapons of mass distraction.” These can include having your phone notify you every time you get a social media post, email or news alert. Turn off your phone while you work and notify people that you will be “out of pocket” for the next hour. When you set up boundaries that you only check your email twice a day, between certain hours, you win! – John Livesay, The Pitch Whisperer
4. Work Hard, Play Hard
I’m a big believer in carving out uninterrupted time for work and play. It doesn’t always turn out as a perfect balance, but it’s important to create the space for both intentionally. I like to tackle one big thing at work each day; then I can be confident that I’m not overextending myself with an endless to-do list. Plus, with fun activities planned, there’s something to look forward to! – Carolina Caro
5. Create A Weekly Schedule In Advance For Personal And Work Tasks
Making time for those you care about is critical for maintaining quality relationships. To do this, talk with family and find mutually agreed upon times to spend together. Also, set aside time every day to tackle a few personal chores so you avoid getting too far behind in things that affect your emotional well-being. – Beth Kuhel, Get Hired, LLC
6. Stay In The Moment
Conscious participation is actively experiencing our interactions in the present moment. We may reflect on the past and think about the year ahead, but our most valuable interactions are occurring in the here and now. Align your choices by defining what is most important to you each day. Honor these choices by giving them your attention now, and the future will have its moment when the time comes. – Erik Fredrickson, Erik Fredrickson Coaching
7. Get Harder Tasks Out Of The Way
Procrastination is the enemy of efficiency. Focusing on getting the hard stuff out of the way now gives you more time to focus on the things you enjoy later. Ranking tasks in order of importance can help you prioritize, along with scheduling specific time frames for important tasks. Make the most of natural energy peaks to tackle the tough tasks and get into the flow. – Tracey Grove, Pure Symmetry Coaching and Consulting
8. Honor Your Values
Get clear on your values professionally and personally. Then, list your top five values, such as energy, contribution, flow and so on. Use your values as guideposts for making decisions. Evaluate if an activity honors one (or more) of these values. If not, ask yourself why you’d do it. Understandably, there are some tasks you have to do. Prioritize these tasks and those that align with your values. – Rosie Guagliardo, InnerBrilliance Coaching
9. Set Company Standards
The best way to set boundaries for your company is to establish a set of companywide standards or nonnegotiables. Simple things like not starting meetings until after 10 a.m., or designated quiet times or even designated times for question asking will help to create a culture where people are respectful of one another’s time and ease back into the flow of a work week post-holidays. – Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience
10. Block Out Your Time
We tend to complete the items we make time for. At the beginning of each week, identify your core targets and then put them into your calendar. They are now an appointment. All items get a slot—family time, chores and work activities. This allows you to have clarity on what needs to be accomplished, create a workable schedule and also set the boundaries to make sure nothing gets missed. – Clara Capano, Capano Consulting
11. Start With What Inspires You
I think January is one time in the year when it’s okay to ride the wave of celebration and start with the tasks that inspire you the most. Your thinking will be fresher, which sparks better ideas. You’ll feel more productive and get some quick wins under your belt. Your family will also get to enjoy a more relaxed you for a little while longer before the grind kicks back in. – Gabriella Goddard, Brainsparker Leadership Academy