There are scads of articles and motivational quotes this time of year discussing how people can use the last two weeks of the year to "get ahead." It's a great time of year to find a job, to network, to hit those stretch goals and get new clients. But is pushing yourself in the back half of December really the best idea? Are you helping or harming team dynamics and company culture by assigning a big project due by New Years? (Hint: your employees will not thank you for dropping short-turnaround projects in their laps during the holidays)
Part of the benefit of the holidays is it provides us an opportunity to slow down and connect on more meaningful levels to the people, places and things important to our lives. Not that work isn't important - it is - but we spend two-thirds of our waking day working. All year. And as the stress of the year builds, our productivity decreases. In an 8 hour workday, the average employee will only have 2 hours and 53 minutes of productivity. Ergonomics has taught us that short breaks help improve our performance and reduce on-the-job mistakes. Turns out, longer breaks are of benefit as well:
"The impact that taking a vacation has on one's mental health is profound," said Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles specializing in talk therapy told ABC News. "Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out."
Maybe taking time during these two weeks to unwind, hug your kids or read a book will do more for you than starting out 2018 mentally worn-out. Giving your employees the space to do the same helps improve holiday goodwill, employee engagement and retention.
Regardless of how long (or short) of a break you take, while you're working it's important to set realistic expectations that take into consideration holiday schedules and your own mental health. Let your employees, co-workers and bosses know when you'll be out (even if it's just for a couple of hours) and when work-in-progress can realistically be completed.
If you're having a hard time focusing, try to remove distractions by putting away your smartphone but giving yourself 7-10 minutes of every hour to "refresh" in the way that works best for you. Doesn't matter if it's goofing off online or talking at the water cooler - just give your brain a short break.
Just tuning into our 12 Days of Christmas series? Catch up here:
- The Office Party
- Video Storytelling
- Gift Giving Like a Boss
- Gift Giving at the Office
- Merry Conversations
- Christmas and Holiday Cards
Up next: The Gift of Flexibility