The end of a year often brings that inevitable “sprint” to the finish line. For many people, this year’s sprint feels like it’s happening after having already run a marathon at full speed while wearing a weighted vest and drinking a glass of wine every few miles. What’s more, the specter of the impending holiday break can often feel like a safety net that will save us no matter how we spend the weeks leading up to the break. This, however, is a big mistake that we’ve seen play out often, leading to extreme fatigue, exhaustion, and even illness during your long-awaited vacation time. This is definitely not ideal when you want to reconnect with your loved ones or recharge your batteries. Before you put your head down and plow through the last weeks of 2020, hit the pause button and ask yourself: what would it look like if I did it differently this year?
A few things to think about:
1. Be realistic about what’s possible
The end of the year comes with KPIs to hit, project deadlines to meet, and reporting to complete. Many aspects of these things are out of your control and come with a certain amount of pressure that can help you to get across the finish line, as long as you're strategic about the extra load this imposes on you. Chances are, there are one or two key priorities that must be completed. Ending the year with an empty inbox would be nice, but it’s not a strategic must. So this is the perfect time to narrow your focus, simplify your schedule, and protect the time you’ve allocated to these priorities.
What are the one or two key things you feel need to be completed before the holiday break?
How can you best design your schedule during the last few weeks of the year to guarantee you complete them?
2. Don’t abandon your daily recovery strategies
Implementing your Performance Recovery strategies is an absolute must. Lean on the simple things you can do to optimize your mindset, energy level, and neurological state throughout each day leading up to your holiday break. This starts with the master recovery tool, sleep. If you must work at night, choose at least two nights per week that you get into bed before 2200 hrs, and do everything you can to maximize your sleep. During the day, go for a quick walk, listen to music, add a breathing break or mini-meditation, play with your dog, take a power nap, or even throw in a load of laundry (a new recovery option for 2020). These are just a few examples of simple breaks that can make a big impact. Aim to maintain rhythm in your day by doing something every 90-120 minutes to help you reset and stay focused.
What one or two recovery strategies could you lean on to keep yourself energized throughout your days leading up to your holiday break?
What is your plan to maximize your sleep during these next few weeks?
3. Plan some time to transition
If possible, block your last “work” day as a transition day. This will give you time and space to send out any critical emails, complete any last-minute follow-ups, set up your out of office messages, and clear your mind of work. On that day, include some reflection on the successes and learnings from this year, setting the stage for a great transition into vacation mode. Planning this dedicated transition gives you the peace of mind that you've worked on your key priorities and you've set yourself up to have some downtime.
What day will you use as your “transition day”?
We believe that taking a more strategic approach to the end of the year not only sets the stage for a more productive and fulfilling December, it also helps you manage your fatigue so you can maximize the moments you’ll get with your loved ones (even if they're on a Zoom call) over the break.
We wish you a healthy, fulfilling break filled with many special moments. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts.