Working Over the Holidays: It Doesn't Have to Suck


Working over the holidays is not fun for anyone. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or the simple fact that there are cookies as far as the eye can see, there are likely other activities you'd rather partake in during the last weeks of December than work. Some people are fortunate enough to get paid time off over the holidays and others work hard so they can take a few free days, but it's becoming more common to have work to do during the most wonderful time of the year. We're here with tips to help you get it done and not hate it quite as much. For readers not in charge of your own schedule:

Mentally compartmentalize your days.

While compartmentalization is not usually the first technique that mental health professionals recommend, it can help you to get through the work day. Try to think of your days in terms of "work time" and "fun time" and let each section stay in their own time. When you go to work, be completely there in every way: focus on the customer, meet your deadlines, be the best little worker elf you can be. Giving your job all of your attention will help it to go by more quickly and occupy your mind so you're not thinking about everything you're missing out on. Then when you're home and doing fun, holiday activities, forget about work! Leave that junk behind. Eat some cookies. Wrap some presents. Hug your family.

Be thankful for the time that you get to celebrate.

If I had someone tell me to be thankful for the two minutes I was home before I was ringing them out at Starbucks on Christmas morning or something, I'd probably tell them to get the heck outta town. However, hear me out: it is wonderful that you get to have just a tiny bit of time off at all. Maybe you can squeeze in family dinner before a shift or your friends moved your annual celebration a few hours back until you get out of work. It's not ideal, but it's something. You found time to decorate the tree and you need to spend time with your little sister anyways, so invite her to meet up with you for gift shopping. Make the most of the in-between times you can find to be festive and try to spend them with people you care about.

For freelance readers and/or those who work for yourselves:

Schedule work time before you start festivities.

It can be hard to sit down and work when there is fun all around you. This is especially true when you head home for the holidays and it's family reunion every single day. We recommend you sit down before your trip to plan when you're going to get work done and warn your family ahead of time. Send them a reminder e-mail, make a color-coded schedule, do whatever you have to do to let them know you'll be out of commission during that time. Scheduling a few hours of work beforehand will set both you and your family in the mindset that this is a definite event that's happening. They can make plans around you, but during these few hours, they should pretend like you don't exist.

Pretend like you don't exist during work hours.

Now that you have your work time set aside, you need to use it. It can be tempting to grab your laptop and head to the couch with the idea that you'll write during the commercials, but we're here to tell that you're kidding yourself. Work isn't going to get done unless you focus on doing it. Find a quiet room and bring your most soundproof headphones. Turn on your focus music playlist and use a productivity app, like Forest, where you plant a tree on your phone and you'll kill it if you use the phone before its fully grown. Your family will understand and you know you'll get the work done faster if you just buckle down and do it. It'll feel good to cross something off of your to-do list and be able to focus back on celebrating the season.

Get to it, tigers. Buckle down and get your work done and then go enjoy the holiday season! We'll be here when you get back.