Twas the nightmare before Christmas … We all know that Christmas, as lovely as it can be a particularly testing time in business. Let’s paint a picture.
We’re talking about deadlines flying by. Everyone and their dog is off with a stinking cold. Or even worse, the cheeky things have booked time off for Christmas shopping. Which they then taunt you with by posting pictures of their scrummy Christmas Costa’s to Instagram. Cheers Susan. And the clients aren’t much better!
You have a mix of clients that wanted to get everything sorted before Christmas, and now want to hold off till the new year, and those that decide they want to bring everything forward to right now, even though they assured you they wouldn’t be looking at it till new year. So you’re carefully crafted plan is out the window and all you can think about is how nice it would be to sack it all off and go do something relatively chilled and Christmassy.
Nightmare sounding relatively familiar?
Let’s see if we can take the stress down a notch, and get you smiling by the time it’s time to chuck on a Christmas jumper and eat turkey for three days.
Here’s 10 tips on how to wake up from that nightmare.
First try and leave a little earlier in a morning.
Though this isn’t always possible, if you can, it really helps. Whether that’s having time to defrost your car, or catching an earlier bus or train that’s a little less crowded. It gets you in and settled, and you may even have to time to actually enjoy a cup of something hot rather than throwing it back as quickly as you can.
It’s surprising how much less stressful your day seems if you have a few moments in the morning to just breathe. Don’t start your day panicking at the first task of getting yourself to work.
Try and organise your desk.
I know I can hear your groans from here, but it will help! If your desk infrastructure is carefully made up of notes from phone calls, post its from colleagues, that discarded wrapper from the cakes that Sharon bought in last week, a few Christmas cards from eager beavers, and you know you have a placemat somewhere under all of that for your mug. You know that I’m right with this point.
To be honest, no matter what the state of your desk is, it is always beneficial to have a little rearrange. A little wipe down and clean of everything, and even a little organise of all the bits of paper you have lying around, will create a calmer workspace and keep you a little more focused.
Have a focus point that isn’t your computer.
We all know you should rest your eyes from your screen. But when the whole office is running around like Christmas elves, it’s not the best look to be staring out the window every hour or so.
Consider a photo, or a plant, perhaps a little Christmas tree if that’s what you’re in to, to just look at something that is nearby and not a screen. Which should hopefully give your eyes a bit of a rest, and reset your stress levels back to a reasonable level.
You don’t need full on gym gear for this one. Just a chance to release a bit of physical tension that builds when you’re sat at a desk all day.
So when you get up to pop to the loo, or put the kettle on, find a spare second just to stretch out. You’ll find you are much more awake when you get back to your desk.
No, don’t just run off to go hit Sue’s costa out of her hand, just step outside. Yeh, unless you’re a smoker, this might seem a little odd to just pop outside, but it will help to get some air.
If you don’t fancy just standing there, then pop to the shop, walk around the block, go and call someone that makes you smile. Just make sure you take the time for a few gasps of fresh air.
Now we’re getting somewhere! Eating, especially something you enjoy releases all those lovely endorphins which will keep you nice and calm and away from nightmarish breakdowns.
Again, it’s about the moment of taking a moment for yourself to gain some sanity. Apparently bananas are meant to be brilliant for getting you to focus, if you can resist the Christmas treats lay around the office.
Listen to some tunes
Another that may not be possible, as is it dependant on where you work. But if you can manage it, throw on something you find quite relaxing (that perhaps isn’t ‘Last Christmas’ for the ninth time today.
There’s numerous studies that show music can improve your work rate, that it can keep you calm and improve your productivity too. Prepare that soothing Spotify playlist, and if the chit chat of the office is sending your stress levels through the roof, plug in and feel them drop again.
Give credit where credit’s due
It can be hard in any business to receive credit for what you’ve done. This is why you have to give credit to yourself to remind yourself ‘I did that’. If you’ve been through the nightmare, only to not receive all that much recognition it feels like you never woke up. Always remember to give yourself a pat on the back, even if no one else does.
And if you’re in the middle of a project, and it may be a while off till you can get to a point of recognition, perhaps make a little post it note of the good work you did during that day. Collect those notes in your notebook, your purse, hide them under your keyboard if you really want to. When you reach your ultimate nightmare day, you are not only in the practice of looking for the positive, but you also have a whole list of reasons of how awesome you are. This is just a bad day, and you do good work.
Remind yourself why
When you’re having that really tough day and all of your clients believe everything’s your fault, try to remind yourself why you put yourself through this stress. Not just the ‘to pay the bills’ or the ‘to go on holiday’ reasons. Remind yourself why you are in this job, and why you are damned good at this job.
Have a file, or page, or momentum of good projects you have worked on, and that despite today being one you can’t wait to put behind you, that you know what you are doing, and you do it well. (The ghost of you work past perhaps? Okay, maybe too corny!)
Treat yo’self (and others too)
Whether it’s promising yourself to stop by costa on the way home (yes we may be a little obsessed!), or even just taking the full lunch break you’re entitled to. Treating yourself can relax your mind that there is reward where there is work.
And don’t forget about others. I know I know, you’re probably not all that bothered about everyone you work with. But how much of a nicer environment is it when everyone’s a little more relaxed? Now you may not be able to organise group stretching, or a jog around the block, but as it is a time for food and drink, you might be able to help out with a snack. Consider a tin of chocolate, a box of mince pies, or even some satsumas if you are a particularly health driven workplace to lift everyone’s moods, and the general black cloud that might be over your office.
And you’ve got it! Hopefully your office is now a little calmer, your desk is a little cleaner, and you’ve given yourself a pep talk that will get you through till the Christmas break.
We’d love to hear about your nightmares before Christmas, and how you’ve turned them round, so why not tell your story in the comments.