Working more hours, sleeping less, overeating, worrying about money: work-related stress can hurt productivity and strain family relationships. Here are a few tips to get you through the times of the year when everything seems overloaded.
Past years are good predictors of what will happen in the coming year. Use past experiences to help you plan ahead. Planning helps reduce stress, and meticulous planning reduces stress even more. Before the busy season starts, plan for the extra work. If you’re a manager, arrange for more employees to handle the extra load. Set goals that increase efficiency. If you are an employee, adjust your schedule by starting work earlier than usual. Talk to your supervisor, and get clear instructions on handling additional work. Set your own goals about how much you will produce in a day and how you will accomplish the work. Plan for a variety of problems that might come up: “If this happens, then I will do this.” Going back to the drawing board in the middle of a crisis wastes time. Go to the drawing board now.
End-of-year and end-of-quarter seasons require extra effort and longer working hours. Simplify your evenings, and get to bed earlier than normal. Sleep is vital to your health.
Don’t give up your morning routine.
Reading, meditating, praying, exercising—these are the activities we sometimes let go of when we get busy. Yet they are the steadying influence in our days. You wouldn’t abandon the rudder of your ship when the winds pick up, so don’t skip the daily practices that keep you on track.
We all want to make the holidays perfect. We want to make tax season less stressful and back-to-school more fun. These can be the most stressful times of the year, the times we too often overprogram or set high expectations. You can simplify by making things meaningful but not magnificent. Create small moments that matter by cutting back on the big productions. Recognize that work is going to demand more hours, so cut back on social activities that take you away from family. Or recognize that the season is going to bring lots of family together, so rearrange work. The trap we sometimes fall into is trying to say yes to everything. Instead, we can focus on what is most important. Start with family: your spouse’s needs first, then your children’s, then your extended family’s. Do the same with work. What has to get done now? What can wait a week?
Remember, we get to be here. God has granted us life. We should try to fill it with joy, even when it’s stressful or difficult or doesn’t go as planned. No time of the year is going to be perfect. We have to learn to accept things as they are and as they come to us. Life is a journey. We don’t know what is around the next corner, but we are on the ride and we know it ends well.