Clear your desk for Christmas - time management tips

Caroline Cassidy

While Christmas is supposed to be a time to relax and enjoy family, friends and the season of good will, for many the pre-Christmas work rush can make those few days out of the office seem more trouble than they're worth. Avoid office overload and work stress this year with these time management tips.

Woman stressed at work
Woman stressed at work

Make a plan
In the lead-up to Christmas, it will quickly become apparent that there is an ever-growing list of things that need to be done before everyone heads home. Whilst it's important to know what's in store, try not to think of the big, daunting picture. Instead, focus on the day-to-day. Take 20 or 30 minutes at the start of your day to plan your daily to-do list instead of getting bogged down in a week's worth.Careers advice

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Once you have a list of tasks in front of you, it's easier to prioritise, and any busy worker will know just how important prioritising can be. Forget about unessential email replies and plan to get those priority actions done and dusted first. If needs be, arrange a meeting with your staff or line manager to confirm what's urgent and what jobs will take precedence on a daily basis.

Book your time
You've planned and prioritised, now stick to it by booking appointments for yourself, not just in your head, write them down. Estimate how long each task will take and assign part of your day to achieving the desired result, and remember to allow for the inevitable interruptions. It can also help to take a few minutes before a call or specific job to decide what the outcome should be - that way you can mentally tick it off when it is successfully completed or make a note of what needs to be done the following day.

We all need a little help from our friends or colleagues when the going gets tough, and the pre-Christmas going is usually just that. Don't take on more than you can handle - if you are in a position of responsibility at work, lighten the load by enlisting staff members to help tie up any loose ends. And if you're struggling to cope under an unrealistic workload, it's okay to say 'no' to your boss. Try to calmly explain your reasons by listing what you already have on your list and the time you estimate it will take to complete all those tasks.
Block it out
Part of the problem with the build-up to Christmas is that everybody, colleagues, suppliers and clients alike, are in the same boat, and all hoping to get out of the office on time or even early before the break. But it can be nigh-on impossible to get everything done if you succumb to the slightest distraction. For those priority tasks that absolutely have to be done as per your schedule, put a mental 'do not disturb' sign in place - remind yourself that every email and phone call you receive does not need to be attended to at that very instant.

Lastly, with your inbox cleared and your workload completed, switch off - those tasks still to be done have been left until the New Year for a reason.

Have you mastered the pre-Christmas work rush plan? What are your top time management tips? Leave your comments below...