You’re almost there! How to get through the pre-holiday home-stretch at work

We are this close to vacationing-out with a hot mug of eggnog and a marathon of A Christmas Story. But with comfort and joy come sacrifices—like working your behind off in the days leading up to the holiday break. Deadlines, reports, a growing to-do list, and countless mandatorycelebrations can make it really hard to stay on track. Have no fear: We’re here with some tips for surviving the home stretch at work, so you’ll be ready for whatever the new year throws at you.

Just figure that the majority of December is probably going to disappear. With people heading out of town at different times, and with some offices and agencies closing altogether for the holidays, it’s best to plan on having crucial projects wrapped before the 20th of December. Start early, plan it out, and finish strong so you can fully relax with a piping hot glass of eggnog when the holidays finally roll around.

Put the holiday luncheons in your Gmail calendar. You don’t want to be the person who signs up to bring homemade gluten-free stuffing for 50, forgets to bake it, and consequently has an office full of hangry staff-members on her hands, DO YOU? Set a reminder. It’s a good idea.

Buy holiday candy for your desk. This is your one-way ticket to becoming everybody’s favorite office elf, assuming you’re down to share! (Pam from The Office was really onto something. . .) But really, this is your little reminder that it’s almost time to be on your merry way. Candy helps.

Re-gift that awful coin-counter you got at last year’s holiday party for this year’s gift exchange. Buying gifts for holiday functions can get pricey. Trying not to break the bank? Scope out your home for ‘like new’ stuff you don’t use, and upcycle it to someone new. We won’t tell.

If you’re working retail, give yourself some extra care. The last thing you’ll want to do after wrapping up other peoples’ gifts is spend hours doing it for the people in your life. Set aside a Sunday afternoon (maybe even take a personal day) and knock it out. Better yet: turn to the Internet! Do your holiday shopping online and avoid that familiar fatigue of stores altogether. And while you’re working those long in-store shifts, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, pack a snack, and keep your eyes on the prize (hopefully a nice end-of-year bonus).

Don’t work through lunch. It can be tempting to power through when you’re down to the wire, but try to resist the urge to eat at your desk. Give yourself a mental break, take lunch with a friend or co-worker, or maybe even catch up on a chapter from your latest book or Netflix obsession. Shutting off your work mindset—even for fifteen minutes—will ultimately make your mountain of work seem more manageable when you come back to it.

Compartmentalize. Focusing in at work is more important during the holidays than ever. To stay on track, try to keep work and personal projects separate. This means turning your work email off when you’re at home, and staying off social media during the workday. Power through and you’ll feel the sweet relief of completion!

Make a physical list. Whoever said pen and paper was out is definitely off my Christmas list. There is something SO GREAT about getting tasks out of your mind and onto paper. Make a list of things that you can physically check off as you complete them, so you can visualize that fast-shrinking number of projects separating you and quality time with family and friends.

Go to bed early this week. Keep some slots in your schedule reserved for nights in at home so you can hit the hay at a decent hour. A hot bath, cozy pajamas, and “It’s a Wonderful Life” might sound pretty good after a crazy, end-of-the-year day at work.

Establish a line of contact with your boss. If your manager is planning to be out of town a lot during the holidays, grab some time on their calendar to catch up before they peace out, and figure out how you’ll be able to reach them. Moreover, make sure expectations and deadlines are clear before people head out to celebrate.

Grab a festive coffee cup. A cutesy cup for your java or tea will make you slightly less Grinchy at work, and will give you sneak peak into the festive lights and decorations waiting for you outside the office walls.

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