Six Ways to Find Work-Life Balance During the Holidays

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December has arrived, and while I love this time of year, it always feels chaotic. November through early January are my busiest times of the year.

After work, I have tons of things to do – decorating for the holidays, cooking, shopping and gift wrapping. Let’s not even get started on parties!

This is one of the hardest times of the year to strike a good work-life balance, so before your calendar starts to fill (although let’s face it, it probably already has), let me share some tips that keep my life from getting out of whack.

Set Priorities
In order to achieve work-life balance, especially during the holidays, you have to understand what your priorities are. Sit down and go through the exercise of ranking your priorities. Is your top priority family time? A hobby? Volunteer work? It’s easy to drift through your day, allowing whatever is “next” to get your attention. After you establish your priorities, you’ll be able to say no to activities or events that didn’t make the cut, or at least put time limits on your participation.

Do a Time Audit
For one week, keep a log of how your time is spent. You don’t have to log each and every task – just general groups of tasks like errands, housework, etc. Does the way you’ve spent your time align with your priorities? If not, attack the time hogs with gusto in order to bring your life back into balance. Understand that your priorities may shift during the holidays, and that’s OK. Just make sure you continue to devote time to the things that are important to you — and don’t feel bad about letting other (less significant) things slide, at least temporarily.

Set Limits on Work Hours
This is easier said than done, but if work-life balance is important to you – set limits on the hours that you work and enforce them. Maybe that means you leave the office no later than 6 pm. Maybe that means you don’t work weekends. If you work from home, you may need establish firm boundaries that separate work time from personal time. As the holidays approach, it’s particularly important to carve out some extra hours for those demanding seasonal tasks, not to mention yourself (pedicure, anyone?).

If you’ve been someone that the team counts on for late hours, you should communicate the change. I get to work fairly early, but everyone knows that I’ll be out the door at 5 pm sharp.

Get Help
If running errands, cleaning house, or doing yard work are eating up a large amount of your time, your life is going to seem out of balance. If you can afford it, hire out some of these tasks — even if it’s just temporarily, while you navigate this busy period. If you can’t, at least remind yourself that you don’t have to have a perfectly cleaned house or the best landscaped yard on the block. Scale back your expectations in order to keep your priorities aligned with the time you spend on them.

Blame the smartphone, but more and more employees are checking work email in the evenings, on weekends, and even on vacation. Perhaps you can’t forgo checking email altogether, but set limits on when you will check work email. For example, if you have a family, you might want to block out time for a family meal – no smartphone allowed. I am very firm about not checking work email from home, and I communicate that to my coworkers. My team knows that the only way to reach me outside of regular work hours is to call me

If your job involves heavy social media interaction, you can still unplug for a few hours a day. Investigate platforms (there are several) that will schedule social media status updates for you. Handle all your responses in batches, rather than replying immediately.

Get Moving
Even if exercise didn’t make it high on your priority list, it’s a smart thing to schedule into your day. Exercise boosts your energy levels and can improve your mood. It may seem difficult to squeeze in some activity, particularly during the holiday season, but the extra oomph you gain makes exercise an activity that saves you time in the long run.


Work-life balance is a moving target. One day might feel well-balanced, and the next day might feel the opposite. Keep your priorities in mind and just do your best. Don’t forget that your priorities will change as your life changes — especially during the holiday season — so periodically reassess your priorities and where you are spending your time.