Holiday Hangover

Laissez les bon temps rouler.

Tuesday of a holiday week marks the official beginning of “out of office syndrome.” Since this time off phenomenon will occur frequently over the next five weeks let’s look at how we can handle its effects.

When some in HR hear “Holidays in the office” we shudder in thinking about excessive partying and having to deal with its aftermath. Since others write so well (and much) about this point, let’s move on to two others less examined.


Early in my career I insisted people not be influenced by jingle bells, thoughts of all-day football marathons and the temptation of turkey, dressing and pie. They were to keep their heads down. I wanted productivity.

I was very popular with my teams.

And while it still bothers me to see tasteless displays of Christmas lights in one’s cube (get a life) I have learned that productivity looks different in the holiday season.

Fewer meetings (good point), fewer pointless emails (very good point) and fewer hands on deck. That last item cuts both ways: more than one project has actually picked up steam because an obstructive team member is gone for the holidays – I’m working on one such animal right now.

So productivity might have less to do with formal meetings and group work and more to do with individual effort.

Customers feeling a little lonely? Now is the perfect time to reach out to them. Should your network need resuscitation you have a wonderful excuse to do so. If your planning or journaling has fallen behind, these days offer respite to address that.

Its important to be realistic about what work will be done over the holiday season – and make no mistake, work carries on – and what won’t. Clear expectations about work and productivity can let everyone enjoy a bit of merriment without a holiday hangover come January.

New Beginning

Janvier determines how we start the year: running or stumbling.

As the December holiday stretch looms one excellent activity we can execute now is to review, revise and prune workplace plans so January starts off strong, not long.

Just like the soul who sets too many resolutions on New Year only to see them vanish in weeks, we can waste inordinate amounts of time and energy going through new year planning sessions at work. The 80/20 rule applies at holiday time just as it does the rest of the year – a few critical activities really drive most of your results.

You know what these are now: you will gain no insight in January that isn’t already apparent. So don’t wait for the new year to hone your plans.

Focus wins.

Use December not to add to a long list of “action plans” for the new year (your team will love you) but to focus your group’s efforts on what really counts for the new year.

You know what’s important for your business success right now so sharpen your plans, communicate them clearly and your team will start January strong in stark contrast to those work groups wasting much of the new year’s beginning rehashing the strategic plans they already know.

Using the holiday time of year effectively, i.e., getting things done while acknowledging the spirit of the season, is not that difficult. And with a bit of foresight you can start the new year strongly with a refreshed and focused team.

Isn’t that the best gift we can ask for at work?


2 thoughts on “Holiday Hangover

  1. One of my favorite days in each business year is the day when everyone moves from the panicked “This MUST get done before Christmas, we simply have to squeeze it in, whatever it takes” to the much more relaxed “Ok, we’ll just take that one in January, next year is also a year.”
    Most often this point is hit on December 15 – 16, sometimes even as late as December 18.

    Good points Christopher, may 2014 be a good year with a good start!

    • I know CG: its funny the artificial pressure we can put on ourselves when the truth is business is never-ending. Hope the end of year finds you well and in festive spirit! Thank you so much for writing my friend!

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