How are you feeling today? Stressed, anxious, run-down? Or organised, calm and in-control?

Not that I need to remind you, but Christmas is only 2 weeks away and often this can be a time of complete panic – don’t’ worry you’re not alone!

You’ve probably got deadlines coming out your ears considering your clients are also trying to get all those last minute tasks finished before taking a break over the festive season. In addition to that you’ve got your own business deadlines to meet, you know those goals you wanted to accomplish in 2012, with only 3 weeks left – have you ticked each one off? And then finally you’ve got all the personal things that come with Christmas – buying presents, tidying the house for the imminent arrival of relatives, buying the turkey, preparing meals, decorating the house, and the list goes on …

So here are a few simple techniques to make sure you don’t completely lose-it before Christmas:

  1. Write a list: Jot down everything that you need to do and be brutal about what absolutely must get done now and what could (and should) wait until after Christmas. If necessary talk to one or each of your clients, as they might have a million and one things going on too and therefore won’t even look at that piece of work pre-Christmas. Include everything:
    • Client work
    • Business
    • Personal
  2. Make deadlines: Next to the items you must get done, write the deadline date. This will help you prioritise. I know it sounds obvious, and of course you’re always talking to your clients about prioritising so are well aware of the need to do it, but sometimes it’s easy for your own advice to get lost when it comes to your own work. Listen to yourself now and prioritise that workload!
  3. Organise, organise, organise: Once you know exactly what work needs doing and by what deadline, organise your schedule. Be realistic and allow enough time for each task with a bit of a buffer thrown in for good measure. Let’s face it, the telephone will ring, or the kids will come running in, or the neighbour will pop round. Unintentionally what should have just been a one hour job, can take two when you account for any interruptions.
  4. Update your clients: If you’ve decided to take the entire week of Christmas off, make sure your clients are aware of the date of your last day, and then of course the date of the first day you’re back. I always think a gentle reminder of those dates should be given perhaps a week to 10 days before, just so you don’t get any last minute nasty surprises!
  5. Switch off: When you’ve said you’re going to finish, finish. Don’t do that ‘one last thing’. It can wait. If you’ve organised and scheduled your workload you should be able to finish up and forget about it. Well OK, this is our business we’re talking about so we never really switch off and forget. But it’s important to make the most of time with your family and friends and really enjoy the break to recharge the batteries ready for a productive and enjoyable start to the New Year.

How do you prepare in making sure your desk is clear for Christmas? Do you panic and always leave things to the last minute without as much preparation as you’d like? Or are you super-organised? If so share some of your secrets below and help those that are less fortunate when it comes to this time of year!