How to avoid Christmas burn-out

How to avoid Christmas burn-out

 9 Dec 2021

The UK Government has not been kind to the tax industry, with deadlines that wreak havoc on our Christmas wind down plans! Throw December year-ends into the mix, on top of a relentlessly busy twelve months, and it will be a wonder if there is time to eat Christmas lunch let alone have a meaningful break. So what can you do to make sure you’re not burnt out before the first cracker is pulled?


Make a plan

Divide your work according to priorities. Be ruthless – this isn’t the time to try and please everyone. If it can possibly wait until after Christmas then schedule it in for January, if it can be later, all the better.

Breakdown your caseload into smaller chunks. There’s little point in having a plan which says, “I’ll meet all deadlines by the New Year”. Be precise with your timetable, scheduling in work to be completed by incremental dates. This will ensure that you can appreciate your progress and keep motivated to move on.


Be realistic

Both with others and yourself. Don’t over promise. Most of us put huge pressure on ourselves to deliver great quality work and a fast turnaround. Sometimes this isn’t possible. If you want to maintain your work standards, you have to be realistic about achievable time frames. Let yourself off the hook a little. If you can’t manage it, it’s unlikely anyone else can.




Say “no”

The natural instinct is to take on everything, to impress the boss and avoiding bad feeling. But, saying “no” is about taking ownership over what is deliverable, being responsible and appreciating that your time is valuable.

Find the balance between being assertive and being confrontational:

  • Explain briefly why you can’t take on additional work e.g. “I am overstretched as it is and taking on additional workloads will mean that standards will start to slip.”
  • Offer alternatives e.g. “Although I haven’t got any spare capacity at the moment, I will be able to work on it in January” or recommend someone else for them to ask.
  • Suggest that they talk to your boss to decide what work takes precedence. Flag this with your boss so that he/she can appreciate the consideration you have given to competing priorities.


Delegate, delegate, delegate

The heavier a workload, the more unrealistic it is to expect to do everything yourself. But, giving up that control is often easier said than done.

There are plenty of arguments against delegation - it’s quicker to do it yourself, you know the case better than anyone, you don’t have staff of sufficient experience to handle the work properly etc. Whilst these are all understandable concerns, at some point you will have to break the cycle.

There is an art to delegation – the essentials are:

  • Brief your colleagues thoroughly.
  • Don’t expect perfection.
  • Avoid the temptation to micro-manage.
  • Be appreciative.

Your junior colleagues are likely to be grateful for the opportunity to work on something different. They may also be less likely to look elsewhere for new challenges and more interesting work.


Pace yourself

Whilst it’s ok to put in extra hours, it is not sustainable to work long days every day and into the weekend. Accept that everyone needs a break. In the long run, if we allow ourselves to re-charge our batteries, it will result in better quality work with less potential for mistakes.

Now that the majority of us are working from home, at least some of the time, it is far easier to blur the lines between home and work.

There is no such thing as a “quick check on my emails”! Break the habit by keeping your PC or work mobile switched off; it helps if you can have your devices out of sight, in a separate room or tucked away.


Plan your downtime

Even if you only schedule in a couple of hours here and there at the weekend, having plans will make you more likely to stick with them. Anything that distracts you from work will be beneficial in the long run – a walk in the park, seeing friends and family, playing with the kids, binge watching a box set.


Above all, never feel guilty for bringing some balance back into your life. Not only is it essential for your well-being, but it will also mean you are more productive and focused when you are working.


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