For many professionals, managing projects through the holidays is a challenge – keeping clients happy, keeping production running, while also caring for your team and your family is tough. Here are some tips for managing competing demands:
- Block Away Time: If you have freedom with your schedule, let your bosses, clients and teams what your schedule will be in advance – and if you don’t have as much flexibility, request any leave early. This is important in setting boundaries – and expectations up front.
- Identify Pre-Holiday Milestones: Be realistic about project deliveries at the end of the year. What MUST you complete before the end of the year? What could you delay till the new year? Update existing project plans and deliverable lists to describe what will get done, and what will be relooked at the start of next year.
- Schedule Stakeholder Check-In Time: Stakeholder management is an important project management activity – use end-of-year breaks to check-in and recalibrate with key people. Say thank you, assess ongoing needs and celebrate success! Make sure you check in with your project champions to see how they feel about how things are going and to thank them for their support.
- Celebrate Success: If you a project or task manager, celebrate the year’s successes by hosting an awards event or team social hour. A project check-in and “year-in-review” can provide some structure to guide the time, while also providing an outlet for people to connect. Follow-up with individuals to thank them personally for their work.
- Don’t Dump and Run. Too often, people finish a big project right before leaving for the holidays, push send on the email saying, “please comment by January 2” (after all, that’s next year!) and then check out. Try to give a couple of days buffer between sending a project deliverable and checking out – in case there is a problem, or the recipient has a question. And don’t set unrealistic deadlines for others, even if they seem far away. Instead, note that you will check in after the new year to discuss next steps.
Actively planning your holidays – and having empathy for those planning theirs – can make end-of-year time management a little bit easier. Happy Holidays!