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Public Service Announcement: Christmas is 20 days away. Just thinking about what all you need to accomplish between now and then may make you want to get in bed and pull the warm, cozy covers over your head. For many of us, amongst all the joy and excitement of the holiday season lurks an uninvited guest – exhaustion. Too much to do. Unrealistic visions of perfection. Too little time. All the hustle and bustle can zap our energy, diminish productivity and steal the enjoyment of the season. Understanding and managing your personal energy – what impacts it and how it cycles – is one way to avoid holiday burnout. Importantly, this knowledge can serve you year-round.

Manage Your Personal Energy Level

Each of us has a pretty predictable cycle of energy throughout the day; it is our job to understand it. For example, at a basic level, most of us know if we’re a morning person or not. The key is to find your “power hours”, the time of day when your energy is highest and you have the best focus.

I have a colleague who has learned to harness her unique energy rhythm. She knows she has the most energy from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.! So, she books her clients for late afternoon, completing those responsibilities in the latter half of the traditional workday. And then, she works on a book she’s authoring in the wee hours of the morning. Of course, she has adjusted her sleep schedule to ensure she receives adequate shut-eye. It works for her.

Once you discover your own personal energy cycles, you can use it to better manage your time. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Save tasks that require less brain-power – i.e. listening to webinars, conference calls and voicemails; completing routine paperwork; unloading the dishwasher; folding clothes – for times when your energy level is naturally lower. Protect and capitalize on your power hours. Block out these precious hours on your calendar to complete those tasks that require more brainpower during this time. You will get more done and the output will be greater.

Plan Ahead

Last-minute anything is going to zap your energy. Time management is most critical when you are overwhelmed with tasks and commitments. Be realistic about what you need to accomplish and put a plan in place. Make a list and work from it. Look for ways to save time. I personally love to order my groceries online and pick them up at the time of my choosing (when my energy is lower). Commit to keeping yourself out of a bind. Don’t leave things to the last minute and use modern technology to your advantage. What gifts can you order online instead of traveling to a brick-and-mortar retailer? What can you knock out today instead of the day before holiday break?

Learn to Say No To Preserve Energy

Spreading yourself too thin is a sure way to rob yourself of valuable energy. It is important to be discerning with your time and learn to say no as a part of your personal boundary setting. “No” comes in many flavors: remember that sometimes “good enough” is enough. It is important to protect your personal energy cycles too. If you know you have deadline approaching, say, “No” to other tasks that will rob you of your best power hours.

A good litmus test to use here is to consider your personal values system when making choices regarding how to spend your time. If spending time with those you love ranks high on your list of values, spending time cooking the perfect holiday meal from scratch, while your loved ones visit in an adjacent room, may not be the right choice for you. Let go of the from-scratch chef duties. Outsource some (or all!) of your holiday meal courses or assign parts to other family members. Similarly, making an appearance at every holiday party you receive an invitation to may not make sense if it causes you to fall behind professionally, putting you at odds with your professional performance values. On the other hand, is a regular weekly staff meeting worth missing in order to see your child perform in their holiday play? Your answer is the right answer.

Volunteer opportunities abound this time of year. You may really want to make homemade cupcakes for your child’s class party, and chair your company’s toy drive, and close that perfect deal before year-end, but something has to give. Now is the time to be frank about your personal values and objectives. Where do you want to put your personal energy? Where are you setting yourself up for burnout? How can you be involved and satisfied and remain true to your personal values?

Introvert’s Energy Can Be Especially Taxed During the Holidays

Introverts can particularly become drained attempting to make it to each and every holiday gathering. Though we love to connect, some of us use up more energy socializing. Acknowledge this characteristic if it rings true, and act accordingly. Introverts should choose their appearances wisely and guard their alone time for recharging.

Understand and Embrace Your Personal Energy

This holiday, give yourself the gift of actionable self-awareness as it relates to your own personal energy. Understanding and managing how your personal energy naturally flows will allow you to effectively schedule and prioritize your time. It will boost your productivity and enable you to show up 100% in your commitments. You can maintain your professional productivity and enjoy all that the season has to offer. Happy Holidays!

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