How to avoid pre-holiday stress at work

Our holidays are meant to provide a relief from stress but in reality, many people find that the time before going away is the most stressful of the whole year. We feel that we have to do all our usual work plus the work that would accumulate over the holiday before we can allow ourselves to go away. This doesn’t have to be the case and there are ways you can ease your pre-holiday stress.

Let’s have a look at some strategies you can employ to avoid being more stressed out than you have to be.

Start by avoiding mental clutter

Mental clutter is all the thoughts going round and round in our heads; our “to do list”, our “should have done list” clogging us up and preventing us from thinking clearly. Reducing the visible clutter on your desk can really help to reduce your mental clutter as well. This will make you more productive as you are more likely to be able to concentrate on your work and get more done in less time.

Clear your desk, by dealing with all your random bits of paper. Go through all your papers one by one and decide:

Do it – if it takes 2 minutes or less to do what’s needed, do it now. This includes filling it, if the paper needs to be kept for some reason.

Defer it – if it’s a more involved task, set a time in your diary to deal with it. If you put it in your diary, you’re more likely to actually do it.

Delegate it – can it be done by someone else? Let them deal with it.

Ditch it – if you kept it for just in case, simply get rid of it. You don’t need it.

Set out-of-office messages

Change your voice mail and set up an email autoresponder to let people know that you’re away. Give them an alternative person to contact, so that you don’t get back to a pile of urgent to-dos.

Learn to say NO

You can only do so much in the available time. Don’t take on any additional tasks while you’re trying to clear the decks. This will help you to regain control of your time reduce pre-holiday stress.

Be realistic and plan

Chances are very high that you’re not going to get everything done before going away. Make a list of everything you’d like to (or think you must) get done and rank these tasks in order of priority. This way you can be sure that the most important things will get done. The less important things can wait until you’re back. Or you can decide which of these tasks you can delegate.

Co-operate with your colleagues to reduce your pre-holiday stress

Have a shared diary that shows when everyone is away. This way you can set up a who can cover for you while you’re away and vice versa. Make sure you hand over tasks that need to get done while you’re away and leave as much information as you can in case of enquiries. It’s a good idea to spend a bit of time on this for your own peace of mind while you’re away.

Create a to-do list for when you get back

This can help you to ease back into work after a holiday. Make sure you add “remove auto-responder and holiday voicemail” to your list.

All is left to do, is have a relaxing holiday!

How the Work Well Practice can help

We run corporate workshops to improve wellbeing at work. You can also sign up for a complimentary strategy call, where we can discuss your needs in detail. Alternatively, you can ring 075 222 777 22 or email

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