Here are our top tips for switching off after a challenging year
Image: Robert Bye on Unsplash
Over the last 6 months, the Heritage Digital consortium (funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund) have produced 7 webinars, 4 guides and 1 bumper virtual day event to support the heritage sector in developing and growing its digital skills. We’re taking a break until the new year, and whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or no holiday festivals, this December it’s likely that you will also be taking some time off after a challenging year.
Christmas presents the perfect opportunity for many people to switch off from their work, and the benefits of a complete break include the chance to lower your stress levels and look after your mental health. It also gives you a chance to look at what you have achieved over the year, and think about the lessons you have learned which will help you in the year ahead.
When you step back into the fray at the beginning of January after taking the opportunity to switch off over Christmas you can expect to be invigorated, more creative, and able to concentrate for longer. But if you don’t take a break from your work, whether digital-focussed or otherwise, you risk burning yourself out and hindering your performance in the year ahead by overworking yourself.
With that in mind, we’ve pulled together some tips to help you switch off this Christmas and come back raring for action:
Make sure that people know you will be switching off over Christmas, what (if anything) they can disturb you about, and what should be left until the New Year. This should include your staff and colleagues, but also suppliers and supporters.
Make sure to set an out of office message to let people know you’re offline. If you are part of a team, you can make a rota of who should be contacted on any day during the Christmas period to take urgent calls.
Make a list of tasks that you need to do and then decide which ones have to be completed before the Christmas break, and which ones can wait until you return. The sooner you do this the better, so you are not scrambling to finish the most important tasks on Christmas Eve. Failing to prepare in this way may mean that your mind is on these tasks over Christmas, instead of taking a break from work or voluntary tasks. Using digital planning and teamwork tools like Trello, Slack, or the Tasks function from your email service can be a helpful way of identifying what there is to do and sorting it by priority.
If you are someone who checks their phone every five minutes then it can be hard to go cold turkey and switch off completely. You can help yourself overcome this by cutting down on phone usage in the days leading up to Christmas. Getting in the habit of leaving your phone alone for longer periods – even if this ends up being 15 minutes between phone sessions instead of 5 – will make it easier to switch off more completely during the festive period.
Remote working, social distancing and COVID-19 related restrictions look set to be with us for at least the first part of 2021. Take some time before the end of the year to think about how to look after your wellbeing, whether that involves thinking about avoiding remote team working burnout, seeking out wellness action planning support from the Rebuilding Heritage programme or exploring the Mental Health at Work Coronavirus Support Kit.
Switching off is important, so don’t feel guilty about taking a break. The heritage sector is full of passionate people, but you can’t keep up that energy if you don’t look after yourself. You’ll be back to work soon enough, so make sure you relax and enjoy your well-earned Christmas break!