If you’re reading this then maybe it’s time to take a break. We all work hard, but Christmas can be the perfect time to switch off and recharge.
It’s tempting to think that the more you put into running a charity, the more you get out. Using that logic, any downtime you take can only harm the smooth operation of your organisation.
But a moment’s reflection is all it takes to realise that this simply isn’t the case: just as an athlete can’t compete at the highest level without giving their body a rest, you can’t manage the complexities of a modern charity without giving your mind some rest from time to time to recover from mental fatigue.
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, experience some mindfulness, 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 you risk burning yourself out and hindering your performance in the year ahead by overworking yourself.
With that in mind, here are 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.
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 charity work.
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 ends up being 15 minutes between phone sessions instead of 5 – will make it easier to switch off more completely during the festive period.
Realistically, you probably won’t be able to keep your mind off your charity work throughout the Christmas period, even if you follow all the steps above. One way to deal with this is to allow yourself a short period – perhaps 15 to 20 minutes – at the same time each day when you can check your phone or get on your laptop. With any luck, you can put your mind at rest that there is nothing urgent that needs seeing to, and if anything important does come up you can do what is necessary right away and make arrangements to deal with the rest in January.
Switching off is important, so don’t feel guilty about taking a break. Working for a charity is about helping others, but you can’t help others 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!