Is your pre-Christmas holiday deadline real? - Michelle Gibbings

work deadline







It’s a couple of weeks until Christmas and no doubt you have a long (and perhaps growing) list of things to do, tasks to complete and projects to wrap up before the end of the year.

Are you feeling relaxed and happy, or stressed out wondering how you’ll get it all done before you head off on your Christmas vacation?

As I was chatting with a client earlier this week, who was juggling multiple and competing deadlines, I reflected on the interesting conundrum that the Christmas and New Year holiday period provides.

The festive season is supposed to be a joyful time of year, and yet it creates a sense of urgency.

It’s a rush to buy presents, catch up with people, and organise the holiday and other festivities. In the work environment, it’s a rush to complete projects and tasks before holidays.

Christmas becomes a deadline – and sometimes an artificial one.

When you think about it, it’s a peculiar notion because in some respects the deadline is self-imposed. Is it that you want to start the new year feeling like you’ve cleared your 2019 list of things to do, or is it actually an artificial deadline?

Similarly, often leaders will ask for work to be completed and yet they won’t look at it until they get back from holidays in January.

Getting a handle on your pre-holiday to do list is about ruthless prioritisation and being really clear about what needs to be delivered, by when and to what standard.

Ask yourself – is this a self-imposed timeframe, or a deadline that other people are dependent on you meeting?

Talk to your stakeholders, leader or clients and find out when they are going on leave and when they will be reviewing the material or progressing the work. That will enable you to better prioritise activities according to ‘must do’, ‘nice to do’, or ‘don’t need to do’ before the Christmas break.

I am not suggesting you deliberately miss important deadlines; nor am I encouraging you to take the foot off the pedal of important work. I am suggesting you challenge the conventional notion that you need to set Christmas as an arbitrary deadline.

I’ve seen situations where the pre-Christmas frenzy leads to rushed jobs which aren’t completed to the right standard, necessitating extra work and costs down the track.

As well, coming back after a break you are more likely to approach the work with refreshed energy and enthusiasm, and new perspectives such that an issue which previously seemed hard is easier to resolve.

As Arianna Huffington remarked “Today we often use deadlines real and imaginary to imprison ourselves”.

Getting you ready for tomorrow, today®.

Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian.  Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate Your Career’. For more information: or contact


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