Holiday season schedules can be challenging in any business or profession. Expectations to cover for absent partners or colleagues with no extra time (or extra staff!) allocated can leave us feeling worn-thin and stressed out.
Speaking from firsthand experience in my medical practice- When I stand in for another doctor I’m not only taking care of my own patients, but his or hers as well! This extends to covering pathology results, hospital letters and prescriptions; and I would ultimately end up working absolutely silly hours. The same burden applies to top managers, CEO’s, lawyers, accountants and busy professionals across the business spectrum.
The question is, how do we manage the workload during the Holiday Season effectively? Below are 3 tips that I use to ease my daily schedule when I am covering for a colleague.
1) Avoid Duplication: If the work is likely to be repeated on the absent party’s return, find a way to avoid this.
Meet with your vacationing colleague before their departure. Ask pointed questions to get a clear sense of what tasks can be held over until their return. Do your part to take notes for your co-worker while they are absent so they are able to follow up on issues you have temporarily put on-hold.
2) Automate: In our medical practice we use computer macros in the document management system, allowing a single “click” to add comments for a repeated task. Pre-designed and set templates allow us to quickly and efficiently write letters, drawing in information that has already been gathered. Try to get the expertise that you need to make efficiency savings wherever the software allows.
In my online business I make use of social media and marketing automation tools that allow me to set specific times for release of newsletters, links, invitations and blogs.
Prior to a busy season, evaluate what tasks can be eased by an automated process and make use of it!
3) Delegate: When extra work is unavoidable, do your best to delegate it to the most appropriate person within the company or business.
For example: In medicine we have a salaried doctor and two nurse-practitioners who can see patients and deal with queries regarding the absent doctors’ patients in a pinch.
For administrative tasks, we have coordinated levels of administration to handle telephone queries, medication queries & prescription problems to offset the workload on the Doctor’s.
Similar opportunities for delegation are present in most professions. Although it may initially take time to delegate effectively to your organisational tier, it can reap dividends in terms of improved time management and a greater sense of morale for all concerned. Most importantly, you are showing your support staff that you trust their judgment in managing situations that arise!
Finally, smile and laugh a lot! Remember that you are covering for your colleague so that they can cover for you when it is your turn – and have a great holiday!