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Keeping life in balance during the holidays

There I was Sunday afternoon—sitting on my comfortable couch, babysitting my two-and-a-half-year-old nephew, and staring in awe every time CBS football coverage cut back to Chicago to show viewers the absolute monsoon that was delaying the start of the Ravens-Bears game. I kept getting this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I was forgetting to do something that I should be doing. It wasn’t until Monday morning that I was finally able to place it.

I was supposed to be writing a new blog post for Generation J.D.

When I sat down in front of my laptop to actually write the thing, the only thought in my head was how I had completely forgotten one of my regular duties simply because I was enthralled watching my nephew navigate my iPad to find videos featuring Pixar’s Cars toys on YouTube. I must admit, it took an embarrassingly long time for me to realize that I should let that experience serve as the basis for this post.

No, not the Cars YouTube videos. The fact that the holiday season is once again upon us, and that various commitments to friends and family during this time could interfere with the obligations we have at our work (or our bi-weekly blogging gig).

Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year again. A time for holiday bonuses, for gift-giving, and for taking long car rides to visit relatives you only see twice a year. All of which means that your calendar right now is likely filling up faster than you can tear the pages off it. But what do you do if your workload isn’t also being adjusted to compensate? For example, even though there will be many government holidays over the next month or so, Maryland’s General Assembly will go into session the week after New Year’s. That means people like me are hurrying to accomplish everything that needs to get done to ensure that our state legislators have everything at their disposal to file their bills on time, present them at hearings, and try to get them passed during the brief 90-day session.

Full CalendarI think that the key is communication. Balancing your work/life schedule during the holiday season begins with the ability to communicate effectively with people. Your boss isn’t going to know that you have to attend your child’s recital unless you say so, and your spouse isn’t going to understand the importance of a filing deadline unless you explain it. Chances are, even if you have a stubborn boss (or spouse), they won’t have an issue if you inform them about something and give them time to adjust to it.

It’s only after the initial communication that you need to start worrying about actually fitting all these items into your holiday schedule, so if you fail to even talk to people about something, then you really only have yourself to blame if everything falls apart in the end.

But I have faith in you, Constant Reader. Like the ghost of Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol, I hope that this blog post has served as both a warning and as a call to action. The holidays are a time of great joy and giving thanks, so do everything you can to be there for your friends and your family, even if it might conflict with your work. I don’t want to have to come back here as the Ghost of Bloggers Future.