It’s the week before Christmas, and all through the office, people were wailing “I’M TOO STRESSED TO TALK….I’VE GOT TO SHOP IN MY LUNCHBREAK….I’VE STILL GOT THINGS TO DOOOOO”.

That’s how the poem goes, doesn’t it?

Like some (most) of us, you are probably beginning to panic about preparing gifts, lunches, family events, incomplete work tasks, the office secret Santa and annual leave. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with the gifts, lunches or family reunions (although I do maintain that any dessert covered in brandy custard constitutes a Christmas pudding). I can however share my top five office de-stressors that may help you to manage any pre-holiday melt-down that you’re thinking of having this week.

1. Prioritise

Explore what tasks need to be completed immediately, what can be completed in the short term, and what tasks can be classified as long term. Be fair in your assessment – don’t set yourself up for failure by prioritising ALL outstanding work tasks as immediate needs if they really aren’t. On the flip side, don’t leave ALL tasks to be completed on your return after holidays.

2. To-Do List

Now, while some of you may now be thinking “but I get more stressed out if I don’t complete things on my to-do list” hear me out. I’m a big fan of the to-do list, not necessarily for marking things off, but as a strategy to keep us on track. If you change your ideals on what a to-do list is, then you can create a tool that will help you set and achieve small goals. For your pre-holiday to-do list, you should be listing those tasks only that you prioritised as either immediately needed or needed in the short-term. Any long-term work tasks should not be included in this to-do list as it will quickly appear overwhelming and the usefulness of the tool will diminish.

By doing what you can ahead of time, you will be minimising stress in those last days or hours before you leave for holidays, as well as ensuring that any important details aren’t accidentally left out.

3. Timetable

Similar to the to-do list, a timetable can become a tool of direction and guidance. Remember back to your schooling days when you used a timetable to help you ensure that you were spending enough time studying each subject? A timetable in the lead up to a holiday from the office can be useful in the same way. While I don’t recommend such strict timetabling as to account for every minute of every day, I do stress that it is important to structure what limited time you have so you can get the most out of it.

4. Create any handover documents ahead of time

If you are working in a job where you will need to handover any work tasks, clients or customer files while you are away, DO NOT LEAVE IT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. This task is often prioritised incorrectly, and completed as a last event before you go on leave. By doing what you can ahead of time, you will be minimising stress in those last days or hours before you leave for holidays, as well as ensuring that any important details aren’t accidently left out. Obviously, not everything will be able to be added to a handover document a long way in advance; however, it is generally possible to add any last minute details to an existing document as they arise. By doing it in a controlled manner, you will likely find that the quality of details is better, and you will not experience the dreaded feeling of oppression that comes with having to do last minute handover documents.

And finally –

5. Have another rum ball!

Well – it IS the silly season …..

Featured photo credit: Mr.TinDC via photopin cc

Lauren Maxwell Lauren Kremer

Lauren is a Rehabilitation Counsellor and Career Development Consultant, with close to 15 years of experience across the two fields. She is the founder of Headstrong Women, a specialist women’s career development service, and thrives on innovation and creativity to empower women to reach their potential. Find out more at or on Facebook.

Digital clutter is becoming a bigger issue as more people are trying to leave behind paper and deal with the digital world. After watching an episode on the Living Room, Episode 23 featuring Peter Walsh, I had an ‘aha’ moment to deal with digital clutter. Peter was dealing with a couple who had to clean out all their things from a granny flat and start afresh. The final reveal really showed how much of a difference it can make to your headspace when things are cleaned out.

Aha Moment: There are often deeper issues when dealing with clutter, regardless of whether it is dealing with emails, files or even apps. The process of cleaning your ‘digital clutter’ out can make a huge difference not only to your headspace, but to your productivity.

Recently I had a client who needed urgent attention with her email. She had over 4,500 emails sitting in her inbox and had got to the point of being ‘infowhelmed – or information overloaded’.

Here are five steps to dealing with ‘digital mess’.

1. Unsubscribe to (or roll up!) emails you don’t need!

I recently used to unsubscribe to over 180 email lists that I had in my three email accounts. It was amazing to watch the next morning as my inbox drastically reduced. They include a service entitled ‘ Daily Wrap Up’ where you can choose to have several subscriptions rolled up into one email. My client who had email overload used this service and unsubscribed to over 90 email lists.

Tip: Realise WHY you are holding onto these emails. If they are important, copy the link and paste it into an Evernote notebook (or pin it to a Pinterest Board). It’s then important to delete the email, so you can get to INBOX ZERO!

2. Find those files (and name them properly!)

So, have you ever been taught how to name and tame your files? I have a number of clients who have difficulty finding their files because of the organisation of their folders/sub-folders or lack of folders.

I discovered David Sparks (author of ‘Paperless’), and he suggests having YY-MM-DD followed by a space and hyphen, then a description of the document. An example is this blog post, written on 14-07-30. Then I usually add what it’s related to i.e. invoice, blog post or client files.

3. Consistency for your files

Why use Evernote? I have been working with both new and existing clients recently using Evernote to manage their ‘digital filing cabinet’ i.e. taking notes, scanning documents, planning renovations, working on projects, keeping records of warranties and the list goes on. This is available for desktop (Mac/Windows), Android, iOS, Windows devices and Blackberry. So last year, I started running Evernote workshops in Melbourne because I realised that individuals are struggling with ‘digital overload’ of information.

4. File Receipts

Today, receipts are all thermal, so if you don’t deal with them immediately, they are at risk of fading. Late last year, I worked with Denise Childs from ‘Systems for Order’, a professional organiser (something I wish I had done a few years ago). I realised as we were working on my lounge room that I had a huge issue with paper trails, with paper left in at least 6 places around the house.

Tip: Where is the paper trail in your house? How do you file your receipts?

It got me thinking about making scans of important documents that I need, either with Evernote, or another app called ‘JotNot Scanner Pro’ so that I can access them easily through Evernote, Dropox or Google Drive.

Shoeboxed’ is another option which also has an app which allows you to scan your receipts in. It uses them to create an expense report. The other option they have is to send files to a central location, and they will do the work for you for a fee.

5. Organise your website research

How do you organise your website research? I personally use Pinterest on both my desktop via the Internet (Mac) and my iPad and it is one of my favourite apps and websites.

There are some other great tools–I highly recommend using Evernote Web Clipper and Evernote Clearly to manage websites that I would like to collect. You will need to sign up for a free Evernote account first, so you can add the resources to your Evernote notebooks.

The iOS (iPhone and iPad) version is Dolphin Web Browser and I use this when I am not using my laptop. It is also available forAndroid users.


photo credit: T a k

Being an entrepreneur, it’s important to manage digital files so that you business can be more productive and save time, money and frustration! For further details, on how you can get help with ‘digital decluttering, contact Tech Coach HQ.

Megan Iemma

Technology Coach and “IT” girl Megan Iemma is a thought leader in the world of technology and its uses. An educator and techno geek, Megan combined her passions for education and technology and founded Tech Coach HQ working with businesses and their teams to improve processes and embrace the productivity technology has to offer.