Build up to the Christmas holidays

The lead up to Christmas can be an exceptionally stressful time in the building industry. There is mounting pressure to complete projects, increased demands from clients, and expectation to do longer days and weekend work. This kind of intensity can leave you and your team with little time for anything else, and interfere with family-time, sleep, meals, exercise, and downtime.

It’s easy to push on through knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Telling yourself the work will get done before Christmas and there will be time to relax during the holidays. But what good is it getting to the festive season if there is nothing left in the tank?

The trick is to try and find a balance while continuing to pump the work out so when it comes time to relax, your holiday period isn’t spent trying to unwind.

Here’s three things to consider.

Reflect and learn

Think about previous years when there were particularly tight deadlines or challenging projects. Consider how you handled the overload, stress, demands, lack of materials, and your team. Jot down a list of ‘what worked’ and ‘what didn’t’ and keep it handy so you can review it when the wheels get wobbly. Learning from our experiences is valuable if we remain realistic and open to making changes.

Set boundaries

Plan and clearly communicate your work hours and limits to your clients and colleagues. Be realistic about deadlines and consider the commitments you impose on your staff. If everyone is on the same page, there are no surprises (or at least fewer), which reduces frustration, conflict, and burnout…or worse, walk out.


Managing projects requires a lot of coordinating, prioritising, and flexibility to get all the moving parts to come together. In 2024, consider upskilling one of the team to support you or get help from a qualified intern. Be organised and book other tradespeople in advance to take some of the pressure off. Hand over some of the straightforward tasks to your upskilled staff member or intern, like ordering supplies, booking tradies, or just following up on things, to give you a few hours back each day.

Here’s three tools to implement.

1. Mindfulness

Introduce “mindful moments” throughout the day by consciously focusing on the present. Mindfulness enhances your awareness, reduces stress, and improves your ability to concentrate. By paying individual attention to the details around you, your conversations, what you are doing, how you are doing it, and what others are doing, you can tackle challenges with a clearer and more relaxed mind.

2. Breathing and grounding techniques

When stress starts to overwhelm you, take a step back and practice breathing and grounding techniques. Deep breathing helps to calm your nervous system, reducing stress and increasing focus. Grounding techniques, like feeling your feet on the ground or your hands on a surface, help you stay rooted in the present moment. This allows you to regain composure and make better decisions during tense moments.

3. Prioritise some “me time”

Allocate time for the stuff you enjoy. Dinner with the family, a game of squash, or catching up with friends. Do whatever it is that picks you up and relaxes you. Do what makes a challenging or frustrating day melt away so you can wake the next morning ready to face a new day with new energy.

To make the most of the Christmas break, park the work stuff and embrace the downtime. Whether you are an active relaxer or a blob with a book kind of person, do what fills your cup so you can return to the New Year refreshed and ready.

Before you go back to work, create a plan for how you’ll manage stress and workload in 2024. Prepping can help avoid last-minute stress and create a more manageable schedule for the year. As we all know, we are kidding ourselves if we continue doing the same thing expecting different results.

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