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The holiday season is something nearly everyone looks forward to, some festive joy among the dreariness and shorter days of winter, a chance to see friends and family, overindulge in food and at the very least just relax.

One cohort of society, relatively minor though it may be, which does not look forward to the holiday season, however, are those involved in project management. Not that these people are necessarily more anti-fun than the rest of the population, but because trying to manage a project and deal with the many problems created by people taking holidays and disrupted schedules can be a nightmare.

If you’re looking for some project management tips to take the load off so you can enjoy the holiday season too, here’s what we’d recommend.

Gather as much information as you can

Before creating any plan it’s necessary to know what you want it to achieve. One of the better project management tips in this situation is to ask your vendors, clients and stakeholders what their plans are so you can start to make your own. If everyone was taking the time off things would be fine but it’s the mismatches that are the problem, when work still has to be delivered but there’s no-one around to do it. Having the full picture about what has to be delivered and potential gaps allows you to plan effectively.

Build a bank of work that can be done from home

From a PM’s point of view, one good thing about the holidays is that you know when they’re coming. To use this to your advantage you can build a work schedule of tasks that can be done from home and ask for input from team members on their own personal schedules. Build up this bank of work for the holiday season and so if you are offering members the opportunity to work from home there are a range of tasks that will not be affected by being done out of the office.

Being generous also helps morale

Depending on the dates that the holidays fall, sometimes it can just make more sense to give people the time off, so that they can actually get a full holiday rather than dragging them in for one or two days in a week. Though you might lose productivity for those days, getting a longer break and knowing that management actually cares should deliver increased productivity over the course of the project.

Start front-loading as much work as possible in the months before

It mightn’t seem like a lot of fun at the time but putting in extra hours in the weeks and months before the holiday season can significantly reduce the workload around that period. Work with your vendors and clients to see what can be brought forward and talk with your team about what they would like to take on to guarantee less stress over the holidays.

Inform stakeholders of potential delays

If you do decide to give the team extra days off or you just realize that the pre-agreed deadlines simply won’t be achievable with the disruption over Christmas, one of the most important actions is to make sure your stakeholders are informed. They mightn’t be happy but at least you took responsibility to own up to it and try and find a solution rather than just blaming unforeseen circumstances.

Planning you and your team’s holiday season work schedule is a lot easier when using the most powerful cloud-based project management software available. Clarizen has a range of features which can give you total clarity on what tasks are due and what resources available, with the ability for your team to input their own data in real-time.