Keep Calm and Carry On: 5 Tips to Manage Overwhelm After Holidays

Worried about how to manage overwhelm in the new year? I’ve pulled together five tips to help you come back to work after holidays feeling more in control than ever before!

Starting a new year at work should give us a sense of possibility? We’re free from the mundane tasks weighing us down in the previous year, and ready to forge ahead with new (and better) tasks for the new year! Right? Unfortunately that’s not generally the case.

No matter our best intentions I don’t know very many people who start a new year off at work with their to-do list completely empty of pre-holiday tasks. I had a big to-do list before I went on holidays (it was actually called ‘before I can leave for Christmas!) and despite my best efforts to actively work through that list, there are still a few things remaining now in 2024.

So what do you do when you’re back to work after the holidays with tasks still weighing on you? With a to-list still outstanding? How do you manage the overwhelm?

5 Tips on How to Manage Overwhelm After Holidays

When it comes to figuring out how to manage overwhelm after holidays, the first thing to understand is that you’re not alone. We all have a list. But you don’t have to sit down at your desk after your holidays and feel totally overwhelmed.

In fact, there are practical strategies you can implement right now to help you manage the overwhelm and keep calm and carry on! And they start with ‘Ditch, Delegate, Do’.

Tip 1: Ditch, Delegate, Do

Ditch the irrelevant

It’s a new year! That means that the things that were relevant last year may no longer be relevant this year. And anything that isn’t, should be culled immediately from the list.

So take a look at your to-do list. What’s no longer relevant in your new year? Perhaps you simply didn’t have time to send out your business’ Christmas cards. If you didn’t get to it in 2023, it’s time to cut it from the to-do list. You can always add it to your workflow for next November.

What can you delegate (or outsource)?

This is one of my favourite tips and one of the tips I most fully embrace in my own practice. It’s also one that helped me learn how to manage overwhelm after holidays as well.

At Emma McQueen we are a small and mighty team. But for the team to work well, I can’t do everything myself. So we thoughtfully outsource the things that are not related to me delivering on coaching, running the business or connecting with potential clients.

For me that means website upkeep, SEO and social media management (among others). For you it might be all these things, or an entirely new list. Whatever causes you the most friction in your business, or keeps you from really operating in your area of genius, should be delegated internally our outsourced externally.

Do, with the help of a master list and a daily 3

Once you’ve ditched the irrelevant and delegated the unnecessary (for you), you’ve already taken care of many of the items still hanging over your head, and your feelings of overwhelm are hopefully on their way out. Now it’s time to tackle the rest. This is what you need to actually do.

We do this with ‘the master list’ and the daily three.

Creating your master list

Your master list is simply the list of all the things that need to get done that remain in your wheelhouse. And this is one of my best tricks when it comes to figuring out how to manage overwhelm after holidays.

Throughout the year I create this list on the Friday before the following week (and I suggest you do to). But if it’s your first day back at work after the holidays, I recommend you do this right away.

It’s a simple process. Just sit down and look two weeks ahead in your calendar. Consider the work you need to do for your clients, and make sure that you have enough time to complete that work.

For me, this usually includes things like a 90-day plan or building out some resources or tools. And then I write out a list of things that I need to do to deliver those projects to my clients.

Personally, I love a list. I love being able to scratch things off my list. I still absolutely use my calendar, but it is reserved for the high level project or client deliverables. My to do list is much more micro and it keeps me moving forward on the tasks that need doing over a set period.

However, as we discussed at the beginning of this article, lists can get overwhelming. And so the trick from this master list is to move things over to the ‘daily 3’.

Your daily 3

Your daily 3 is simply the three things from your master list that you will get done on that day. This takes what might seem like an overwhelming lists of tasks and makes the manageable and achievable.

Research shows that short term, achievable goals are the secret to staying motivated and minimising procrastination. That’s because they lay down a clear path to success and allow you to focus on just one thing at a time (which also saves you from feelings of overwhelm!).

Choosing three things helps you stay motivated to work on your to do list each day. And by the end of the week, you’ve already ticked 15 things off of your master list. You will also be left with the feeling that you’re achieving every single day.

Tip 2: Work when you’re freshest

Ditch, delegate, do is my best strategy for overwhelm. But I have a few more tips too, including working when you’re fresh.

For me, I’m freshest in the morning. So I like to sit down at my desk first thing, take a look at my daily 3 and get them done immediately. Normally they’re quite big tasks, so they take a bit of time and mental energy. And for me the morning is the best time to do all that.

For you, afternoons might work better, or even evenings. But focus your energies when you are the most fresh, and you’ll feel better able to tackle the items that need doing.

Tip 3: Celebrate your micro successes

When you get tasks done from your list, stop and celebrate. This doesn’t mean taking the rest of the day off to drink champagne! For me it’s taking the dog around the block, or grabbing a coffee. It’s just about getting up and out of my chair and doing something small to congratulate myself.

Tip 4: Move on from your failures

I make mistakes all the time. And you’ll have days that don’t go well. Or where you simply don’t move forward on your tasks. Dwelling on those perceived ‘failures’ is not the answer. Instead, shake it off and come to work the next day ready to get the next three things done.

Moving on from failure and re-focusing your energies on the tasks at hand will help you feel more in control even when things go wrong.

Tip 5: Remind yourself – this year is going to be awesome!

It’s a new year. Start it with the right mindset. Remind yourself that this year is going to be awesome. This isn’t just a ‘be nice to yourself’ reminder. This kind of positive self-talk has real scientific impact on how you feel and the outcomes in your life.

In fact, research shows that positive self-talk helps you to feel more confident, it boosts your belief that you can meet your goals and it helps you to build resilience, finding workarounds when problems do arise. It also helps you better deal with stress, another thing that can derail you when you’re facing overwhelm.

So talk to yourself well. Support yourself and boost yourself up! It can make all the difference in your business and your life.

Battling overwhelm is achievable!

When it comes to understanding how to manage overwhelm after holidays, you don’t need to complicate the situation. The tips are simple. But they can make all the difference.

Where the challenge will arise is keeping consistent in creating your lists and tackling your daily 3. Because it’s this consistency that will keep the overwhelm at bay after holidays and throughout the rest of the year!

Please join me for more Tea with the Queen! Or connect and build relationships at my Events. And please contact me if my Coaching Services may be something that could help you. For more about me, visit

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Emma also has a podcast.