It’s the end of the year and you’re anxiously counting down the days until you can switch-off, relax, and tick that final task off your to-do list. But, just as you wind down and start to envision what your last day of work in 2020 will look like, your inbox chimes, your phone buzzes, someone requests a zoom call with just one more thing…

Before you panic or before you attempt to pull a couple of all-nighters, take a moment and breathe. When isn’t your to-do list long? When have you crossed off something and not had another task to replace it? When have you ever gotten through each item and sat at your desk with nothing to do? That’s what I thought.

This year’s end, why not cut yourself some slack and get comfortable with knowing that you’ve done your very best over a uniquely difficult year. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—hint: there never was—so why not be kind to yourself this year and set some boundaries to ensure you don’t burnout just before it’s time to kick back and relax.


Organise your task list using the MoSCoW Method.

Must have items are critical and timely tasks that impact larger projects or deliverables. These will probably need attending to before you switch off or right after your return.

Should have tasks are important, but not urgent. These can typically wait until 2021—but keep in mind, when these tasks are left unattended for too long, they quickly become “must have”.

Could have items on your list are those that are neither urgent nor necessary, but could have a positive impact on a project or team. They are usually time- and resource-dependent, and considering whether to perform these tasks before you take time off will largely depend on the length of your to-do list and how many “must have” and “should have” items it holds.

Won’t have tasks are those you simply won’t have time to complete before you start your break. These tasks are not critical and no project or team will suffer if they aren’t completed until your return.

The identification of these tasks is just as critical as the “must have” ones as this will help you determine when you can switch off.


Set expectations as soon as you can. Ensure your team knows what you’re working on and what are your “must have” items. Work with them to help develop their priority list so that everyone is working towards the same goal: clearing all urgent tasks so that everyone can enjoy a much-needed break.


Write out your 2021 to-do list and then forget about it. This will allow you to fully disengage during your year-end break, but ensure upon your return, nothing is forgotten.


Sometimes we run from one task to the next without ever stopping to realize all that we’ve achieved. While we are looking forward to a brighter 2021, let’s not forget how far we’ve come and all we’ve done. Be kind and congratulate yourself (and your team) for accomplishing all you have under this year’s challenging circumstances.

Send out thank you notes to those who have helped or been by your side. Or, perhaps you were there for someone else this year. Why not reiterate how proud you are of them and their resilience. Consider if that praise applies to you as well.


Now is not the time to dwell on what we haven’t accomplished or finished. Twenty-twenty reminded many of us that life is unpredictable, so we must celebrate our achievements and remember to be kind to ourselves… because we deserve it.


First published at

Matthew Chapman

Matt’s passion for wellness has driven every aspect of his life. He started, and has grown, ChapmanCG into the world’s premier HR search company, which he founded and has kept completely virtual since 2008. His passion around HR and the future of work has fuelled his desire to invest in HR technology concepts and also to co-create the Thrive HR Exchange.

He is currently in training as a Founding Participant in the epic Snowman Race in Bhutan. He is a finisher of six 250 km desert ultramarathons in Chile, China, Egypt, Antarctica, Namibia and Madagascar.

Matt now resides at Parihoa, his seaside farm in New Zealand, where he is attuned to virtual working and manages his global business interests from here. He is a Singapore Citizen and counts Singapore as his other base.


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