This is Your Q4 Survival Guide

Posted on November 15, 2022

Outlook calendar day in dark mode, with large maroon block midday that says "off the grid - unplugged or else."

Today’s Morning Buzz is by Jessica VanderKolk, Communications Manager for the City of Battle Creek. Let’s be pocket friends on Twitter and LinkedIn!

  • What I’m wearing: All peppermint, all the time. This is my #PeppermintSeason.
  • What I’m watching: Season 5 of The Crown
  • What I’m hearing: All holiday music, all the time

As I sit down to write, I just finished packing small goodie bags for my office team. Two of us developed the idea to create survival packs for Q4, because it’s a doozy. Like many of you, we will welcome and help new city commissioners join the local government ranks. The most holidays in the shortest number of weeks are sneaking up behind us. There are many projects chugging along, while many people are taking time off to enjoy family, friends, the holidays, and a breather. Needless to say, we have many stressors.

It struck me at #ELGL22 when someone attending my Love and Limits session said they felt guilty coming to a self-care session over a learn-something-to-make-our-community-better session. I argue self-care DOES make our communities better. Burning out does no one any favors.

I want to reiterate a few of my tips from that session, which feels like a Part II to Stephanie’s Morning Buzz about how to overcome a case of the Mondays. I love creating, and sharing my communications projects with you (someone help me convince my Field Services Sup that we NEED to hold a snow plow naming contest…). I’m planning more of that in my next post, but for today, let’s circle up with our coffee and fuzzy blankets, and talk Q4 survival tips.


#1 – Use your PTO.

Let’s get this out of the way.

Really use your PTO, and really be off. I am not good at this, and my excuse is that I am a communicator who worked alone for a long time, and who is still training a new teammate. Today, in fact, I requested my PTO for the rest of this year, and my goal is to really be off, and really enjoy that time in a disconnected way. My out-of-office message will reflect that, and yours should, too.

#2 – Limit hours or turn off your phone notifications.

If you don’t do this already, it will change your life. First, as a communicator, I get so. Many. PHONE PINGS. My sound is almost always off. I do have a Garmin watch that pings me, too, and that sound is off. A vibration is enough.

I also completely turned off my work email notifications. It’s a scary move at first, but I check my email more often than I need to, so I am confident I won’t miss anything. Those who would need to reach me in a true emergency know how to do that beyond email. What a freeing move. I don’t have to stress about the dozen thread replies while I’m walking the dog. I can enjoy that moment, and check messages when I return.

#3 – Pay attention to you for a moment. Ready? Drop your shoulders. Loosen your jaw. Deep breath in and out.

That’s it!

Put it on a sticky note on your monitor or your bathroom mirror. I don’t realize I need this until I see the reminder.

#4 – Move your body.

I run, and I love it and hate it. #IYKYK

I love working remote because I can run in the middle of the day. When I feel stuck or frustrated, I love being able to stop and take the dog out for a brisk walk. Go out and feel the sunshine (or the rain, or snow), walk around the block, sit on the stoop. Go get the mail.

Find a way to move that moves you. Like video games? I highly recommend Just Dance. Search yoga videos on YouTube; there are tons. Stretch. If you have stairs, climb up and down a few times to get your heart pumping. It can change your day, or at the least, give you some fresh air, Vitamin D, or a few endorphins.


I love Q4. My birthday is coming up, and my family loves our holiday traditions this time of year. I do not love the stress in Q4, so my goal is to take my own advice.

Know what else makes this the most wonderful time? Joyful activities from ELGL!

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