If you regularly have a lot going on in life, the added tasks of the holidays can wreak havoc on your time management. Shopping, hosting, holiday cards, parties, travel…where does the time come from to fit everything in?
One of the biggest traps of time management is magical thinking around how long tasks will take. An easy rule of thumb is to estimate how long a task will take then double it! If you end up with time on your hands you’ll have no trouble filling it.
Be realistic about your schedule. Some things have to give to make room for the extra tasks of the holidays. Time isn’t going to magically appear in your calendar. Be vigilant about passing on opportunities that arise that don’t help your goal of having a wonderful holiday. That could mean saying “no” to the 7th Christmas party invitation!
Simplify Your Task List
There are many ways to enjoy your holidays and some are less time consuming than others. For example, if you realize it will take you 10 hours to put together holiday cards (including addressing, stamping and getting them to the mailbox) you may choose to do something simpler – or choose a different time of year to reach out and connect. Remember your original desire to make connections with family and friends. Realize there are many ways to do that.
Other time saving examples:
- Store-bought food instead of homemade
- Pot-luck instead of full hosting
- E-cards instead of mailed cards
- Gift bags and tissue instead of gift wrapping
Don’t Go It Alone
It’s easy to feel like we are solely responsible to make a memorable and magical experience for our loved ones. That can be pretty unrealistic and overwhelming. Have a look at your task list and see how you can share the load:
- Where can the kids participate?
- Can you invite a friend to work with you- baking or gift wrapping?
- Is there cleaning or errands you delegate or actually hire out?
Where possible, focus your time and energy on the tasks you really enjoy and figure out how to get help with the others.
Learn from holidays past
Think back on what worked before. Was there a year where you breezed through the holiday with ease? What worked?
If there was a season that went poorly, you felt more stressed, you didn’t enjoy the celebrations – ask yourself, “What could you do to avoid those pitfalls?”
You could jot notes and track how long it actually took to: prepare for a party, to do the gift shopping, to pick out clothes to wear to the gala, to find the best gifts for your friends and family or to determine which character you’ll come as to the Dickens Faire. These estimates could provide a template for happy holidays to come.
Holidays can be a time when life gets out of balance. In order to make more time in our schedules we often sacrifice personal time for exercise or re-charge. Make it a priority to plan in time for self-care so you can give the gift that really matters – yourself!
Taking this time to practice time management can help you in the rest of your life!