We are on the edge of the holiday seasons. Our excitement stirs as we think about the smells, activities and fun that each event brings. But, just as joy fills our thoughts, stress often fills the body! All of the to-dos, dates, expenses, people and other holiday demands fill our minds. It’s time to make this year different! Here are 5 basic strategies to help you plan a balanced and joyful holiday:
1. Have a VISION. Spend a few moments dreaming about the holidays. Consider what you want your holidays to look like this year. Think about your essential 8 (balance wheel). How do you want to handle work, family, personal and outside obligations? Take a few minutes to picture your vision and then write it down. What is important that you want to do? What is not included in your vision? What is different this year than you have done in the past?
2. CLEAR Your Mind. Thinking about all the things that you have to do, divide a piece of paper into the 4 major categories that represent where you will be spending most of your time this holiday season. (i.e. work, family, home, church). Jot down everything that must be done and all the things you would like to. What is most important for you to finish by the end of the year (projects, deadlines, etc.)? What commitments are on your plate over the course of the next few weeks? What would you need to do to make your holiday vision a reality? Be sure to consider each area of your life. (See the balance wheel) List everything here, even little things. If you don't it is like having 20 windows open on your computer and your brain will work slower. You can't afford forgetfulness or delays at this busy time of the year. WRITE IT DOWN!
3. PRIORITIZE your projects.
- Deadlines and Time. Note when each project must be done and how much time this will take you. This is just a simple reality check. There are only so many hours. Is it realistic you will get this done? Do you need to do it, delegate it, ask for help or trash it? Don't set yourself up to fail before you've even started!
- Evaluate. Review your list and consider which items are the most important and which are the least important. Highlight the items that are MUST DO'S. Do yourself a favor, and cross off the things that are wishes, but you know you will simply not have time to do.
- Commit. In order to accomplish your vision and necessities, what will you do and will you NOT do? For example, my vision is to do 3 Christmas activities with my family, so I will commit to putting those on the calendar and I will commit to baking cookies on one day only (will NOT get stuck in the kitchen each Sat.). Or my vision is to take Christmas Eve, Day and one day on either side off, so I will arrange to block out my calendar and will commit to NO appointments on those days.
4. STREAMLINE your projects/tasks. Determine what tasks need to be accomplished in order for each item on your list to be completed. So that you’re making minimal shopping stops/errands and spending minutes instead of hours doing research and online searches, it’s important to "group" like tasks. Have a clipboard with the following sheets on it: Gifts, Errands/Shopping, Office, Home and Scheduling. As you think about your projects, put the to-do's on the "GROUP" lists so that you can quickly reference it and accomplish more in less time. For example, Gift Giving. Think through all the people you want to send cards to, give gifts to – from friends, family, business colleagues, neighbors, service professionals (mailman, hairdresser, etc.), and the people for whom you purchase gifts each year. Be sure to note budget, likes and details like each person’s birth year and size.
5. PLAN how you will get it done! For each area on your list, ask yourself “How will I stick to this plan?" Create for yourself a system that will ensure that you follow through on the plan that you created. Now that you have your projects, priorities and groups, put what you will do, how will you do it and when you will do it. Planning time for your projects is a sure way to guarantee your success.
- Use one calendar; put all professional and personal appointments on your calendar.
- Make sure to block out accurate time to complete the project/tasks.
- Set up buddies/accountability as needed to make sure you keep the appointment/deadline.
- Make sure to schedule any "prep" work that needs to be done for projects.
- Review the next day's schedule/plan each night before you go to bed.
- Make sure to schedule time for self-care! To perform at your best emotionally, mentally and physically, take time each day to take care of yourself: exercise, drink water, take your vitamins, get enough sleep, and relax!
Once you create your plan, stick to it! Do not procrastinate, because your plan is built on deadlines and priorities. So force yourself to get it done. This often works best by doing the "hard" thing, first thing in the day. As you follow your plan, you load will get lighter, the system works and your holidays become balanced and joy-filled.