Time Management Tips for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is portrayed as a wonderful time where everyone is happy and tranquility reigns but for many people it’s a time of increased anxiousness. Some time management tips can help reduce the stress and help you really enjoy the time of the year.

Here are my choice time management techniques for surviving the holiday season. With these you can not only endure the holidays but enjoy them as well.

1. Make lists, detailed lists.

Santa had the right idea. There’s far too much to get done and too many things to take into account to keep track of it all in your head. Write down everything that needs doing. Beside each item, mark about how much time you need to accomplish the task and take note if it’s a “must do” or a “would be nice”.

Here’s a list of tasks you may include:

* Choose cookie recipes and make store list
* Buy cookie ingredients
* Bake 5 dozen cookies
* Buy 3 dozen Xmas cards
* Create Xmas card list
* Write Xmas cards
* Find eggnog recipe and list ingredients (Jones party)
* Shop for eggnog ingredients
* Prepare homemade eggnog for the Jones party

Note that tasks have been split into specifics. Instead of “bake 5 dozen cookies” there is also a task to determine the recipes and create the store list and another task to go to the store to buy the ingredients. It’s easy to forget the pre-planning but that will result in discovering you are missing key ingredients after you’ve fired up the oven to get started.

Treat Christmas cards the same. You can’t just have a seat and write them out, you have to figure out how many you will need, go to the store and purchase the cards and assemble your recipient list. Plan for the steps you need to succeed at the overall task of sending Christmas cards.

Another set of tasks is for making your personal homemade eggnog for your friend’s party. As we get into time organizing you may discover this one is not able to be achieved. This can easily be simplified to “pick up eggnog at the grocery.”

Make one more list of everyone you might need to buy a present for and add present ideas and the total you want to spend. This can help you not merely plan your time but plan your finances, too.

2. Plan the time and effort on your calendar.

Now that you have your lists plus the priorities, get a calendar and let’s plan. Utilize a calendar you can write on or an online calendar where you can mark tasks and time. Take all your tasks and slot them into days on your calendar. It will quickly become apparent what you can get done this year and what it will be necessary to cut.

Once your calendar is complete, post it where it is in plain sight, for example on the refrigerator. Now you have a plan of action you should feel good about and a good feeling for what you will able to accomplish and when. Be sure you added in some time for you to relax and enjoy yourself. Now let’s look at ideas to achieve more or to achieve more by someone instead of you.

3. Delegate tasks to others.

Include loved ones and not only are you going to get some assistance, but you can make the tasks entertaining for you and your family.

In the list above there was a task to bake 5 dozen cookies. There are a couple techniques to undertake this. If your children are old enough, give this task to them. Permit them to pick the recipes and come up with the list of ingredients. If old enough they can shop for the ingredients also. Have them bake the cookies. This could become a fun family tradition as they happily showcase their choices. The important thing for you is to let them accomplish this without the need of your guidance. Relax and enjoy the peace and quiet or knock off an additional activity while they are baking.

An alternative fun approach is to coordinate a cookie baking event with your friends. Have your close friends provide the recipes they want along with the ingredients list with quantities listed. Go shopping for the ingredients and share the cost evenly among the participants. At the appointed time, get together and create and bake the cookies. Open up a bottle of wine to go with it and have a fun time catching up with close friends as you bake. Split the selection of cookies evenly and you will end up with a nice variety of holiday cookies.

Exactly the same strategies as above can be utilized for gift wrapping get-togethers as well. Let the creativity flow and look for more ways to delegate to others or make a party.

And delegation doesn’t have to be exclusively for holiday duties. Have your kids do the washing, or ask your partner to cook dinner. Once your family is accustomed to pitching in, continue this all year and watch your overall stress and anxiety levels decrease.

4. Outsource

Don’t try to be superwoman or superman and do everything yourself. Hire someone else! Employ a cleaning service to clean your home before the holidays. If you can find the money for it, hire them again right after the holidays to help you with all the post-holiday cleaning.

Do you have little time or ability to bake? Purchase your cookies, bread and rolls from the bakery. It is possible to take this even further and purchase your full holiday dinner hot and ready to serve.

5. Avoid the shopping mall – use the internet!

Many online merchants offer you free shipping throughout the holiday season and quite a few also provide fast shipping for last minute shopping. Purchase online and relax. Would you rather spend time at your computer and browse while sipping a hot cup of coffee or go out and battle the throngs of people at the mall? Many web retailers even store your recipients’ names and addresses so if you used them before, you won’t need to key in the information again.

Yet another advantage of shopping online is that you don’t need to wrap and ship those items for out-of-town recipients. I don’t think anybody enjoys standing in line at the post office, especially as it gets close to Christmas and the lines get long.

6. Prepare for next year.

This last tip will get you a jump start on the next holiday season. When you make that list of card recipients and their addresses, put it where you can find it next year. Do the same with your cookie recipes and ingredient lists.

An effective way to keep track of all of this is to make a holiday box or a holiday folder on your laptop. In conjunction with the items pointed out in this article, include the name and contact information for the house cleaning service you made use of. Make note of the online merchants you used and liked. Add in your gift recipient list and budget so you’ll remember who you gifted and the amount.

Take advantage of these time management tips to experience a low stress holiday season.