In theory, the holiday season is about seeing loved ones and celebrating new and old traditions. But it doesn’t always feel that way. Too often, the holidays stress us out! Back-to-back events and changes to our normal routine understandably shake us up a bit. Additionally, there’s an unspoken pressure to look like we’re having a holly jolly time when sometimes we just want to pass on the eggnog and curl up on the couch.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, in many cases we do want be festive; we just need to find the time and energy. With the following tips for staying organized during the holidays, you can take care of all those extra holiday responsibilities (trips to the post office, after-work office party, etc.) while still getting to focus on the most important aspects of the season — your loved ones and your cherished traditions.
Of course, you can also apply these tips to any busy month that you foresee coming your way. If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know the power of a well-thought-out, long-range calendar!
Write down everything you need to do. This includes events that cannot be skipped, like Aunt Alyssa’s ugly sweater party (she would be crushed!), and general holiday responsibilities: picking out and wrapping gifts, travel, cooking or procuring food for guests, etc. We suggest breaking down these tasks as much as possible. For example, if you need to send gifts to faraway relatives, this involves a series of tasks like purchasing, wrapping, and packing gifts, then taking them to the post office.
Write down everything you want to do. This is your holiday activity wish list. Want to bake cookies and watch It’s a Wonderful Life? Write it down. Want to use time off from work to deep clean the curtains? Write it down.
Prioritize these needs and wants and schedule them. If you schedule when you’re going to do these activities — and honor that schedule — you’ll be more likely to get everything done without feeling frazzled. If your schedule is getting too packed, ask yourself, are these “needs” really necessary?
Plan downtime. When you’re drawing up your schedule for the next month, be sure to leave some blank space. If your holiday season looks like it’s going to be packed, there is no need to fill up every space next month. You’ll want time to relax and do nothing.
If you’re traveling, or if people are traveling to see you (lucky!), create a master document of travel methods and itineraries. Keep it somewhere handy — like a printout on your fridge or saved to the cloud so you can access it on your phone. It may also be helpful to distribute this master doc to all parties involved. Make sure everyone is on board with who’s picking up who and at what time.
Make tedious “chores” fun. Some like the idea of gift wrapping, but their skills are seriously lacking. By the end of it, they never want to look at scotch tape again. But it always helps to make an “event” out of it. Try drinking a latte or glass of wine while listening to your favorite podcast or Christmas album to help change it into a fun tradition.
Let go. There will be times when you can’t accomplish absolutely everything on your list — or perhaps your apple pie was missing some elusive ingredient. It’s okay. Re-center yourself with some deep breathing or gentle yoga and remember what’s most important about the season for you. Let go of intense expectations, and find something enjoyable in the moment you’re currently in.