Easy Time Management Strategies for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

For as many fun things that we participate in during the holiday season, there are an equal or greater number of activities that we feel pressure to participate in or attend.

Planning out the week in advance, making fewer commitments, and grouping necessary errands together are ways to alleviate demands on our time so that we can accomplish important tasks and feel good about our efforts – and most importantly, to enjoy ourselves!

To reduce the stress involved in being “all-things-to-all-people”, make a short list of events and activities you enjoy and wish to do with friends or family. Then, perform quick research on the details, make a plan and schedule time for one or more in your calendar. This way you’ve carved out time for you and/or family to enjoy time together, and ensure that you’ve made commitments to people you value, instead of extending yourself in all directions. (Do you really want to do a second cookie-exchange, or attend your third neighborhood open-house?)

Seasonal shopping also demands a lot of time. One way to manage the variety of errands is to plan weekly goals for meeting your list of needs (especially during those last 10 days of the season).  Make a grid on paper (or a table in Word, Excel or a GoogleDoc to easily reference from a smart phone) to list the names of people or preparations you need to shop for, and corresponding columns to denote items and status: 1) gift ideas for that person, 2) purchased, and 3) wrapped – don’t forget items needed for parties you will attend or plans for baking and decorating.  This allows you to keep track of what you’ve already done, and to plan your week ahead to address the gaps.

As part of the weekly plan, batch and schedule errands.  This is most important!  Looking ahead at your commitments, designate shopping to specific days and times to reduce unnecessary trips to congested stores.  To further reduce the run-around time, devote your gift shopping hours to the computer and order as many items as you can online, especially for those out-of-town recipients.

Consider gifts that will be well received and used by your recipients, chosen with their needs, hobbies and interests in mind.

Consumable gifts such as gourmet food items, homemade meals or treats, food/drink/flower club memberships are fitting for a wide range of people, and are good choices for limited budgets.

Gifts of service are always appreciated and can include babysitting vouchers, car wash tickets, salon certificates, or an online meal planning service like the Six O’Clock Scramble (one of my favorites).  Consider gift certificates for continuing education classes (art, language, computer) or lessons to hone skills or explore hobbies (exercise or dance, cooking, music). Buy tickets for an upcoming event or membership passes to local cultural arts organizations. Your recipient will appreciate your thoughtful gift and be excited that they won’t have to find a place for it!

Here’s hoping you are showered with clutter-free gifts this holiday!

With best wishes for a happy and safe season full of fun,