Many time management techniques, tools and tips start with your calendar and priorities – the goal is to schedule your top priorities, rather than having your calendar drive you. For most of the year, this works well – we have concrete goals to achieve, and limited time to achieve them in. This outcome-based time management approach makes sense in these contexts.
Let’s face it, though — the holidays are different. November and December generally bring family, festivities, gifts and get-togethers. It is the time of year for connection and reflection, when the regular rules of time management are harder to apply.
So, let’s start with WHO.
Your time is a measure of energy during the holidays, so deciding who you want to invest your time and energy with upfront can help you make choices that reduce your stress levels. Here are some examples:
- Required Family Visits: Many people juggle multiple families in multiple places. Some are looked forward to, and some may not be. Decide early who you WANT to spend time with and then decide what the minimum commitment will be with the others. Proactively reaching out to establish visit timings will reduce the guilt of having to say no when Uncle Harold comes calling.
- Friends: Like families, we enjoy some friends more than others. Think of creative ways to connect with the friends you want to be with. Instead of scheduling a cocktail party or going out to dinner, consider a gift wrapping party or joint shopping trip with friends, when multi-tasking would add value and not detract from the relationship.
- Work: Be realistic about time management in the workplace at the end of the year. What MUST you complete before the end of the year? What can you negotiate or defer? Schedule leave as early as possible and then look again at your to-do list – and adjust both accordingly. Managing expectations with your boss – and yourself – will help create a stress-free zone.
- Giving Back: Who else do you generally interact with at the holidays? Do you do special volunteer work or attend religious services more? Think through who you want to be with or serve – and then give those people and causes the time that will give you and them the most meaning.
Time management is an important contributor to a stress-free holiday season – take care of you!