Finding time to do everything you need to and still fully enjoy the magic of the Holiday Season can be a big challenge. That’s why it’s good to start thinking about it early. If you prepare for your holidays now, you’ll find more time to enjoy friends and family throughout this special season.
Here are some timely tips to keep in mind, as we leave November behind and move toward the December holidays. Remember that starting to think about this soon helps put time on your side.
Your most important first step is to chart out your time on a calendar that displays the full month at a glance. This overview helps you assimilate your timeline. Notice the specifics about when your holidays occur, along with all the intervening activities and events. Include others’ events and activities that affect your holiday planning schedule. Are there school events or vacation times to consider? Be as all-inclusive as you can to give yourself the best possible picture of the days and weeks ahead.
This rule of thumb is a constant for ANY planning you do around this time of year. Remember the “times two rule” that states that everything you accomplish will take twice as long as you anticipate? Well, during the busy time from late-October to early-January, I encourage you to think about changing this to the “times three rule.” As the winter holidays approach, you can count on the fact that everything will take three times longer than you think it will, because there are so many things to do!
Be sure to set aside time for the ‘unscheduled’ events and preparations. It’s always a good idea to build in some ‘buffer’ time into your daily schedule. The more variables involved in a particular activity, the more chance there is that additional time will be needed. Even using the “times three rule” you can rest assured that there will be glitches and detours. The more cushion you can give yourself the better. (And if the time turns out not to be needed, you might use it for some relaxation and self care!)
Reflect on how you felt after the holiday season last year. Do you want to consider doing less this year? Simplifying your schedule can provide breathing room and may enhance your overall experience. Remember that decisions you make now can be altered next year, depending on how they feel to you. This flexibility can help you find the balance that makes your holiday time as enjoyable as possible for you and your loved ones.
By giving yourself an overview of the season, using the “times three rule” for planning, and factoring in time for the unexpected, you will find time to do the things that are important to you. This helps assure that your busy holiday season is a happy and satisfying one!
© Copyright 2011 Paula Eder, Ph.D.