By Tatiana Valadares – Life Coach
Here we are at the most beautiful time of the year – a week before Christmas, and like it or not, the busiest time as well. Many of us find ourselves rushing around with too much to do and the beautiful season becomes exhausting.
I know exactly how December feels. My personal relationship with this month is quite stressful. I have 6 birthday celebrations in my family, I have to manage personal business as the fiscal year comes to a close both here and in my home country of Brazil, I share a home with three teenagers and one amazing man who deserves all my time and love. In addition, we celebrate Christmas twice – once in the Brazilian style and second time with American traditions. As a woman, I’m traditionally responsible for all of the shopping.
In order to not only survive but also enjoy the holiday season, I put together a few time management techniques for all of us to maintain our wellness and improve our productivity during this time of the year. Some apply to work, others to our personal lives, but all are applicable to lowering overall stress levels and promoting accountability.
1 – Prioritize – First, you can have a good talk with yourself and decide, based on your own limits and taking into consideration your lifestyle, your goals for the season. Decide what you need to accomplish and how much time you have available. Being mindful of the days remaining on the calendar, list all your tasks and remove the ones that do not qualify as a priority. Being aware of what is important to you and what is not is fundamental, not only for the holidays, but for life.
2 – Set Healthy Boundaries and learn how to say ‘no’ – As the famed investor Warren Buffet says – “The biggest difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people know how to say no.”
You are the one in control of your life and you know what is best for you. If you don’t, I suggest that you explore this territory within yourself a little bit more. Include reviewing your priorities and limits on your 2016 to-do-list, because the more you know yourself, the easier it becomes to set boundaries. Especially this time of the year when events and requests of your time increases dramatically. When something doesn’t feel like a priority to you, don’t feel guilty, don’t over explain yourself, just simply decline.
3 – Schedule –Place your priority items from your to-do-list on your calendar. If it’s scheduled, it’s done – that’s the rule. With the advances of technology today, we have a range of options for calendars and reminders that work like a miracle for every type of personality or tech-ability ”.
4 – Expect Delays and Downtime – Here is a great opportunity for you to practice compassion, patience and forgiveness. Learn that not everyone masters the art of managing time, so you will probably find yourself waiting extra minutes in your doctor’s office, lines at stores might be longer, and people in general will be running late. Take this extra time to exercise stillness and forgive, after all, this is what Christmas is all about. Have compassion and know that people are doing their best, even if their best isn’t very great.
5 – Don’t Catch the Multitask Train – Too much multitasking harms your ability to focus on the big picture and it can lower your productivity by up to 40%, says Peter Bregman, a blog writer for Harvard Business Review.
Sticking to your schedule and accomplishing your to-do list one-by-one will not only prevent stress but also accidents. How many of us had to go back to the store the day before Christmas during the rush hour of last minute shoppers to exchange something purchased by mistake due to being distracted and “talking on the phone while shopping”?
Being mindful about your activities and present in your tasks save a lot of anxiety and time.
6 – Take time to yourself – Last but not least, is to schedule (yes, schedule, to make sure it will be done!) a break. We all need to unplug for a while to be able to function better. Make time for a massage, for a skin care treatment or even some time alone at home for “Me-time” in a salt bath or on the couch reading a good book. Resting is very important to maintain your health and your cheerful mood.
Remember that these suggestions are not limited to the holidays, they also work all year long so you don’t need to put them away along with your Christmas Tree. If you find it difficult to manage your time and maintain healthy stress levels, I invite you to come with me in a Stress and Time Management Coaching Program at Four Pillars.