This time of year I enjoy keeping busy with what I consider, ever-so-enjoyable-endeavours. I like to sit by the fire and peruse Pinterest for the perfect pumpkin recipes. Or, switch my summer and winter wardrobes; pulling out my puffy parka, warm, wooly sweaters and broken-in boots is comforting. Oh, and let’s not forget, one of my fall-favorites: leaf-peeping! Everywhere I look, nature’s paint brush is using big, bold splashes of vibrant colors – - glorious golds, radiant reds and pleasing plum tones. When I see the leaves falling, I realize there are only a few weeks remaining in the year. And, as an organizer, I know it’s the perfect time to start planning for the winter holidays.
Although the holiday season can be magical, it can also be stressful. Regular work and life obligations struggle to share schedule space with the flurrying hustle and bustle of holiday events and activities. To fully enjoy a more relaxed season, with enough flexibility to allow you to savor the magic, start planning today.
CHOOSE ACTIVITIES CAREFULLY
1) Propose scheduling business meetings as close to your office as possible. You’ll reduce travel time, particularly in areas where traffic is heavy. Alternatively, suggest venues close to your home for any appointments near the start or the end of your workday. Instead of driving all the way to the office, only to head out to a meeting thirty minutes later, pick locations that fit naturally along the routes you already travel.
2) Learn to say, “NO” to non-essential meetings that don’t advance your priorities. In-person meetings tend to start slowly and drag to a close, and meetings without clear goals can meander without ever hitting the mark. Before scheduling, make sure there’s a valid reason to meet in person. Can the matter be handled over the phone or via email? Would a Skype or Facetime call work just as well? Your associates will appreciate your focus on maximizing effort more efficiently by eliminating travel time and concentrating on essentials.
3) Identify and eliminate lower-priority activities that clutter your agenda without giving you a satisfying reward. Every party or open house you attend or host, every card you address and send out…is a choice. Remember, even traditions are optional; treating them like required obligations steals your delight and replaces it with resentment.
LEAVE WHITE SPACE ON YOUR CALENDAR
When we do more, we enjoy it less. Packing our schedules like an overstuffed suitcase may momentarily make us feel productive, but it limits our ability to reflect on our experiences, and gives us no opportunity to be spontaneous.
Arranging a buffer of daily free time is a wonderful antidote to interruptions. It creates an insurance policy, covering us when unexpected phone calls, traffic delays or even our most beloved distractions – our children, pets and friends – up-end our plans. A small blanket of white on the calendar can be as refreshing as finding a sparkling blanket of white on the front lawn.
FOCUS ON WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY
It’s common to get so wrapped up in non-essential obligations that you begin to feel like a sparkly-wrapped package of stale cookies. Truly enjoying the holidays means giving yourself the opportunity to find fresh delights in the season.
Analyze each opportunity with a sense of purpose; then, re-prioritize, being mindful about what you want the holiday season to mean. Start by asking questions like, “What am I passionate about?” and “What would make this season more joyful for me?” The clearer your focus, the more energy you can devote to what matters most. When you select activities that you value, your joy will naturally spill over into your interactions with others, sharing the enchantment.
Managing time really means managing ourselves. A few extra moments spent planning and organizing now, before the holidays are upon us, is time well spent.