As much as we may like to be spontaneous and flexible the rest of the year, the festive season is best enjoyed when properly organised! So we’ve developed some time management tips to help guide you – stress free – through this Christmas period.
Write it all down
Not just the big stuff either, now is the time to be specific. Include your work, recreational and social events all on the one list. One of the biggest stressors around this time of the year is feeling as if you’re pulled in every direction. By making a list of everything you need to get done over the festive season, it will help you to feel in control and avoid the nagging doubt that you have overlooked something – or indeed someone!
Make some me-time
At Christmas we tend to put other people first and forget about what we need. That’s the wrong way to do it. You should always looks after yourself first so that you are sharing your very best self with your colleagues, friends and family. We would even go as far as to suggest you add yourself to your to-do list (see point above), just so you don’t forget to focus on who’s important.
Stick to a schedule
Setting a schedule may not be exciting, but it is necessary to ensure that you make time for everything you want – and need – to do. Take each item off your to-do list and transfer it across to your calendar, along with an estimate of how long you think it will take you. Make sure that you are realistic about your time commitments and don’t forget to schedule in the daily events too, like meal times. Rather than see the schedule as something that binds you, regard it as a tool that gives you the freedom to accept festive opportunities as they arise.
Christmas is a special time, a magical time, so feel free to be creative with your schedule and use it to remind you of the spirit of Christmas. Instead of writing ‘gift shopping for mum’ change it to ‘looking for the perfect gift to remind mum just how special she is to us’; rather than ‘team Christmas lunch’ think of it as an ‘opportunity to learn more about my colleagues and what makes them tick’. It may sound like a silly idea initially, but when we’re harried it really helps to remind ourselves why we’re busy and why certain activities are important to us.
As well as making sure that things don’t fall through the cracks, schedules are also a great way of helping us appreciate and be present during the festive season. By scheduling something into our calendar, we are giving ourselves permission to spend the time doing things that are important to us, so savour the time you have allocated to the task in hand and remember to enjoy yourself.
Time management is all about prioritising and you can’t do that effectively if you don’t put a value on time. Knowing what time is worth – both yours and other people’s - can help you decide whether you can do something yourself, or delegate / outsource. Let’s give an example: the house needs its annual deep clean but it will mean taking a day’s leave; you know that a cleaner can be brought in for £2 less per hour than you earn, therefore bringing in a cleaner to help with the house makes financial sense. Plus, if you schedule in the cleaner to come when you know you’ve got to be at work – office lunch, important meeting etc – this means you’ve effectively freed up your time to do something else.
Prepare to prioritise
Go through your schedule and give each entry a grading – 1, 2 or 3. Make a distinction between your obligations (i.e. things that are non-negotiable and can’t be moved – this could be something like a school play); the things that mean a lot to you and you’d be really happy if you could manage it (like Christmas drinks with your work colleagues); and those events or activities that you would make time for if possible, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you couldn’t manage it (shopping for a secret santa gift).
If you find prioritising difficult, ask yourself:
- What will happen if I don’t do this?
- Is there anyone else who can do this instead of me?
- How will I feel when this task/event has been done?
Prioritising your Christmas to-do list is slightly different to any other time of the year in that it is about balancing your work and family obligations alongside the social events that give you real joy and enjoyment, so make sure that your schedule reflects this.
Finally, don’t be afraid to say no. There will, no doubt, be additional pulls on your time but before you agree, ask yourself these things:
- Do you really have the time or energy to do that extra task?
- Will it eat into your personal / family time?
- Does it involve doing something you enjoy?
Remember to try and stick to your schedule, enjoy the festivities and make this Christmas one to remember – for all the right reasons!