If you regularly have a lot going on in life, the added tasks of the holidays can wreak havoc on your time management. Shopping, hosting, holiday cards, parties, travel…where does the time come from to fit everything in?

1. Time Estimating

One of the biggest time management traps is magical thinking about how long tasks will take. An easy rule of thumb is to estimate how long a task will take and then double it! If you end up with time, you’ll have no trouble filling it.

Be realistic about your schedule. Some things have to be given to make room for the extra tasks of the holidays. Time isn’t going to appear in your calendar magically. Be vigilant about passing on opportunities that don’t help your goal of having a wonderful holiday. That could mean saying “no” to the 7th Christmas party invitation!

2. Simplify Your Task List

There are many ways to enjoy your holidays; some are less time-consuming than others. For example, if you realize it will take 10 hours to put together holiday cards (including addressing, stamping, and getting them to the mailbox), you may choose to do something simpler – or choose a different time of year to reach out and connect. Remember your original desire to make connections with family and friends. Realize there are many ways to do that.

Other time-saving examples:

  • Store-bought food instead of homemade
  • Pot-luck instead of full hosting
  • E-cards instead of mailed cards
  • Gift bags and tissue instead of gift wrapping

3. Don’t Go It Alone

It’s easy to feel we are solely responsible for making a memorable and magical experience for our loved ones. That can be pretty unrealistic and overwhelming. Have a look at your task list and see how you can share the load:

  • Where can the kids participate?
  • Can you invite a friend to work with you- baking or gift wrapping?
  • Are there cleaning or errands you delegate or hire out?

Where possible, focus your time and energy on the tasks you enjoy and learn how to get help from others.

4. Learn from holidays past

  • Think back on what worked before. Was there a year when you breezed through the holiday with ease? What worked?
  • If there was a season that went poorly, you felt more stressed, you didn’t enjoy the celebrations – ask yourself, “What could you do to avoid those pitfalls?”
  • You could jot notes and track how long it took to prepare for a party, do the gift shopping, pick out clothes to wear to the gala, to find the best gifts for your friends and family or determine which character you’ll come as to the Dickens Faire. These estimates could provide a template for happy holidays to come.

5. Balance

Holidays can be a time when life gets out of balance. In order to make more time in our schedules, we often sacrifice personal time for exercise or re-charge. Make it a priority to plan in time for self-care so you can give the gift that really matters – yourself!

Taking this time to practice time management can help you for the rest of your life!