Top 10 Secrets to a Stressless AND Productive Holiday Season

Oh, it never fails that at this time of year, I find it hard to keep up with things. I know I’m not alone in my battle to continue to grow my business in the midst of holiday parties and an unquenchable urge to bake lots of cookies!

Never fear, dear people! I DO have some great tips for you. And I have a little secret: They work best when you actually do them!! I say that because we love to read this kind of list post, get great ideas, then the ideas fall by the wayside when crunch time comes. (And I say that from personal experience, too!)

Make a commitment now to incorporate one or two of these into your To Do list now! Got more ideas? Send them to me and I will post them (with due credit) throughout the rest of the year!

  1. Be 0rganized
    I know. Duh. But I’m talking probably most specifically about lists. I’m not talking about gift lists, though those will help too. What will help you the most is to make a quick outline for what you want to accomplish between now and the end of the year. Break it down into chunks - and the ’size of the chunk’ is important.

    The reason that this is so important is because if the chunks are too big, you can slip into overwhelm mode - same with them being too small - your list could go on for pages and look too daunting.

    So keep this list to 7 - 10 things, such as:
    Gift Shopping
    Home Decoration
    House Cleaned
    Holiday Parties
    Arrange all Travel Plans
    Business Musts

  2. Separate the MUSTs from SHOULDs
    Part two of the first tip is to put your more specific To Do’s under each category you have in your first list. But here are the ‘rules’: You must put each category on a separate page.You must have two lists for each category - your Musts and your Shoulds. You are not allowed to have 90% Musts!!! Make it at least a 60-40 split. :)
    Use the three “R’s” as your guide; be Realistic, be Ruthless (about shifting Musts to Shoulds), and ReExamine (have a level headed friend review your list to ensure you aren’t getting too perfectionistic!!)

  3. Schedule sanity time
    You may think this would go on the “SHOULDs” list.


    This time needs to go on your MUSTs list. You can’t be there for others if you are fried, stressed, grumpy, tired and frazzled. And you’ll negatively impact your own holiday fun in the process. I’m not talking about a weekend away at the spa. Schedule things like:

    A family game night
    A quick manicure while you are already at the mall
    Watch a football game
    30 minutes in the tub with a trashy novel (or a good self help book, I guess!!)
    Build a fire and drink a big mug of hot chocolate (or a big glass of wine if things are really getting busy!!)
    An hour just surfing StumbleUpon, Digg, or links

    A little conscious rejuvenation goes a long way. Make sure you get yours and make it a top priority - you’ll be glad you did.

  4. Get an accountability partner
    No matter if I am working for myself, or working for someone else, every year I have a hard time focusing on work in December. It’s one of my favorite times of the year and family comes first. But if you drop the ball too much now, you will go into overwhelm mode in January, and lose precious business opportunities along the way.

    Here is my simple formula for being accountable: Create consequences. If I don’t do things on my “Must” list, my Mastermind Group holds me to my self-imposed leverage. Like I would have to give each person $250, or I would have to destroy a favorite photograph, or I would have to grow out my usually well hidden moustache (remember I am a mom, not a dad ;) ). I actually feel far less stress when I don’t procrastinate.

  5. Schedule time to brainstorm New Years goals
    Having exciting goals in place will give you some great benefits during the holiday season. Not only will it give you a huge head start come January, but it also is natural built-in motivation to work once the holidays are over - no more holiday vacation hangovers for you! (Thanks to CJCM for this tip)

    You will want to ensure that you don’t put off too much stuff until January because you have great things to work on in 2007. Be sure to make your actions today support your actions tomorrow! (Read :: don’t sabotage your resolutions early!)

  6. Commit to the things you CAN control
    If you aren’t the one decorating the outside of the home, you can’t commit to putting up the lights. You can ONLY commit to MAKING the REQUEST of your spouse to put up the lights. Once you have made that request, it gets scratched off of your list. Phew!

    So be careful of what you put on your list, and how you word it specifically. You will cause yourself undue frustration if someone else is responsible for getting something done on your list.

  7. KISS - Keep it Simple, Stupid
    Do you really need to have a big dinner party or open house? I got tempted to do just that this year, because this is our first “real” holiday in our home (we moved exactly one year ago this weekend). The decorations are up, the house looks beautiful, and I want everyone over to enjoy it - but wait!

    Since I just did Thanksgiving, I was lucky enough to have a fresh memory of just how much work it is to make and serve a big dinner. So in a flash of mini-brilliance, I focused on what I really wanted - an enjoyable evening with my family. So instead of having Christmas Eve dinner at our house, we are simply having Christmas Eve dessert.

    Cookies, pie, hot chocolate and coffee. So much easier. So much less stress. And I’m SO much more excited about it, too!

  8. Ask for or give favors instead of presents
    If you have a friend or relative with more time than you do this year, why not ask for a little help instead of another yucky holiday sweater?Errands, babysitting, cleaning, decorating - anything that is time consuming can be delegated. And what better way to delegate than to give someone an opportunity to do you a HUGE favor and make a big difference in you December??

    In the past, I have taken my nieces and nephews overnight, did marketing work, and designed brochures or logos for friends and family as gifts. I loved helping out by giving something that was truly needed - THEY loved the help and the time they freed up in the process!

  9. Eat right, sleep well and stay on top of exercise routines
    I know this one is hard - so hard - during December. Go easy on this one, but don’t let it all go to hell. Indulgence is fine - but stay on top of eating lots of veggies, fruits, and lowfat meals as much as possible. Get as much sleep as possible. If getting to the gym is difficult, put Exercise TV on. Or park farther away at the mall (you may get to do this anyway!!). Stretch daily. Drink LOTS of water.The only times I ever get sick is when I let myself get run-down. Being sick takes up too much time - so my health is a big priority. It’s also very important to Ariane, who gave me this tip. :) Thanks Ariane!
  10. Focus on your outcome
    Your outcome isn’t a big spending spree with loads of parties and a big wrapping paper mess. Nor is it a frazzled crunch to have a perfect gingerbread house, every corner of the house decorated, or the ideal blown glass vase for your second-cousin-once-removed.

    Your outcome is [probably] a wonderfully enjoyable holiday season shared with family and friends. Use your emotions as your “Outcome Gauge”. If you start feeling anything that really bothers you - ask yourself, “What am I focusing on??”. I’ll bet you $1000 that if you honestly answer that question in that moment, you are NOT focusing on a “wonderfully enjoyable holiday season shared with family and friends“. So shift your focus to what it is that you WANT, and go for it!

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2 Comments on “Top 10 Secrets to a Stressless AND Productive Holiday Season”

  1. Angel Cope Says:

    Great tips. I can get frazzled and spend way too much, but if I just sit down and make a list of who I want to buy for and how much to spend on each, not only do I save headache, I also save money and time.
    In the past I have actually bought the same gift twice, and bought 2 gifts for someone, because I forgot what all i had bought. So take the time to be organized you will be glad in the end.

  2. Evan Says:

    Another great post! I commented on it in my newest blog post Mastermind Accountability Partner

    Keep up the great work!