This is part 2 in a series on destressing this holiday season.
Last week we talked about creating priorities for this holiday season. To see that post and get your free printable, go here.
This week we are talking about calendars. Yes, I know that may not sound like stress reduction but I promise if you do this one task this week you will experience less stress.
Last week we identified our priority this holiday season. We identified what is most important to us and our family. This week we are going to take it the next step and put those priorities in our calendar. When it comes to calendars and the holidays, I like to calendar 3 things.
1. Calendar early
2. Calendar YES list
3. Calendar margin
I like to think of a calendar similar to a budget. Putting something on the calendar is not a restriction. It is showing me where my time is going, it is documenting what is important to me and making it a priority. I give myself the freedom to reschedule if something comes up or rearrange if necessary. But if the important things are not on my calendar in the first place I am prone to overcommitting or not having my priorities in order.
Because the holidays have extra tasks, I have gotten in a habit of asking myself "are there tasks that can be done early?" I found fitting all the tasks for Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, holiday meal planning, Christmas cookie making, etc all fitting into December can be extremely stressful. I have begun to calendar some tasks earlier. For instance, I now start my Christmas card in early November. My family makes lefse every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year my aunt asked if we want to make a tradition of having a lefse baking day in early November. I eagerly said yes. This is an important tradition for our family, a lot of fun, but its also a big job. This task is now done in early November and we just freeze the lefse for the holidays. Having this task done well before Thanksgiving has reduced stress. As you go through the holidays this year ask yourself if this is a task that could start early. Then adjust for this year or make a note for next year. Take notice of the tasks this year that you find are bringing you the most stress. And then ask yourself if it would reduce your stress to have this task done earlier.
After thinking about what tasks can be calendared early, next you calendar your YES list. At this point you may not have specific dates but it is important to put your priorities in your calendar. If making Christmas cookies with your kids was on your yes list, this week put that in your calendar. Maybe you don't know exactly what day you will be going to see holiday lights this year but based on what else might be going on you know what week it could fit in, pencil it in for that week. The big idea with this step is not to stress about figuring out every little detail, but to pencil in your yes list. To get the important things in the calendar. You can always come back when the exact details are determined and get those dates in ink. But for now you are merely putting in your calendar what is most important this holiday, and when you think those will happen. At this step I even calendar Christmas shopping and mailing packages. These were the tasks that used to fit in nooks and crannies of time and added stress. I really needed to schedule times in for these tasks. Calendaring your priorities for the holidays will help when invitations come your way. You can feel confident responding, knowing the most important events and tasks already have a place in your schedule.
The last thing I calendar for the holidays is margin. I know what you are thinking - that is IMPOSSIBLE. But hear me out. Having a schedule not packed to the gills will reduce your stress this holiday. When I calendar margin here are some of the practical ways I do it.
- I don't schedule something every night of the week. I purposely leave one night free every week.
- When it comes to Christmas shopping I plan on more shopping session/ online shopping time then I think I will need. This has helped me not feel like I am running out of time but that I am actually getting done early. I simply put those times in my calendar.
- I schedule my packages to mail early. And leave margin. So if the packages need to be mailed by December 20 to get them on time for Christmas, I put in my calendar December 15 and that gives me 5 days margin.
- I remind myself I do not need to say yes to everything and remind myself what I am saying yes to and no to this holiday
I know this may seem over the top but I am telling you it has worked. Being extra intentional with time and margin over the holidays has been one of the most significant ways I have reduced stress.
And finally, my husband and I talk through all of this together as early as possible. We make sure we both have all the dates in our calendars and talk through the extra tasks and who is doing what. This helps us be a unified front. It has been a process and we definitely have not done this perfectly every year, but the years we are most intentional with our schedule and being on the same page have gone the best and been the least stressful.
The beauty of being intentional with your calendar is there is a shift from the demands of the schedule dictating your life to a peaceful strength of setting priorities and making them happen. It may be operating differently but it will make a difference in your holiday season and in your life.