Friday, December 05, 2008

Elephants and Planning for the Holidays

When it comes to getting ready for the holidays, there are a few guidelines that will help you get what you want done in a minimum amount of time and with a minimum amount of stress. You may find these guidelines are helpful for managing all aspects of your life in addition to your holiday planning.

“If you want to eat an elephant, take one bite at a time.”

So it is with holiday planning.

1. Everything needs a home – even your notes for planning the holidays. A three-ring binder dedicated to the task is very helpful and inexpensive.
2. Break down big tasks into smaller tasks.
3. Write things down. Write things down. Oh yes, and write things down.
-Use lists when you go shopping.
-Use your calendar to record all events and to schedule time to complete tasks.
-Every day write down the most important things you should accomplish during the day.
4. Think before you act. In other words, plan.
5. On the other hand, avoid “analysis paralysis.” If you think you are prone to over-analyzing then use your timer to limit your activity. Make it a game to get as much done before the bell rings.
6. Work on your tasks every day even it is only 15 to 20 minutes a day. This workbook is a valuable tool for your holiday preparations; however, it will not make the holiday “happen for you” without your participation.
7. Acknowledge your progress, and look ahead to what is up next. Enjoy imperfection.
8. Communicate! Involve your family.
9. Allow for a margin of error. This is crucial to the graceful recovery of plans gone awry. Keep between ten and twenty percent of your time and resources (hint: money) as undedicated. If something takes longer than expected or any unexpected expense crops up, you won’t have to worry.
10. If you start to feel overwhelmed, do a brain dump.
-Take a few minutes to write down everything on your mind.
-Next to each item on your list, write down what the next action should be to take care of it.
-Decide to decide. Either schedule the needed actions, delegate them, or disregard them. Yes, it is OK to decide NOT to do something as long as you are discarding an item that is not crucial to your plan’s success.

The most important tip is to remember why we celebrate the holidays: a time to reflect on our spiritual beliefs and celebrate our families and friends. May peace and joy be with you in your celebrations.