I think this is the case with a lot of people. The second week of December is when "crunch time" hits. People are in a hustle to get things done, everything piles up, and stress levels skyrocket to astronomical levels. I look for a lot of traffic and accidents on the Interstates as people hustle to get those loose ends tied up before gearing up for those holiday festivities, be it last minute meetings, a hustle to knock out the shopping, rushing to holiday parties, or making preparations or travel arrangements for family gatherings. No doubt, some will hold out until the last minute, hoping for a Christmas miracle that seems to elude them every year but for some reason they believe this will be the year it works (or they believe that Mayan Doomsday crap and think the world is gonna end before Christmas, so why bother?).
I'm right in there in the thick of it with you, folks, and I'm here today to share some tips I've learned from 37 years of Christmases to help you manage that load and get things done without anxiety attacks, pulling hair, or drinking an entire liquor store. This year instead of panicing, why don't you try:
1. Letting go of unnecessary things. Is there something in your life that you can put on hiatus until January? If so, put it on hold.I usually don't work on new writing projects during the month of December. It's just too frustrating to try to hammer writing time into my schedule when it's already packed with so many other things. I still do promotional things for my published works, but that's not as time consuming as writing, rewrites, edits, proofreads, etc. Are there any projects or volunteer activities that you can shelve for a month? It might be worth it to free up your schedule - and your mind.
2. Making plans, not excuses. I know some people who spend so much time making excuses for not doing what they're supposed to do that they could have just gotten it done in less time. What a waste. Stop procrastinating and rehearsing excuses for why things didn't get done. Take some time to sit down with your schedule, make a list of what needs to be done, and organize a schedule to do as much as you reasonably can. This is actually how I manage my "to do" list. It's amazing how quickly you can knock that list out if you commit to doing 2 things on it a day, and take advantage of open time that you find.
3. Taking occasional breaks. Don't jam pack your schedule. Have at least 30 minutes to an hour a day that's free for you to do what you please. You're going to burn out if you don't have some time each day to relax and recharge your batteries. Likewise, plan some activities you enjoy in there, even if they don't have anything to do with the holidays. Rick and I, for example, already have our tickets to see The Hobbit next Saturday. That's going to be our break from the work/home/family/friends/volunteer/whateverelseneedsourattention demands of life next weekend.
4. Getting enough sleep. A lot of people tout the benefits of getting up extra early or staying up late to get things done, when there are fewer distractions. I've found that this might be beneficial every once in a while, but as a regular part of life it's counterproductive. You aren't as effective if you're tired, and you get more done if you're well rested and energetic. Likewise, it's better for your health because skimping on sleep actually makes you more prone to catching illnesses (and plenty are going around). Go to bed on time every night and get up on time every morning. Keeping a steady daily schedule is the best thing you can do. I've found that I get much more accomplished during the day if I get my 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
5. Rewarding yourself for accomplishments. I know time and money are tight this time of year, but try to find ways to reward yourself for getting major things done every now and then. Buy yourself a little something when you finish the holiday shopping that you're sure nobody else will get you. Take a couple of hours off to read, engage in a hobby, play a game, or watch TV when you get the Christmas cards written. Take time out to surf online media or call a friend when you get the house cleaned. Take a break at work when you get a major thing wrapped up to take a short walk. Find small ways to reward youself for a job well done and you'll find yourself motivated to stay the course and cross the finish line to a great holiday.
Yes, it's crunch time folks, but that doesn't mean we have to be crushed under the weight of all that needs to be done. With some self-discipline and planning we'll make it. Because Christmas is coming on December 25 whether you're ready or not. The best way to be ready when it arrives is to prepare and work steadily toward the goals for that day ahead of time.
That's all today. Take care and I hope you have a great start to the new week.