We are heading into “the holiday season.” If you’re like me, I relate all too well to Charlie Brown fighting against rampant commercialism. I long for an old-fashioned and peaceful Christmas season filled will love and joy. With this in mind, my personal theme for this year is “A Peaceful Season.”
A common request I receive from readers is for advice on how to actually enjoy the holidays instead of feeling constantly stressed by all of the demands placed upon us. Today’s post is going to focus on getting real with all those demands so that we can be proactive rather than reactive.
Our Peaceful Season goal for this week is to create a holiday master calendar.
Holiday Calendar Supplies
You will need:
- A paper calendar showing the months of November and December with boxes big enough to write in. Although many of us rely upon digital planners, my friend, productivity guru Meggin McIntosh, told me one time that paper planners and calendars help us really see all of the expectations placed upon us. I know you’re thinking that you’ll just use your digital planner or the erasable calendar you have on the wall, but humor me this time around and go with paper. If you don’t have a paper calendar with nice write-in space, you can find tons of them on Pinterest. Heather over at Moritz Fine Designs has created a handy printable holiday organizing binder that I like. It is free but you do need to subscribe to her blog (which features printables each week) to have access to it.
- Different colored pencils for coding your responsibilities
- List of birthdays, anniversaries, and any other life events that you usually celebrate
- School, church, club, dance, etc. calendars. Also, the travel dates of family members who may be visiting during the holidays (whether they are staying with you or not).
- Shipping deadlines
Create a Holiday Calendar
All too often we hear that we shouldn’t put all of our eggs in one basket. Well, Meggin has a different egg metaphor that really hit home with me when I saw her demonstrate it once. As women, we try to put too many eggs into a carton designed for a dozen. Sure, the first 12 go in easily. There is a space for each one. But, we decide we’re going to try for “a baker’s dozen” and try to fit in one more. And then there are all of those other eggs that we try to cram into the carton. The result is that the eggs end up being a broken mess and of no use anymore (even though some of us will try to pick the shells out…just saying…).
To avoid feeling like broken eggs, we’re going to fill in our calendars, now, so that we know what demands are being placed on us. It will enable us to be proactive with our decision making if we have to make choices between two equally good events. The calendar will also enable us to turn down requests without feeling guilty instead of cramming one more thing into our schedules.
Using all of the different lists you’ve gathered, fill in your calendar with all of your responsibilities between now and January 2 or Epiphany on January 6, if you celebrate it. I suggest using a pencil so that you can easily make changes as you plan your holiday season. Having a holiday master calendar will enable you to start getting a better idea of all of the demands being placed upon you. Next, block out time for things like family time, personal time, shopping, baking, decorating, and things like that. Don’t forget to include logistical things like wrapping and shipping gifts and getting guest rooms ready.
Just looking at this list, it is easy to see how we end up feeling overwhelmed!
The Magic of Color Coding
My work calendar is color coded. Workshops I’m leading are shaded one color and consultations with faculty are shaded another. Meetings I’m leading are yet another color while meetings I’m attending are another. This enables me to quickly see what my schedule is like. For example, if I see that if I have a workshop coming up, I better block out time to prepare for it so that I don’t feel rushed, stressed, and worried about whether it is going to be worthwhile for the faculty attending it.
We’re going to do the same type of color coding strategy with our Peaceful Season holiday master calendar. Choose the categorizing method that works best for you but you here are some ideas for the different color codes:
- Family/personal time
- School events
- Church events (rehearsals one color and performances another color)
- Parties (children’s one color, adults another color, both adult and children a third color)
- Work related events
- Baking time
- Shopping time
- Logistical time (wrapping gifts, shipping gifts, decorating, etc.)
Shade each item with its appropriate category color to get a good idea what your schedule is like.
Time for Reflection
Okay, it is time to get real. What is your first reaction when you see your Peaceful Season holiday calendar? Does it feel “doable” and realistic? Or is it time to make some decisions about what needs to be scaled back or let go because you are trying to cram too many eggs into your carton?
I was speaking to a friend of mine yesterday about the holiday season. She was telling me that she decided to let go of something that had once been very enjoyable and became a tradition for her. But she realized that it really hasn’t been as enjoyable for some time and was starting to feel like an obligation. So she is letting it go this year. She said that some people were pretty upset with her because they’d come to expect her to participate. But she wanted her holiday season back and stayed true to her decision. She’s available to answer any questions they may have but otherwise she has freed up tons of time for other things she will now be able to do with her family.
Now that you have a Peaceful Season holiday calendar, you can use it to guide your decision-making when you receive requests or invitations. For example, if the Ladies’ Society asks you to bake cookies, you can either let them know when you will be doing cookie baking or you can swap out a cookie baking afternoon for another event on your calendar.
As you go forward, always keep Meggin’s eggs being placed into the carton metaphor. You want to enjoy the holidays. Not end up in a scrambled mess.
Share your thoughts in the comments section: Did you make a holiday calendar? What did you find out? What other scheduling tips do you have?
To your fabulous Technicolor holiday season,