13 Time-saving Tips to Help You Keep the Holiday Spirit
If you’re like me, you don’t schedule a moment’s rest for the last three weeks of the year. You get up earlier than usual and after your day job and caregiving, you still have plenty to do. You prepare for get-togethers, sign and mail holiday cards, spend extra time shopping, take care of many little tasks that no one thinks of until the last minute, and the list goes on. Keeping the holiday spirit can be quite difficult if you don’t find ways to cut back so that you still have some time for yourself.
Years of practicing the art of trying to make everything perfect for all who visited came to a halt when I started caring for a loved one. At first, I tried to keep up with tradition and a desire to be of service to everyone – but one by one my little “acts of kindness” fell by the wayside. They had to. Even when I was in the casual stage of caregiving, I found that I wasn’t as productive at work and I would be late fulfilling commitments I’d made to others. Things had to change and the process had to start with me. When I got my “mental stuff” under control and practiced a few good time-management skills, the holidays were happy again.
So, if you’re a little uptight and anxious right now because of the holiday time crunch, you might want to rethink your priorities like I had to do and try some of these tips.
Determine what level you consider acceptable and stop there.
Some people are creative and like making whatever they do a little extra special. Avoid the temptation and stick with the basics. Unless it’s something you enjoy doing in your free time, the amount of value you’ll add to your project probably won’t be worth the additional time you’ll be spending on it.
Don’t over decorate or overclean.
Do you really need 1000 outside lights? Would 500 do?
You’ve trimmed two trees in the past; wouldn’t one be sufficient this year?
Can you limit decorations to only the rooms people will gather in?
Spend extra cleaning time only where it will be noticed.
Edit To-do lists.
Take a break after writing out your list of things to get done and then go back and cross off all but the most important. Consider them only after the big ones are out of the way.
Watch out for distractions.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” While he was talking about monetary expenses, the same holds true for expending your time and energy. We often don’t recognize something as a distraction until we’ve been involved with it for a while. Once spent, time and energy are gone forever.
Say “no” to unnecessary social engagements.
Office workers love to go out for “a holiday drink” after work just before Christmas. You should only accept invitations to events that are important to you. Spending time with people you’re around every day instead of taking care of your To-do list business might not leave you feeling very good about yourself.
Eat more leftovers.
When you cook a meal, make more than you’ll eat in one sitting and store the rest for times when you’re in a hurry.
Nothing is a bigger waste of time than having to break away from your current task to take care of something you forgot about earlier. The most efficient way is to write a list (groceries, gifts, chores, etc.), do them as a group and be done.
Avoid all-day shopping trips.
In the first place, it’s too tiring. Better to keep your lists with you and stop at one or two stores at a time when it’s convenient.
Shop online where possible.
It’s faster and usually cheaper.
Estimate times to complete tasks and stick to them.
When you have a group of things that need to be done, think about the amount of time it will take to do each one or a couple of them at a time. Consider how much time you’re willing to spend on them and then treat each as a deadline. When time is up, you stop. Prioritizing is crucial.
Determine when you must be done with each project and set preceding milestones to be accomplished. Budget your daily time accordingly.
Shortcut wherever possible.
Use mailing labels.
Buy pre-made cookies, fruit and cheese platters, etc.
Don’t get hung up on a chore you don’t like; pay someone else to do it.
Consider hiring a professional caregiver for a few hours a day until the celebrations and clean-up are over. You will be amazed at how much it opens your schedule and how much more relaxed you’ll be.