December is upon us and as we all know it can be one of the busiest most stressful months of the year. Here in NZ it can be all the more complicated as we combine it with our summer holiday period and often the end of the working year – so lots to do! Here are a few tips to help things run smoothly so take a couple of minutes to read through.
Step 1. Have a planning meeting with yourself:First thing to do is to sit down with yourself and a piece of paper and write down all those things going round in your head that you keep remembering you are supposed to do but forget because another thing-to-do has taken its place. What do you need to do this month? Just write it all down – doesn’t have to be in order. You can use headings if you like. Here are some that might be on your list.Christmas – Presents – Who?
Christmas – Cards – thankyou gifts etc – Who?
Christmas Dinner Menu – Guests
Christmas Hospitaltiy – who’s coming – beds etc.
End of school year – prizegivings, gift for teachers etc
End of work year etc
Step 2. Eliminate or delegate.Take a look at your list and work out what you actually need to do, what you can delegate to others and what you can actually eliminate without hurting others. Delegating who brings what for Christmas dinner for example –but you will need to make sure everyone is clear in what is expected of them. Don’t assume Aunty is going to bring the pudding if you haven’t asked her. You don’t have to go to every party or event if that is too much for you – choose which one. The early you can get in with your requests or apologies the better.
Step3. Put a time frame around it. Put actual dates into your calendar/phone/diary and work backwards from that date. For each event action or activity write down everything you need to do in order to make it on the date scheduled. This will become your plan of action and schedule this action into your diary and then follow the plan. Look for gaps where you can do the preperation work or make a phone call. What can I do now? Can I make things and put in the freezer? Do I need to organise a baby sitter for 3 weeks time? When do I need to post this parcel to Australia? Do I need to let my boss know I need to leave work early to make it to prize-giving on time? (Do I need to let my husband know weeks in advance so he can organise his life as well?) Pre-think, pre- plan and be pre-pared.
Step 4; Put a budget around your plan. Self expanatory –don’t get carried away but decide well before hand what you can spend. This is a whole big topic but in a nutshell – make stuff and if you buy gifts – buy local where you can and support our wonderful crafts, artisans and talented business women.
Step 5: Get your systems sorted. It’s often the small things that are stressful – not being able to find things such as addresses for cards, phone numbers, Christmas decorations or cookie cutters from last year. Make that the next thing you do. Collect together what you need to make those jobs run smoothly. Gift wrapping – make up a box full of gift wrapping tools. There are some good systems out there but get scissors, sellotape, paper, ribbon, bows – everything you think you will need all ready and together now.
Step 6. Learn from this year. And if your goal for next year is to be more organised and less stressed – then turn each of these exercises into a system that you can follow for next time.