Monday, December 13, 2010

Motivational Monday #29 - Getting It All Done (Or Not)

Every year about this time I realize the lists I make may just take over my life.  With halls to be decked and carols to be fa-la-la-la-la'ed, my time is spoken for from mid November until it all gets put away in January.  It is as if 2 months of my life have been consumed by a giant to-do list.

Just for the record, I want my life back.

Please don't misunderstand, I generally love lists.  They help me keep track of things and I am more efficient when I have a plan.  Unfortunately, during the holidays, lists become long scary monsters with oodles of items which repopulate themselves every time you mark something off.

If you take a quick look at my list you will find many silly items which could be put off for another time.  As an example, I finished two quilts for presents last week, then I promptly started another blanket.  I was thinking I might as well do it while the machine was out, but who am I kidding?  I was just avoiding the other things on my list!

Today I ran around to multiple stores to make sure I had all the odds and ends dealt with so I could relax next week. Once again, who am I kidding?  The odds and ends will never be complete...never.

Sometimes I think this season should be renamed "The Odds and Ends" season, as we are consistently stressing over the small details to make everything perfect.

So how do you get it all done if the to-do list is overwhelming and the odds and ends never go away?

Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Identify Priorities - For you it may be traditional activities, presents, the meal or maybe just a few days of relaxation.  For others it is the religious component or the symbolism.  Identify what is non negotiable for your season.
  2. Identify What You Will NOT Do - There are some traditions which are not worthy of repeating.  As an example, I will never again shop on Christmas Eve.  I will not stand in long lines to have a picture with Santa, and I will not have a big meal at noon.  Given those parameters, I know that I have to plan so those things don't happen.
  3. Identify "Down" Time - Your entire life can not be (and should not be) about the holidays.  Figure out when you will be a "normal" person and participate in activities you find relaxing and/or invigorating.  Too much time spent on the to-do list or in trying to deck the halls will leave you a very grumpy scrooge.
  4. Don't Overdo It - Every year millions of people spend more money than they have, over schedule themselves, and in the end become super stressed about the holidays. If you are miserable, you are not having a good time.  I know that sounds obvious, but so many of us torture ourselves in the name of being happy.  hmmm. Not a good idea.
So the answer to the question, "How do I get it all done?" is simply:  Don't.  Just don't.  Do what is important, what you have time to do, and what brings the most joy.  Ignore the stuff you hate, eliminate the traditions that make you cringe, and revise your list to include only that which is realistic. After all, 'Tis the Season to cut back...falalalala...lalalala!

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