So here we are, speeding full tilt into “the most wonderful time of the year.” But let’s face it: Holiday overload — shopping, baking, partying — can make it hard to focus at work. Which leads to you being unproductive. Which leads to stress. Which leads to the holidays seeming not so wonderful after all.
Fortunately, you can stop the madness before it begins. With budgets!
Budget your work. Identify the “must do’s” and make them the center of your schedule. Stick to that schedule. Look for ways to speed up or consolidate tasks. When and where possible, delegate. Ask your employer if you can switch to a more flexible workday (earlier or later hours than usual, telecommuting, etc.).
Budget your time. It’s too late to, say, finish all your shopping in July. But you can still build yourself a buffer by getting ahead of your workload. Do tomorrow’s jobs today, move up your deadlines and break big projects into small tasks that you can power through during work “lulls.” On the home front, stockpile food or gifts you intend to serve or take to events, and prepack the items you need for trips.
Budget your money. A huge source of holiday stress is the sense that our spending is spinning out of control. You’ll feel much calmer if you set limits on exactly how much you’re going to pay for all that holiday cheer.
Budget your energy. Set a firm bedtime. Keep up an active exercise schedule, preferably outdoors. Carve out free hours to read a book or watch a favorite holiday movie. As much as you can, stay off your phone. Most of all, don’t let the stress win. Often we create our own realities by overly worrying about how much we have to do. What we focus on, grows. So focus on love, good cheer, gratitude and joy.
Finally, if particular holiday activities stress you out (baking dozens of cookies, hosting a huge family party, searching for — and paying for — that one amazing gift), try this simple tip: Don’t do those activities. Buy the cookies. Ask someone else to host. Consider that by January your “perfect” gift may well be forgotten and that gift cards are appreciated by all. Concentrate instead on what you enjoy doing and do it well.