Early November 2013
Looking for past Tips of the Week? Visit the Tip of the Week archive at organizedlife.blogspot.com.
Interested in business-focused organizing and productivity tips? Check out Citron.
Purging + Planning = Happier Holidays
Whether the sight of winter holiday gear in stores the day after Halloween made you groan and want to hide in a closet for the next two months or put a spring in your step, the fact is that those end-of-year holidays are speeding their way toward us. November and December can be among the most stressful and cluttered months of the year, which can detract from the merriment of the season, but they don't have to be. Here are four easy, realistic ways of making the holidays more organized and less stressful.
#1: Aim for Perfectly Imperfect Celebrations
Trying to replicate the holidays we see on TV and in magazines (which were created by crews of dozens in mid-summer) is the easiest way to hop on the fast track to Nutsville--unless you have a crew of dozens at your disposal, of course. Even trying to live up to less lofty standards--the Thanksgiving feast your parents or grandparents used to put on, say, or a neighbor's picture-perfect holiday decorations--makes it so much easier to drown in stress.
Now's the time to set realistic expectations for the celebrations ahead, on every possible front: meals, gifts, decorations, parties, cookie baking, what have you. After all, what good is a "perfect" holiday if you're too exhausted, broke, and frazzled to enjoy it?
#2: Have a Purge Fiesta in Some Key Spots
Trying to cram Thanksgiving leftovers into a fridge that's already full, or doing the company's-coming-so-let's-shove-a-bunch-of-stuff-into-wherever-it-fits thing, or dealing with not having enough space for whatever holiday essentials you need is a quick way to ramp up stress. Mid-November probably isn't the time to embark on a major organization project, but it is the time to do a quick and dirty round of sorting and weeding in a few major spots: your fridge and freezer, your coat closet, and your dining room and living room.
The goal here is not to reconsider everything you've got in each of these spots, but instead to clear out the obvious chaff (say, those winter coats your kids outgrew last year, or the half-dozen condiment jars in the fridge with a tablespoon left in each) to make room for what's coming in the weeks ahead (guests coats and the makings of and leftovers from any number of meals, feasts, and gatherings). Weed it quickly and then get it out of the house!
#3: Delegate Like Mad
Unless you love absolutely everything about holiday prep, from shopping to wrapping to cooking to cleanup to errands, it is so well worth enlisting others to help take some of the tasks off your list. Willing to pay? You can go the TaskRabbit route if you're in one of the areas they serve, find an assistant on Craigslist or through other classifieds, or hire someone you trust in your community, such as a neighbor who's a high school student looking to make some holiday cash. On the free front, you can trade tasks with friends, offering to take on tasks they don't love in exchange for them doing ones you're not fond of, or enlist family members to pitch in.
#4: Make Some General Plans and Stick to Them
Finally, one of the main reasons for going overboard stuff-, spending-, commitment-, and otherwise during the holidays is not having or not sticking with some basic plans. For example, who are you exchanging gifts with, and what's your budget for those gifts? What will you serve at holiday events you're hosting? Which events hosted by others will you attend, and which will you skip?
Taking the time to set some guidelines--and then referring back to those guidelines throughout the season--will make it less likely that you'll buy things on impulse, spend more than you'd planned, say "yes" to things you don't especially want to do, and generally feel overtaxed and overwhelmed.
Do you have other ways of staying happy and sane when holiday craziness heats up? Share them on The Organized Life's Facebook page, and see what your fellow Tip readers do to keep stress at bay this time of year.
Copyright © 2013 . All Rights Reserved.