This despite the fact that I was asked to address the topic to large groups of people twice last year: once at BYU’s Women’s Conference and once before my congregation.
That I would be assigned topics related to managing time by two different spiritual leaders six months apart was a sign to me that there was a lesson I needed to learn well enough to teach it.
But I didn’t.
You know you’re not managing your time well when you are running at breakfast, when you are multi-tasking three things instead of just two, when you’re thinking of the next thing you need to do while you’re doing the first thing, when you aren’t done with everything you want to do at the end of the day, when you never had time in your day to read a book.
And then come the holidays.
Holidays are good for many reasons. They’re good because they come just when you finally admit to yourself that the days really are getting shorter and the weather really is getting colder and summer really is over.
The dressing up for Halloween and cooking for Thanksgiving and shopping for Christmas are all perfectly timed to transition from outside to inside, from warm to cold, from light to dark.
But here’s the catch: Holiday preparations take time. Time you already don’t have.
I can’t tell you to cut back or cut out or give up. That would be hypocrisy. I can’t tell you to simplify. There are just things that need to be done and others that you just simply want to do.
My advice is as much for your peace of mind as for your calendar. It is, simply, to break it down (as opposed to break down).
We can’t have rolling through our minds all the time all the things we need to accomplish. For women, the entire picture in December would be something like: decorate, bake, shop, wrap, write, send, shop, cook, help, lead, visit, make, prepare, shop, plan, wrap, and shop.
Such a list cycling through our minds all the time every day takes away from the fun and turns it into the frantic.
A more mind-friendly system would be to break the tasks that aren’t continuous down to various weeks: Week one: decorate, shop. Week two: write and send, visit. Week three: wrap, plan. Week four: bake, cook.
The advantage is that in week one you don’t have to feel guilty because you haven’t written any cards yet because you know you’re saving that for week two.
And if you wrap something before week three, you’re on top of the world, ahead of the game, with everything in total control.
This works with any big project, turning an “I can’t even think about the family album because it will take hours,” to “I’m just going to put in January pictures this week.” Or an “I’ll never get on top of the laundry” to a “The laundry I wanted to do today is done.”
This is my very best gift I can give to you this holiday season. Divide it up, schedule it out, then bend and stretch with it at will.
Because I don’t want to hear any complaints from anyone including myself, about how much there is to do. Instead, I want to hear how much fun we’re having and how much we love the holidays and how much we enjoy spending time with our families and maybe even how many books we’re reading.
Just kidding about the books.
Save them for January.