Friday, October 10, 2008

31 Things to do before Christmas - First things first

(This is #1 of 31 in the 31 Things to do series)

"Begin with the end in Mind"

In Stephen Covey’s legendary The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the second habit is “Begin with the End in Mind”. In at nutshell this habit when practiced will guide you to plan and visualize what you want the end result to be in order to accomplish tasks that are meaningful to your values and goals. Without a plan, you are planning to fail. If you don’t have a target, how will you know if you hit it?

Just as you should apply this principle to every area of your life that you want to be successful in, in this series we will be discussing how we can apply it to the holiday season we hope to have this year.

The winter holiday season is but a few days, but for most people these are some of the most memorable, most anticipated times of the year. We look forward to the moments we will spend with family and friends, some of them we don’t see at any other time of the year. We anticipate the goodwill and kindness that Christmas always seems to bring out in our society. But too often a lack of planning causes us to spend the entire season rushing and stressing, not taking the time to really reflect and enjoy what the season is really about.

What is the common phrase around the holidays? “I’ll be so glad when it’s over!” People, that’s sad!! It’s time for a change!

So how does it get to such a point of frustration anyway? Well it gets to that point because we allow it to.

Part of the problem is that we allow society, media, and other forces to pressure us into doing things we either can’t reasonably afford to do, or don’t really want to do but feel obligated to do.
So what’s the answer? Have a plan before the holiday season even gets here. When you have a plan, you already have direction, so you don’t need someone else making up your mind for you, thank you very much.

So what should your plan consist of? Keeping the end (which is how you want your holiday season to play out) in mind, you should consider:

  1. Where will you be spending the holidays? Will you be at home, travelling, visiting relatives?

  2. If you will be spending the holidays at home, will you be having guests over?

  3. What is your holiday budget? This is probably the biggest factor and where most people really miss the boat on the planning aspect.

Spend some time thinking about these things now. Don’t wait until a week before Christmas to decide where you will be going or who will be coming over, or how much you will spend. By then it’s already too late to avoid the stress. Get these decisions out of the way now, and once the decisions are made, things will fall into place easier because you already have a plan and set limits. Then you can just focus on working within those limits.

Get organized

One of the best things you can do to not make it a stressful situation is to get organized. Now, wait a minute before you tune me out, it doesn’t have to be hard. Trust me, I like things simple, if it’s not simple I won’t do it so I am not suggesting anything complicated here. Really all you need is a notebook (spiral or binder) and a large manila envelope. Label them both “Christmas”, “Holiday”, “Peace”, “Sanity”, whatever you wish just as long as you have one. Use the manila envelope to store all of your receipts from your holiday purchases. Use the tablet to make your gift lists, to-do lists, jot down notes, sizes, etc. You can even use a spreadsheet to automatically total and keep track of your expenses, holepunch it and place it in your binder. Whatever you choose, the main point is that having a centralized location to keep all of your notes and important information about what you need to do will prove invaluable. When you have tidbits of information here, there and everywhere it’s messy and it wastes time and even money. And we don’t want that, we are trying to use our limited time and money wisely.

Here is a neat site full of ideas and tips on organizing for the holiday:

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