Planning out goals for the New Year can be both exciting and overwhelming. There are SO many opportunities, the world is our oyster. So we often start strong, ambitious; thinking this is the year we’re going to do all of the things.
But then reality sets in and we realize maybe we can’t do everything, but if we can’t do everything can we do some of the things? Anything? Or do we get stuck in the overwhelm?
How to utilize seasonal planning
I’d like to suggest a better way of planning out our goals. It’s what I call quarterly or “seasonal” planning. One of the greatest changes in my life has come from shifting my perspective from chasing “balance” in my life to embracing seasons.
I’ve learned that I don’t really believe in “balance” when it comes to time management. I think it’s a good thing in theory but balance implies some kind of equal distribution of time, energy and resources. And in reality, that’s just not possible. We don’t divide our 24 hours into equal parts where all of our roles get the exact amount of our time, energy, and attention. That would be balance.
Really our lives are made up of rhythms and consist of seasons.
By seasons I mean seasons of life sure, but also annual seasons; winter, spring, summer fall.
Every season brings with it opportunities and limitations and when we work within a seasonal framework we are better able to maximize our time.
I would guess that your calendar also moves with the seasons whether you are intentional about planning projects and goals around them or not.
If I break my calendar into four quarters, that gives me four unique opportunities to work on goals and projects. When I plug in opportunities and limitations based on seasons I have a better idea of how to maximize my year.
Let me give you a few personal examples based on some of my own seasonal opportunities and limitations.\
Opportunity– our school year is wrapping up so I have more time to focus on work projects.
Limitation– my youngest plays baseball so on Monday and Friday afternoons I have to plan on getting him to practice, but I also have a window of time to run errands or read a book while waiting for him. I know this commitment will be over before the summer begins so I can plan accordingly.
Opportunity– kids are out of school and we usually plan a vacation during this time. There is ample opportunity for play and rest. It’s also a great time to tackle larger home projects.
Limitation– because the kids are home I have to get creative about keeping them entertained while I work so I often use this time to plan and grow by taking a class or attending a conference rather than take on new work projects.
These are just some very simple examples but you can see how taking into account our family’s seasonal responsibilities can affect how much I decide to add to my schedule.
Perhaps you have your own seasonal opportunities and limitations. They may include:
• work deadlines
• family celebrations, holidays, birthdays
• health limitations (think seasonal allergies)
• seasonal church or ministry responsibilities
• conferences or classes
• back to school and end of school year events and responsibilities
One Small Win: Spring is just around the corner and it might be a great time to consider your own rhythms and seasons and the role they might play in how you plan out the rest of your year.
DOWNLOAD: Click here to download a quarterly planner.
Zohary Ross is a life coach, speaker and author of the Aligned Parenting Workbook. Zohary is passionate about encouraging and equipping women to have clearly defined “most importants” and live out their values and priorities. Connect with Zohary at http://zoharyross.com/.
If you don’t plan your time, someone else will. During the holidays it is especially important to schedule your time in advance so you have the time to do the things that are truly important to you.
Schedule your time for the holidays
For example, I schedule downtime. Life gets very stressful over the holidays, and I schedule time just to relax and wrap gifts with music playing or to kick back and read a book. The time leading up to Christmas shouldn’t be so rushed and stressful that you are totally exhausted and can’t enjoy the holiday. I schedule mini-breaks or downtime throughout the season. This is especially important if you have small children and their schedules are being disrupted.
The downtime is every bit as important as the parties and other social activities during the holiday season. I review calendars and make sure we find time to attend church, candlelight services, and other events that matter to us, I schedule downtime, and then everything else is worked into the time that left or we choose not to do it.
Go back to your Christmas mission statement and make sure everything you schedule fits into your mission. If it doesn’t, you can skip it this year. There’s always next year!
Do what gives you joy and don’t feel guilty for saying NO to everything else.
Assignment: Schedule Your Time for the Holidays
Gather all your calendars and spend fifteen minutes scheduling your commitments (personal, family, church, school, etc.). Now it is time to schedule in some fun! You may want to ask your family what they would like to do this year. Consider dropping things that no longer bring you or your family joy. You may also want to set aside some special time for just you and your spouse.
Once you complete your calendar, be sure to hang it where everyone has access to it.
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 44
1) A blank calendar for November and December (or download printable blank calendars for November and December here.)
2) School, church, work and personal calendars.
Share Your Thoughts:
How does it feel to schedule your time out in advance during the holidays? Did you eliminate some activities? What activities will you keep no matter what? When you think about the holiday season do you feel overwhelmed, relaxed, confident or frustrated?
Putting items on a to-do list tells you what’s important. Putting them on the calendar tells you what’s possible. Add your activities straight to your calendar so you see where you need to cut back.
Prep your Christmas cards
When was the last time you got to December 10th and took a deep sigh of relief that your cards were completely done and mailed?? Umm, I have to answer that one honestly and say never. But I can also honestly say that when they are done early, my stress level goes way down. That is why, I prep Christmas cards in stages.
- Go through the list of things necessary to prep your Christmas cards. Maybe you need to buy paper for your annual letter or get pictures taken. Jot down all of the steps
- Start working through the list and possibly enlist the help of others. Maybe your spouse orders the stamps and prints addresses for you. Maybe your second grader puts the stamps on.
- Make an assembly line while watching a movie to make it more fun. If it is too overwhelming to get done all at once, take time today to decide on one thing to accomplish each day this week. Mark each day on your calendar. By the end of the week, you will be ready to mail off your cards!
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 39-42
Share Your Thoughts:
Have you broken down all of the steps before for getting your Christmas cards ready? Even though it is many steps, much of it can be tackled over time and with help! Do you elicit the help of others? What do you job out to save time, stress or possibly a paper cut on your lip? Come share with us what YOU do in the comments below.
This is a great example of habit pairing — linking a chore with a reward. Think of other habits you can pair throughout the holiday season. Remember — habit pairing = duty + delight.
If you’re not sending a Christmas card this year, or you’re sending a card sans family photo, you get to sit this project out. For the rest of us, it’s time to sit down and choose a photo or choose a date to take or pick your Christmas card picture. Enjoy this project by inviting your family to help select the photo this year.
Maybe enjoy some Christmas cookies and cocoa as you look back on the memories you made together over the year. If you still need to take family pictures, make a day of it! Plan on taking your photos together then going to the movies, out to eat, or grabbing your favorite hot beverage and shopping to fill your Operation Christmas Child boxes.
Assignment: Pick your Christmas picture or set a date to take a family picture.
The earlier you get the picture taken, the better. It’s November so photographers are offering holiday specials and booking sessions quickly. Get your favorite photographer on the phone and get this scheduled.
Make your appointment at a time when your family is at its best. If you are all night owls, don’t plan an early morning appointment. Also make sure no one is hungry when you go for the picture.
Outfits don’t have to match perfectly, but they should coordinate and not clash! Clothes should be comfortable. If uncomfortable, think of the forced smiles!
On a budget?
Digital cards save you time and money and allow you to send a card to any number of friends and family. In addition you don’t have to spend a ton of money on a professional photographer because your pictures don’t have to be as high quality to really look great.
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 32
Supplies: Cards, Picture, Printer paper if you do a letter, stamps, envelopes, address, and return address labels.
Share Your Thoughts:
Will you be sending cards this year? Will your cards include a family picture? Is it a Christmas picture or one taken throughout the year? What made you pick that picture? Do you send paper cards or digital cards? Any tips for others who plan to get a family picture taken or use pictures in cards?
Are you thinking, “We always have a professional photographer trek to the mountains with us in the snowfall to capture us singing carols as we cut down our 12-foot tree, but this year there won’t be snow!” Well, first of all, boohoo. But remember – just because you’ve always done things a certain way, doesn’t mean you’re out of options. You can choose to make new decisions this year!
Assignment: Create a Christmas binder with tabs
The Christmas binder is going to be your friend for the next few weeks. You know–the kind of friend you count on to help you keep your sanity. Your friend should reflect you, but more importantly, the vision you have for your family Christmas! Yesterday you made a list of what is important to you for the holidays. What it would look like for you if you started fresh this year.
Use your mission statement and go from there. But don’t forget this is supposed to be quick and easy!
Supplies: a three-ring binder, tabs, (optional) colored pens, plain paper to decorate a cover sleeve to slide in the clear pocket.
Maybe you have an old binder lying around that contains your child’s old science fair project. Maybe you were on a committee for church a few years back and you can recycle one for a new purpose! Maybe you will take out a blank sheet of paper and decorate it and then slide it into the clear sleeve of the front cover of the binder. Maybe you make a fun label for the outside. Whatever you end up creating, make it SIMPLE.
Next, get some dividers for the different categories. Get one for Cards, Recipes, Budget and Receipts, etc. Next place them in the order that makes sense to you. Keep a copy of the mission statement in the front. This is to remind yourself of your core values and what matters most to your family.
Then set a reminder on your phone or an appointment on your calendar to do a binder check weekly. This check will ensure you are USING it after you took the time to create it! It is so important for you to not get overwhelmed.
Use this time to store away any needed items to keep yourself organized. Put that receipt in the receipt section now because when you are in a hurry later, it won’t happen. Doing a simple task now will keep you from feeling crazed later!
Share Your Thoughts:
Where did you get your binder? Is it newly repurposed? What tabs did you put inside? Did you list out your Mission Statement and enclose it?
When we can’t find the things we know we have, it can make us feel stupid or ashamed. Our Christmas binder and Christmas Headquarters will keep everything we need for the holidays in one place. Remember–creativity is on the other side of clutter. And so is peace.