December. What more can I say? We are all rushing towards 25 December with excitement and some trepidation.
I do not want to keep you long because there is just too much to do. You might be a Mum with so much to plan or maybe you are off for a Christmas break. I want to give you a gift that might be useful and help you use that precious time well.
Like that time before the annual holiday, this is the time of year for lists or even lists of lists! We are desperate to be organised and use every second. We are running late before we even start! Sometimes those very lists terrorise us.
Let’s introduce some reality that might save your nerves being frayed.
I think there are only three useful lists:
- Stuff that must be completed before the Christmas shut down.
- The tasks you need to do to ensure a wonderful Christmas for you and yours.
- The Back to Work list.
Let me explain.
List 1 – Stuff that must be completed before Christmas
This is shorter than you think.
In general we shove everything on to the list ignoring whether it must be done before we finish work or not. We have the vain hope that we will have time to clear the decks before we adjourn to the kitchen. It will not happen – it never has, and it never will!
Be completely realistic. Accept that there are a million things that will get between you and doing all these good things. You will be infected by the general jollity and it will be impossible to be productive; going to your children’s Christmas shows and watching their performances is the most important thing you can do now. These opportunities will never come again – make the most of them.
So only list the things that really matter e.g. invoicing!
List 3 – the Back to Work list
Yes I know January can be bleak but let’s be honest. Nowadays the UK shuts down longer and longer for the Christmas season (unless you are in retail and flogging yourself to death to make as many sales as you can). The rest of us will probably finish work on Friday 22 December, and you may not return to work until Tuesday 2 January, or even any time up to the following Monday, 8 January.
Let’s stick with being honest. If it is the first week after the new year you will be contending with other people’s absence – those who are not back – and it will make you furious, resentful/frustrated. If you return on 8 January, you will have so much time off that your first week back will be in second gear – trading all those holiday stories with people you talk to. It will be time at the desk rather than quality work.
So I suggest you do it differently.
Make a list of the jobs that you want to do in this twilight time before you go away. Capture them so they will not get lost. Look at them as tasks you can do when things are quiet, time when you can think, and you will not be interrupted.
You will not be in top gear – recognise it. See these jobs as a way back in slowly.
However, the glorious gift of this is that you will be relaxed so you will be more creative, more playful and your results will be more exciting than any devised under stress.
I promise you that this way:
- You will not reach Christmas stressed.
- You will accomplish things whilst you are getting back into full swing.
- You will not beat yourself up for sloth.
So this year why not try something different? Make it a gift to yourself!
What happened to List 2 you ask – the tasks you need to do to ensure a wonderful Christmas for you and yours. Well, I cannot help with that, only you know what you want to achieve. However, I give some useful pieces of advice passed to me from an aunt:
- It is one day and it does not have to be perfect.
- The greatest gift for anyone is that you give them time.
- We love each other so there is bound to be at least one bust up, be glad once its over! We can all relax then.
Does any of this help? None of it is original but just thinking about it might give you a happier time and lots of good memories.
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Life is good; let’s live it to the full, enjoy it and be the best we can be.
Elizabeth Toogood – Your Critical Friend