Handling Time Management During The Holidays: Top 9 Tips

The holidays are some of the happiest times of the year. Many people love celebrating the big holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it’s a time to be cheerful and happy. However, it can be stressful and hectic for some people (when time gets out of control). Although a lot can happen throughout the holidays, it doesn’t have to be that way. Time management during the holidays takes some work, but it can be accomplished.

Why take ownership of your time over the holidays?

Oftentimes, many people feel stressed out and anxious during the holidays. People get invitations for holiday events and parties, which may reduce time on other things.

In a short period of time, people feel pressured to act quickly. Too often, people are rushing while not enjoying themselves with their loved ones. More so, they’ll end up doing important things at the very last minute.

For the remainder of this post, I will lay out nine helpful tips to manage your time better throughout the holidays.

Plan very early on

Although it may feel unnecessary to plan ahead for the holidays, it’ll help you out a lot. Believe me, I’ve tried it myself and it helped me prepare for inevitable distractions and the unexpected to occur.

How soon should you start planning? I would say start as early as Halloween, or early November at the latest. Once November rolls around, then it’s time to focus before any distractions come up.

Basically, the year is over once you get to the week of Thanksgiving. I think one reason is business activities lighten down between the week of Thanksgiving until New Year’s day. Once Thanksgiving is a few days away, people are focusing on holiday activities until the New Year.

  • Best Tip: To plan accordingly, make use of a calendar to help plan out the last two months of the year. Looking at a glance helps you see what needs to get done before the big holidays take place. My go-to calendar these days is Google Calendar.
Time management during the holidays: Planning early on (6-8 weeks ahead) can be very helpful before things get out of control.

Prioritize your most important tasks (MIT)

Prioritization is key to getting things done effectively. I practice it on a daily basis when it comes to my three-five important tasks to do.

Not only do it on a daily basis, but also do it on a weekly standard. When planning for the holidays, mapping out the last six-eight weeks becomes easier once Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around. 

You can do it six-eight weeks ahead of time. Or, do it at the beginning of each week if that’s easier for you to do.

What I do for effective planning

As always, I plan out my weeks so I know what to expect for the next five-seven days. My practices include the following:

  • {Weekly basis}- What are the top three things I need to focus on this week?
  • {On a daily basis}- What are three-five tasks I need to get done today? 

Below are screenshots of some lists I write out when it comes to daily and weekly planning. These to-do lists can be very helpful when I need to know what to do ahead of time.

Time management during the holidays: Planning out your schedule a week ahead of time helps a lot during the holidays.
Weekly Planning List
Time management during the holidays: Planning out your schedule a week ahead of time helps a lot during the holidays.
Daily Planning List

Do focus work during your peak time

Working during your peak time will bring out the best outcome and results. By understanding what time of the day you work best, you’ll be more focused and energized to tackle the challenging work.

For example, do you work better during the morning hours? Or are you a night owl?

Whatever the case is- say if you’re a morning person, utilize the morning hours to get your most important tasks out of the way.

In my experience: If you do it at a time when you’re tired or get easily distracted, you’ll likely fall behind.

It’s why I like using the late-morning-mid afternoon hours (i.e. 10AM-3PM) to set aside time for deep work. That’s when I feel my best and most active, while encountering fewer distractions during that time period.

Set time to get offline

It helps a lot to unplug from email and social media to take care of other things offline. So when you need to focus, do the following things:

  1. Do NOT log into social media accounts (personal or business)- No random scrolling for a few minutes-, as that can easily turn into an hour of scroll time.
  2. Turn off ALL notifications (i.e. email)- No email alerts, or no app notifications going off on your computer or cell phone.
  3. Do not play any online games (i.e. Solitaire) – That can be an easy distraction to avoid, so stay away from them.

Especially during the holidays, it’s crucial that you minimize your time online. If you use social media for business purposes, do your best to use it at the very minimum.

Time management during the holidays: Spending some time offline during the holidays is a nice break from being distracted by social media.

Utilize slow times to get more things done

There will be times when things are going to feel slow. Not that it’s bad in any way, as slow times can open up time to do other things that matter the most.

While those slow times take place, utilize that to focus on priorities. For instance, if it’s slower in the middle of the week (or at the end), use the one or two days in-between to set aside time to devote to those particular tasks.

For me, I find that the middle of the week can be slow throughout the year. But especially during the holidays, that seems to be the case as I look to work on things when it slows on a Wednesday. So I find that helps a lot.

Set preliminary deadlines one week prior to the holidays

If you have projects that need to get done before the holidays, aim to get them done one week prior to. Doing it one week (before Thanksgiving or Christmas) can help relieve the hecticness that can take place a few days before.

If you set deadlines for the week before, it won’t be as intense or feeling rushed right beforehand. Why not get ahead of the game and enjoy yourself a little bit? 

It’s not a good feeling to work on big projects the day before a big holiday, especially when it comes to celebrating with your family and friends.

Learn when to say “no”

Saying “No” is not easy at times; however, we need to know when it’s the right time to do so.

If you say “Yes” too often, you’ll take a lot of time away from the things you need to get done. Whether that’s a work project or spending time with family, saying “No” to those things can be rough if you don’t know what’s more important to you.

Setting boundaries and learning to say “No” is a good skill to have. You’ll have more time for the important things if you say “no” more often (especially during the holidays).

Time management during the holidays: Learning to say “no” is a skill to practice, and it allows you to spend more time on things that matter the most.

Take breaks

When the holiday season takes place, it’s hard for some people to take meaningful breaks in-between work and personal responsibilities. The idea that you cannot take a break on busy days or feel rushed does not help at all.

No matter what, taking breaks helps a bunch. If you take regular breaks, you’ll feel more focused and refreshed rather than doing one or two tasks for three-four hours straight.

There’s no exception when the holidays are around the corner. Not taking breaks won’t help at all, and you may feel more stressed out by working longer without them.

So make sure to take breaks when needed. I cannot tell how much they help- if they’re short 5-10 minute breaks, that’ll help you stay focused in the long run.

  • Best Tip: Take 10-15 minute breaks in-between to give yourself small boosts for your mind. It will help keep your mind in shape and refreshed.

Schedule downtime in-between schedule

The last point I’ll make is your downtime. Make sure to schedule some time aside for personal activities.

Some people are too focused on getting stuff done at work. Or on the other hand, it can be personal things such as Christmas shopping. 

If that’s spending time with your family, or going out shopping at the mall, set some time to do those things. Maybe shopping should not be your primary goal, but look at it as a secondary task during the holidays.

Going back to the first point made (planning early), use your planning time to block out personal things in your schedule. Certainly you’ll have some open time in-between to shop or be with your family. So make that a priority when it comes to planning early.

Time management during the holidays: This post gives a rundown on some of the best tips to manage time during the holidays.

Final Words

For some, the holidays can be the happiest time of the year; however, for others, it’s not so merry and bright. When you have a lot of things to do, it can get busy and very hectic.

Hopefully, the points that were made early on can help manage your time better. I think they’re very practical, and applicable if you take the right steps forward. 

The holiday season is meant to be a happy and cheerful time around the world. When it comes to time management, don’t let time slip away doing things that make you unhappy. Instead, make the most of your time so you can create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.

Your Turn: How do you deal with time management during the holidays?

I would like to get your thoughts on this topic, especially on the holidays. Do you struggle managing time when Thanksgiving or Christmas is around the corner?

Do you wish you could do a better job getting things done at the end of the year? If you’ve been successful, what have you done to master your time? Which of the tips have you tried, or are there ones you’re willing to give a try?

Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.

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Eric is the owner and chief editor of notimekillers.com. 

He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. 

Eric is a firm believer in financial and time freedom, as he believes in financial independence and taking ownership of your time. 

“Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” 

In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. 

You can also connect with Eric via LinkedIn.

Self Photo 2019: Here's a picture at a building in downtown Chicago.

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