It’s about that time again! The month of October reminds us that it’s time to start thinking about what the rest of the year is going to look like. Forget Halloween, many stores have even bypassed Thanksgiving and have headed straight to Christmas! Decorations are on sale, kitschy service items that you’ll likely only use once are already gracing the windows, shelves, and online home-page sliders of your regular retailers. For some of us, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. For others, it’s quite the opposite. Between travel plans, family obligations, work obligations, holiday parties, reunions and the never ending pressure of getting everything as perfect as possible… it’s a lot to deal with.
What can you do? Everyone has an answer… try not to stress (yeah, right), take a deep breath (where? how?), set aside some time for yourself (where are these magic minutes that they speak of?). The truth is that, general and anecdotal evidence doesn’t always apply, and it can be frustrating to wade through an ocean of catchy captions and zen quotes in the search for actual serenity.
THE PROBLEM: WHAT HAPPENED TO TIME?
Time can often feel like it’s getting away from us, especially during this time of year. You blink and 12 hours have passed, and then it’s time to pass out in an exhausted heap only to awaken bleary-eyed and attempt to do it all over again. Time feels compressed when there’s so much to do and no real plan of attack on how to do it. In an age where we can order things with the touch of a phone screen and organize our thoughts and tasks in nearly effortless fashion, it can seem more difficult than ever to truly get our ducks in a row.
THE SOLUTION: STOP, TAKE STOCK AND WRITE IT DOWN
Think you don’t have time to stop? Think again. The more responsibilities you pile on yourself, the less likely you are to get any of them done in any efficient fashion UNLESS YOU TAKE STOCK. What’s happening today? Right now? What has to be addressed FIRST? Battling rush hour traffic to grab that limited edition set of holiday napkins that suddenly (not really) went on sale is a lot less important than taking care of immediate needs like properly hydrating, caring for yourself, and caring for those around you. Yes, it is easier said than done. But it is possible. Stop, take stock, make a list (either on your phone or on paper), and stick to your list. It’ll save you time (and money) in the short and long term.
GENERAL: tasks that are not time specific (wants versus needs)
MONTHLY: tasks that are time sensitive for the month (things needed for travel plans, visiting relatives/friends, ect.)
WEEKLY: tasks that need to be completed by the end of the week (space them in order of importance and dedicate a day each week to address one or two things)
DAILY: tasks that need to be completed by the end of the day (space them in order of importance, and be honest and comfortable with letting the least important things go)
This might seem like one of the most common sense things ever, and that’s because it is. It’s not rocket science. You have 24 hours. While each of us has any number of obligations based on the current shape of our lives, the truth is that we all have the same 24 hours. We don’t all use those hours the same… nor should we. Each of us takes the time that we need to do what needs to be done. With respect to the non-negotiables (caring for family, work, ect.) there are pockets of time that can be identified if you take the time (see what we did there?) to sort them out. Everyone’s time budget looks different. There is no one size fits all. You owe it to yourself to learn how to make the most of the time you have, so you can have the time to do all of the things that you want.
This season doesn’t have to take you down. Not only can you survive it, you can thrive during it and emerge refreshed (not defeated) in time to welcome the New Year.
Take the time. Learn to harness it, instead of letting it get away from you. If you were looking for some magical life hack… keep in mind that any hack is only as good or as bad as the person executing it. You are the magic. Be the magic. Be responsible for your time, and be honest about how (and why) you spend it. You got this.