2 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Holiday Stress

Cindy Vanhoff is an Organizing & Productivity Strategist.  She believes in being as efficient and effective with her time and space as she can be, so she has the time to do the things she loves with those she loves.  For over a decade and a half, Cindy has been sharing with others how they can make the most of their time and space, so they too can make more time for the things that matter.  

“Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy, and rewarding life.”

Marilu Henner


The holiday season has arrived! I don’t know about you, but this year I seem to be extra excited. I know what I am going to do, and when I am going to do it. That really helps me to enjoy the season. I use a simple 2 step system to make sure I have time for the things I need to do, and the things I want to do.

I can’t remember where I heard this, but I am pretty sure my pastor said it many, many years ago – have everything done by December 22. This of course applies if you celebrate Christmas. But the same sentiment applies to any holiday.
Enjoy a few days. Don’t let it all be about work.

I know some people have a hard time finding time for “it all” and the reality is we don’t have time for it all unless our “all” is realistic and doable. This is where my system comes into play.

My 2-step system is simple.

Step 1 – Figure out the things I need to do, and the things I want to do.

Step 2 – Schedule them and take action.

I would normally start this in October. However, November and early December works as well.

First things first

  • Make a list of all the things you need to do before the holidays. I created this Holiday To-Do form for you to use. Or, you can use a simple piece of paper, word document, or checklist and title it Holiday To-Dos.
  • Now, either brainstorm or write down in categories ALL the things you need to do and want to do this holiday season.
  • Next to each item, write down how long you think it will take.
  • Put either a priority of 1, 2, or 3 or A, B, or C.
    • A would be must be done
    • B would be would like to do
    • C would like to do but isn’t imperative
  • Now delegate.
    • Who would be best at the task. Here is a list of tasks that you might think of delegating.
    • If it’s something only you do, then highlight or circle the task.
    • If it’s something you could use help with, then that is the name of the person going into the delegate column.
  • Next step is to go back through the list and cross of the things that aren’t that important. This in itself should relieve some of the stress.

Schedule Your Time

Use this calendar or your calendar and take the following steps:

Take your list of things you have created to do for the holiday season.

  • Circle all of your top priority items (A or 1)
    • Take a look at how long each of them takes.
    • Schedule them into your calendar. Tasks that take more time can be scheduled on non-work or non-school days.
  • Now do the same with your 2nd priority.
  • Then the 3rd priority. These are probably things you want to do, but don’t need to do, and if they just disappeared from your list it would still all be good.

As the quote above says, be REALISTIC about what you can do and about your expectations.
Remember the reason for your season. I bet it’s not meant to have anything to to with stress.

Action Step(s)

  • Create to-do lists
  • Schedule them onto the calendar.
  • Take a breath and get ready for the fun.
  • Let me know in the comments below what is your favorite thing about your holidays.


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