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Experts’ Advice on How to Productively Get Through the Holiday Season Without Feeling Stressed

To help you make your December as relaxed as possible, some productivity and time management experts have put together their best tips on a stress-free holiday season.

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    By Tiffany

    Tiffany studied Language and Economics, and now likes to write about business topics and conduct interviews with interesting people. She spends her free time looking after her plants and with her dog.

    It’s December and the holiday season is just around the corner. A time to wind down, recharge your batteries, and be with family and friends. But unfortunately for many of us, this time ends up becoming the complete opposite: stressful.

    The cookies need to be baked, gifts bought, cards written and the tree decorated. More challenges at the end of a year that has demanded a lot from us already.

    To help you make your December as relaxed as possible, some productivity and time management experts have put together their best tips for a stress-free holiday season.

    Hopefully, you can apply some of the advice to your life, and gain more time for yourself and your loved ones.

    Thanks to all the contributors and Happy Holidays from the entire Mailbutler team! ☃️

    Getting things done during the holidays comes down to two important factors: planning ahead and keeping everything as simple as possible.

    The tendency during this season is to add more and more at every turn. Resist that temptation by planning in advance to do as little as possible, knowing full well that your schedule will fill up anyway.

    The less you plan to do, and the more you plan ahead, the easier it will be to be present at the moment and enjoy the festivities!

    Jeff Sanders – Productivity Coach, Keynote Speaker, Author


    The festive season, while bringing a lot of happiness, can also bring a bit of mass hysteria. I've never been one to overly indulge in festivities, less so in the madness.

    Frankly, it breaks my flow. Here are a couple of tips on how to stay productive without resenting your turkey and breaking your Christmas tree. 

    1) Strip it down and ignore the Joneses: By that I mean, don't let peer and societal pressure guilt trip you into having the biggest turkey and most Christmas lights in your neighborhood.

    Who cares if the prize (or price) is a heart attack? Do what makes you and your family happy. If you all are happy with a small tree or even just decorating the ficus, do that and own it proudly. 

    2) Don't drop the ball: While this tip may come in handy when decorating your tree (or ficus), what I'm referring to is your usual routine. If you have established personal habits or work routines, don't drop them entirely throughout the holidays.

    You'd have to spend time finding your feet and rhythm again when you'd come back to it.

    Rather, decide how you can maintain even just a light version of it and then accelerate to full speed again when the New Year's hangover is gone. 

    So my holiday mantra for you is: Keep it simple but keep it going.

    Tomas Svitorka – Life Coach and Productivity Coach

    Especially during the Christmas season, private tasks become more and more frequent. However, the good thing about these tasks is that they basically stay the same year after year.

    My tip: Start a Christmas checklist this year! It should tell you what has to be done by when. Once this checklist is created, you only need to complete or update it year after year.

    To make it as easy as possible for you to start such a list, I've already written down some first ideas that you can download here.

    Thomas Mangold – Author, Trainer and Coach for Self-Management

    The Christmas season can provide an excellent opportunity for reflection. Take some time to review the ups and downs of 2022, noting what went well and what fell short; there's something to learn either way.

    Combine these insights with your innate creativity and start to chart a course for 2023 (and beyond).

    When you engage in this process, you're becoming present in your life (I'm tempted to call this "Christmas presence"), releasing stress, and setting the stage for a fulfilling and productive future.

    Tim Stringer – Productivity Coach, Consultant & Teacher

    With Christmas around the corner, I wanted to share my simple and effective quick tips for freelancers, to help you have a stress-free (and productive) Christmas. 

    1. Outcome - Know your outcome. Having a clear goal of what you want to achieve before the holiday season is key to ensuring you can tick off not only the naughty and nice list, but your own to-dos.
    2. Prioritize - Once you know your outcome, list all the tasks you want to do and organize this list in order of priority from most urgent and important to least urgent and important. This will help you keep track of what needs to be done in those moments of uncertainty whilst highlighting what you thought maybe important, but actually isn’t. 
    3. The art of saying No’ - This is difficult for most of us that want to please everyone and take on the world. It really is something we all need reminding when we’re simply taking on too much and are saying yes to everything and everyone.
      Say “no” to projects that don’t offer value to your portfolio, soul, happiness, or finances. If the project will take more out of you than what it’ll give, there’s no need to take it on.
    4. Plan - Once you know your priorities you can plan for success. Work out what tasks you need to complete by when, use your favorite app (*ahem* Mailbutler) to block out time to complete them. Ensure you have a realistic amount of time with a buffer to get them done.
    5. Delegation and automation are your friends - To be an effective freelancer, even when running your own business with no staff, delegate any tasks that don’t utilize your skills or ones that you don’t naturally enjoy doing.
      Hacks like chasing up invoices, reminders to chase client leads, and follow-up briefs with clients are all automated via Mailbutler. Anything with admin, invoicing, marketing, job searches etc. can be easily delegated. 
    6. R&R + exercise -  As well as booking in time to be effective, book in time to exercise and to rest and reset. Your physical health influences your mental health and vice versa. You can do your best when you’re feeling your best.
    7. Enjoyment - If you’re finding your to-do list lackluster, ask yourself: how can I find enjoyment in doing those tasks? What can I do to make it more fun to be motivated?
    8. Be kind to yourself - This is by far, the most important of them all. Being kind to yourself and your mental health is what will keep you on top of any unwanted stress and allow you to feel on top of your mental state. Feed your soul with what you love and it’ll pay back in dividends. 

    Nick Kyriakides – Finalist for the ‘Freelancer of the year' award 2020

    What are we going to do with all of our new found time this holiday season?

    Relax and enjoy it I say.

    I think that the architect Ludwig Mies van da Rohe was onto something when he coined the phrase “LESS IS MORE” i.e the notion that a smaller amount of something can be much more effective than a large excessive amount. 

    This year is different for every human on the globe. One thing is for certain. We won’t be running around frantically shopping, going to parties, getting dressed up.

    This opens up an extraordinary and unique opportunity to DO WITH LESS and at the same time focus on what we DO have (like our health, loved ones in our lives, the ability to think and create)…which is SO much more.

    Paradoxically, I say that the best way to Productively Get Through The 2022 Holiday Season Without Feeling Stressed is to do less and appreciate every single solitary second of it!

    Happy holidays from me here in NYC to all of you.

    Nancy Snell – Productivity, Business & ADHD Coach

    Have an email-free Christmas.

    There are very few jobs where you're going to get told about an emergency on Christmas Day by email.
    If you're on holiday you shouldn't be working.

    So give yourself a present this year and turn everything off. Turn your email off. No Slack. No Zoom meetings. No WhatsApp and no Twitter. 

    Recommended reading: Christmas email marketing ideas and examples

    The first time you do this can be hard. You don't want to miss anything or upset someone if you don't reply immediately.
    But this means that you've got a job where you're permanently on call.

    If you don't stop checking your messages then you can't relax, rest, and enjoy this special time with your family and friends. 
    And that's what the holiday season is about. This is my daughter's first Christmas and I'm not going to miss a moment of it because I'm answering emails. 

    Chris Beaumont – Productivity and Time Management Consultant and Coach

    One part of time management deals with time travel. Or as Stephen Covey puts it: start with the end in mind. Another big part of time management is emotions. We combine these two aspects in the tip below.

    Imagine it’s December 26th. Christmas is over. The food was delicious. Everyone is happy about the presents they got. You're sitting quietly and thinking about the last couple of weeks.

    What had to happen to make these weeks a delightful journey - without the usual stress and rush that destroys the Christmas spirit every year? What did you do? What did you not do? Who helped you with what?

    Learn from this time travel. Create your plan for the future from the things and activities you have seen. And remember the most important thing: set your intention about how you want to feel on the 26th and the time leading up to this day.

    Then keep this feeling in mind every day, with every task you do, every decision you make, and every conversation you have.

    I wish you a pleasant time, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

    Mathis Uchtmann – Time Management Expert


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