Enjoy the holiday season with less stress. This is how continuous improvement can help.

Before we know it, the holiday season will be here.  After such a tough year, we all need a break and the holidays can be just what we need, or not.  The holiday season is known for all the stress generated by all the tasks, activities, family and friends’ expectations, and for some of us, traveling.  This is true especially for those that hosts family reunions, office dinners, and friends’ get-togethers.  The stress can ruin your holidays, but it does not have to be that way.

We can use simple tools to plan and follow-up what we have to do before, during, and after those days. During that time, it is normal to feel all kind of feelings, from overwhelming with everything in your plate, to loneliness, if you will not have the chance to be with your loved ones, or even and overdose of togetherness.  Whatever it is the situation, decide with plenty of time what you are going to do, where, and with whom and start planning.

You can draw an estimate timeline using a normal calendar to mark when and where you will celebrate each activity and then go backwards to see when you have to complete each thing you need to do for the activity. You can follow these tips.

  • For each activity, start with the date and place that will celebrated.  
  • List all the things you need.  For example, if you are driving to see your family in Thanksgiving, what date you are going to drive, car maintenance, route, hotel reservations if needed, and others.
  • For each thing on the list, write an estimate range of days on which you should accomplish it.  Use a range rather than a specific date if it is possible because you are trying to avoid stress, not create more.  Be flexible with yourself, and realistic.
  • If you have several activities, you can use a different ink color for each one, a color code! This will facilitate to identify what belongs to what. 
  • Include time to create your shopping list, buy or do postal cards, and of course, shopping.
  • Prioritize those presents that needed to be mail, as during those days the mailing volume increases.
  • Mark in the calendar when those tasks should be completed following the color code.
  • At the end you will see everything that needs to be done each week.
  • To follow-up the items of each month, use a simple kanban board to know what is pending, doing, or completed.

At the end of the post, you can see an example.

Remember to include time to plan the menus, getting special items for the menu, and include the commuting time when visiting friends or family that lives a lot more than a few miles from your home.   Reflect about the meaning of the holidays for you and prioritize.  Again, you want to enjoy not to make this another work project.  Consider including in the calendar some me time, it is important to take time for you to release the stress reading a book, taking walks or schedule a massage. 

Using a schedule help you to see everything that you want or need to do.  Take a close look at your list, be honest, is it doable?  Be realistic, keep things simple.  I know you want everything to be perfect but when it comes to the holiday’s perfection is about the simple little things like a nice conversation with those loved ones that you haven’t see in a long time.  Nothing is more important than being present.