3 Simple Ways to Reclaim December

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu.

Image via Wikipedia

December has a secret power.  It’s the only month of the year where you get to feel insanely busy for 31 days and then, at the end,  look back and feel like you accomplished nothing.  Isn’t that fun?

While there is little to do about the “insanely busy” part, making time for these three  activities in December will help you prepare for an amazing January.

Clean up your to-do list

First, go through your list and mark off all the tasks you know in your heart you are never going to do.  You know the ones.  It may seem harmless to leave them there for “someday”–but it’s not.  By just taking up space on your list those items are  cluttering  your thinking and contributing to your feelings of overwhelm–both of which impact your effectiveness (and not in a good way).

Next, review what’s left.  Are you the best person to implement every one of the remaining tasks?  I’m guessing not.  Find the items other staff members or volunteers are able to do, and ask for help.  If  you don’t have the expertise you need on staff or in your volunteer pool, hire a freelancer (like me!) to help.

When you are done, your to-do list should actually be do-able.  Just in time for the new year.

Rethink Planning

Now that you’ve created space, dedicate some time to the  important, but not urgent work work that often get’s ignored–like planning.  I don’t mean “so complicated it collapses under its own weight” planning.  I mean “so simple you could stop reading and do it right now” planning.  Like choosing three words to guide your work in 2011, or writing a holiday wish list.

In addition to being simple enough to do by yourself, or even with a small group at the end of the year, this kind of planning gives you a direction in which to move, without compromising your ability to be agile.  Add a bottle of wine to the mix, and it can also be a lot of fun.

Enjoy the season

For most grown-ups, the obligations of the holiday season overwhelm the excitement.  So give yourself permission to act like a kid.  Take a snow-day (or sunshine-day for those of you in warmer climates).  Bake your favorite cookies–and allow yourself to eat them.  Do some shopping–with you in mind.  Write a thank-you note to a mentor with whom you’ve been out of touch.  Buy holiday gifts for children in need.  It’s the season of joy–be sure to claim some of it for yourself.

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