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How to Squeeze in Everything for the Holidays Without Losing Your Sanity With all the holiday cheer upon us — it means it's time to bust out the Ibuprofen and put on your game face. "The most wonderful time of the year"...

By Hunter Meine

entrepreneur daily

This story originally appeared on Calendar

With all the holiday cheer upon us — it means it’s time to bust out the Ibuprofen and put on your game face. “The most wonderful time of the year” can morph into the most stressful time of the year if you’re not careful. It’s easy for the holidays to become a blur of last-minute vacation organizing, belated party planning, and frantic gift-wrapping. But in almost every case, holiday havoc can be avoided with a bit of advance planning. Here are some time-saving tips to help you squeeze in everything during the holidays without losing your sanity.

Secure Travel Plans as Early as Possible

Whether heading to a beachside resort or flying to Grandma’s house this Christmas, make your travel arrangements now. Some of the busiest travel dates fall between December 21 and December 27. Therefore, you may want to book your flights before or after these dates, if possible. Remember that this isn’t the time to wait for last-minute traveling discounts. Procrastination could lead to canceled holiday vacation plans if airlines sell out of available seats.

Secure all your transportation and accommodation arrangements well in advance whenever possible. Don’t forget to notify your employer of your traveling plans and get them approved as needed. Many employers use team scheduling apps such as Calendar, Google Calendar, or Microsoft Calendar to stay organized year-round. Input your vacation plans into your team calendar as soon as possible to get first dibs on vacation dates. If you wait too long, you may need to change your holiday travel plans to ensure your employer isn’t short-staffed.

Set Task Deadlines Based on Order of Priority

Not everything on your holiday to-do list is of equal priority. For example, booking flights and hotel arrangements are probably more pressing than buying gifts from neighbors. Set task deadlines in your calendar to ensure you don’t get distracted by small tasks and overlook the big ones. These should be prioritized based on order of importance.

To begin setting task deadlines, create a master list of everything you need to do to prepare for the holidays. Write down completion dates following each item in your list so you know when things need to be done. Some dates may be set in stone (like an upcoming holiday party you’re hosting), while others may be more flexible. Next, number the items based on how pressing and important they are. Finally, input your to-do list in order of priority into your preferred calendar app and set deadline reminders for each task.

Create a Budget and Stick to It

Approximately 1/3 of Americans go into debt every year around the holidays. Gifts, airline tickets, and hotels can all add up quickly. According to CBS News, the average holiday debt is nearly $1,550, which can take months to pay off. It’s little wonder that reducing debt is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. To avoid losing your sanity due to excess holiday spending, create a budget in advance and stick to it.

Many people spend more when shopping online than at a brick-and-mortar store. Online stores often require a minimum purchase to qualify for free shipping, which incentivizes you to spend more. Plus, virtual carts have unlimited space, making buying more easier than you would in person. Keep a running tally of all your holiday spending, and stop making purchases when you reach your budget maximum.

Meal Prep to Save Time

Holiday meal planning and preparation are huge stressors for many people. If you want to save time and decrease anxiety, prepare your meals in advance. Decide what recipes you want to make and print out ingredient lists to limit unnecessary shopping trips. Keep in mind that grocery stores often get extremely busy around the holidays. You may also discover that popular ingredients are nearly impossible to find if you wait until the last minute to buy them.

Some items, such as fresh produce, may not keep longer than a few days in the refrigerator. But most of your dry ingredients can be purchased weeks in advance without spoiling. Check purchased ingredients off your list so you can see at a glance what you still need to buy. Ensure you have room in your refrigerator or freezer to store meals once you make them. Don’t forget to send out meal assignments at least a week in advance if you’re organizing a potluck dinner.

Designate Tasks to Others

Remember the old saying about how many hands make light work? This adage is never truer than it is around the holidays. Whether you’re arranging a work party or a small celebration with family and friends, task designation is essential. If you try to do everything yourself, you’ll most likely end up stressed, irritated, and completely worn out. You won’t even have the energy to enjoy the holidays with the people you love most.

To stay sane this holiday season, bring trusted friends and family members into the event planning and execution stages. You might hand off the venue scheduling responsibilities to an astute, organized best friend. Your creative sister-in-law might love to be in charge of table decorations and party décor. Your brother might enjoy planning games and activities to keep everyone engaged. Assign tasks based on each person’s strengths and interests to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Prioritize Sleep

If you typically run at full speed 24/7 during the holidays, it’s time to re-evaluate things. You’ll eventually burn out when you spend too much time burning the candle from both ends. To keep your energy levels high, giving your mind and body a chance to rest and recuperate is essential. That means you need to prioritize sleep and ensure you’re getting sufficient shuteye for your body’s needs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults sleep at least seven hours each night. But remember that the quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity. To improve your sleep, consider keeping a regular sleep schedule, even through the holidays. You might also ask Santa to bring you a high-quality mattress, so you experience fewer aches and pains at night.

Eat Healthy Meals

Some people thrive on the hustle and bustle of the holidays. They love running from place to place, crossing items off their gift lists. But remember that even the most well-tuned vehicle can’t run on gasoline fumes for very long. To properly fuel your body, you need to eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients.

Gingerbread cookies and festive pies are delicious holiday treats, but make sure they’re not your primary source of energy. Instead, focus on eating lean protein, colorful vegetables, and energizing whole grains. Don’t forget to include fiber-rich fruits and healthy fats in your diet to keep you satiated. This will help you resist the urge to munch on candied pecans all day.

Throw Perfection Out the Window

If there’s one thing in life you can count on, it’s that things don’t always go to plan. If you’re dead-set on perfection this holiday season, you’re almost guaranteed to be disappointed. You may not have the perfect weather forecast during your Christmas getaway. Or, you might experience your first Pinterest fail when trying to recreate a charming elf-shaped cake. Remember how to roll with the punches and recognize the beauty in imperfections.

Humor is often the key to making the most of less-than-idyllic situations. Don’t take yourself too seriously; learn how to laugh when things go wrong. You’ll have a much more enjoyable holiday season if you know how to savor every imperfectly beautiful moment with the ones you love.

You’re doing it wrong if you feel like you need to be put in a straightjacket after the holidays. Use these helpful tips to manage your time, set clear priorities, and maintain your sanity this holiday season.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Duygu; Pexels

The post How to Squeeze in Everything for the Holidays Without Losing Your Sanity appeared first on Calendar.

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