How to Be Productive During the Holidays
So here’s a thing: in the US, Thanksgiving is next week.
Yeah, that was my reaction too when I looked at my calendar. I’m already behind for NaNoWriMo but felt pretty relaxed about it. “I totally have time to catch up on my word count!” Then I realized Thanksgiving was next week and all of the sudden reality hit me. My neice’s birthday was this past weekend, this upcoming weekend my family is heading out of town to celebrate my grandpa’s birthday, then BOOM! It’s Thanksgiving. Then we’ll be full swing into Christmas.
I do not have nearly as much time on my hands to catch up on my word count as I thought. On top of it there’s blog posts to write, books to read and review, presents to buy, food to cook… as much as I love the holiday season, it also can be pretty stressful and hectic.
What’s a person to do when they have a to-do list a million miles long, but in reality all they really want to do is curl up with some hot chocolate and watch Hallmark Christmas movies? Here’s some ideas:
Every year for NaNoWriMo I swear I’ll get writing done on Thanksgiving. “Even for just a few minutes! I can get some words in!”
Do I get writing done on Thanksgiving?
It’s just not a realistic goal for me. As you’re preparing for all that you need to do and determine what you can actually do. For me, that means on major holidays I’m not going to get anything extra done, so I need to work extra hard the days before so I can have fun later.
Or maybe you had a goal of reading a certain number of books in one month and you need to cut that number down. Maybe you need to cut back on the number of projects you work on through these next several weeks. Maybe it’s not realistic for EVERYONE on your gift list to receive a handmade item by you.
Yes, this will require some planning. (Which is why I’m writing this post before Thanksgiving.) But once you get the leg work done, it’ll be so helpful!
For me - this meant planning out and writing all of my blog posts for the remainder of the year. Yup. I have every blog post from now through December (and even the start of January) planned. I’ll have them all written before Thanksgiving hits (if not before) save for the ones which are more time sensitive.
Example: I can’t finish my November Reading Round-Up until November is over. However, I can write each review for the books I complete right after I finish them so I’m not cramming it all in at the last minute.
This way, I don’t have anything to worry about blog-wise while I’m trying to enjoy the holiday festivities.
Be Flexible and Make Compromises
This weekend was my niece’s first birthday, which meant we were busy with presents, decorations, and spending time with friends and family. Good times were had by all! Going in, I had a plan for catching up on my writing. I got a lot done that morning, and once I got home after the party I’d get even more done. Then… friends decided to hang out more afterward and through the evening. I really wanted to go. But, I had words to write.
I ended up compromising.
I didn’t go out with my friends, but I did help watch my niece so my sister and brother-in-law could. I was able to bring my laptop and sit in the living room while my niece slept. (Or rather, played in her playpen because each time we put her down she cried.) I didn’t get quite as many words in as I planned, but I got far more than I would have if I went out.
Then this upcoming weekend, I plan on bringing my laptop with me while my family and I road trip for my grandpa’s birthday. If possible, I’ll be writing while others are driving.
Is it ideal? Nope. But, I’ll still get more done than if I were to skip those days of productivity.
Remember It Doesn’t Need to be Perfect
We get this image in our minds of the perfect holiday seasons. Nothing goes right, the tree looks just so, the presents are all wrapped in a timely fashion, and we can sip eggnog by the fire at the end of each day.
Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out like that. And that’s okay.
You need to learn to forgive yourself for when things aren’t completely perfect. The last sentence you wrote for your novel might not be the most brilliant piece of literature ever written. The tinsel on the Christmas tree might get clumped up a bit. You might not reach your book reading goal for the year.
All of this is okay. As long as you’re taking care of yourself, there’s a roof over your head, the kids are alive, priorities are in order, and you’re spending time with the people you care about, you’re doing a great job.
What goals do you need/want to complete the next several weeks during this busy time? What’s your action plan or any advice for people who need to get through their own to-do list?
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