(It’s nicer than it sounds.)
In case you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by this holiday season…
Make a list of everything you are worried about. Write down as many things as you can in five minutes. This could include upcoming events, projects at work, household chores, or whatever is on your mind. Try to stick to phrases. Don’t worry about full sentences, grammar, punctuation, or spelling. Eliminate self-censorship. This process is the idea behind free writing.
Review your list.
SHORTER VERSION: Look at each item and think about what you’re already doing to work on it. Let yourself feel good about the progress you’ve already made. Then, set the list aside, take another deep breath and go back to your regular day or watch a little water action.
LONGER VERSION: Ask yourself a few questions. Can I do anything with or about this item? If yes, mark that item somehow (e.g. a star) and make any notes you find helpful regarding things like next steps you’ll need to take. If no, mark it another way (e.g. an X) move on to the next item.
Do I really need to do this? If yes, keep it. If no, cross is off. Draw a line through the whole thing for a more obvious effect.
Could someone help me with this? (i.e. Am I willing to ask for help on this?) If yes, ask for help. If no, ask yourself why. If the answer is reasonable, however you define that, keep it on the list. Make a note of anyone you might need to ask for help.
If after answering these questions you haven’t crossed anything off your list, take a good hard look at your list and yourself these two questions. Is it reasonable for one person to do all of this? Do I have an idea of how I could get it all done?
Pull out any action items you’ve identified and choose two or three you could do quickly to get them off your list. Add the others to your existing system for tracking your To Do items. If you don’t have a formal way, make a list somewhere that makes sense for you. Ideally, you’ll also prioritize these items and set due dates for them. If these items are already on your work list, you’re all set.
Move forward working through your actions list.
Keep this list even after everything is done. Come January, it could give you a boost to see all that you accomplished or just some relief to see how many of the things you were worried about are no longer concerns. Next year, this list might also help you plan your holidays even further ahead of time to reduce the frenzy.