With the fall season in full swing, it is time for me to start planning our holidays. Our November and December calendar is planned with purpose. These last two months hold the majority of our family traditions. To give myself enough time to plan and organize our calendar, I start in October. This frees up my time during the holidays. Making memories and creating connections through shared experiences are the heart of our holidays.
Currently, my time has more demands as my primary focus is homeschooling the girls. I am more productive than in the summer since I have to be more organized to get things done. With more pressure on my time, I use more of my time management skills to get things done.
The brass tacks of time management for me come down to making checklists, doing the hardest thing first, and doing my research.
Part of my morning routine is to make a list of all that needs to get done. I thrive off of checklists. It is satisfying to get to the end of the day and realize that the list is complete. I still use good old paper and pen to create my checklist. I like to add, cross off, and alter my list simply. I keep my checklist in a spiral notebook on my kitchen counter, where it is easy to see what needs to be done next.
I have a goal each day of what I want to accomplish. My holiday checklist is always growing, and many items on the list have multiple pieces to push the project through to completion.
One of my biggest projects right now is planning my Christmas cards. I send Christmas cards out every other year. I love receiving Christmas cards and staying in touch with people all across the country. It is precious to see families grow over the years.
I have already started to update my address list by adding new friends and making sure addresses are correct. The next big piece of this task is finding a picture to have printed. I may use a picture from one of our family vacations or from our professional photo session that I still need to schedule. We haven’t had professional photos done for two years, so it is time to do that as well. The hardest part about professional photos is deciding what we should all wear. I am optimistic that we can get our mini-session scheduled in early October.
Holiday Checklist (So Far)
- Determine Thanksgiving gratitude activity
- Christmas cards sent 12/1
- Gift list finalized for family
- Make neighbors baked goods
- Plan our advent calendar
- Plan + purchase tickets for 3 Christmas experiences
- Girls chose service project
- Pick Christmas recipes
- Buy Trader Joe’s Cheese Fondue
- Update our stairway garland
Planning, organizing, and the hard work is done early so that the holidays are relaxing and enjoyable. As this month unfolds, and details get worked out for this year’s family traditions, I will post about our season of gratitude and advent.
Do the Hardest Thing First
When I look over my checklist, some tasks use my strengths, and some tasks consume more energy. My favorite thing on the list is deciding what gifts to give people. I have already started mentally making decisions on gifts to purchase. I enjoy thinking about each special person and deciding on what they would use. I am a practical gift giver, since I like to receive practical gifts. Even though gift-giving is by far what I would want to spend my time planning, I make myself do the hardest thing first.
Christmas cards are the most time-consuming tradition on my list this year since I hope to have a photo session first. I don’t particularly appreciate making phone calls to schedule appointments. I am not sure why the task of calling a business is such a drag for me. Thursday mornings are my scheduled time to make all phone calls for appointments. Having a scheduled day and time to do this most unpleasant task makes it seem easier.
I absolutely love receiving Christmas cards, and I enjoy the creative aspect of planning our cards. I am hopeful that since we couldn’t see as many people this year, more families will send out Christmas cards. It is fun to see my parents still receiving cards from families they knew over 30 years ago. My girls love seeing my friends from high school, seeing pictures of their friends in Colorado + Wisconsin, and watching our extended family grow.
So before I let myself get caught up with gift ideas, I do one more step in getting these Christmas cards ready. I have to do the hardest thing first, or it may just never get done.
Planning for purpose comes down to doing a lot of research. Researching gift ideas, crafts, activities, recipes, and family experiences is gratifying. I like to read reviews and local blogs to determine what products or activities would best fit our family.
When I have an idea, I go to Pinterest first to see what others have done. Most of the time, creative people have already done the idea and have tips. I am researching a gratitude activity that we could do each day in November to set our hearts on being thankful. In the past, we have had a Thanksgiving Tree, Blessing Jar, and talked about our Roses + Thornes around the dinner table. I am looking for an activity that will be new to us and engaging for all my girls.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail— Benjamin Franklin
Many of our family traditions come from ideas that I have read about in a magazine, blog post, or heard about through a friend. Not much is new, but it is fun to take ideas from others and put my own twist on it.
When I look at my calendar these days, it is full. It is satisfying to know that the activities that make it on my calendar are purposeful. I do not like to be busy, and I constantly fight the temptation to do out of obligation. I know I have done a better job of managing what I commit to when our week is purposeful, not overwhelming.
My weeks have to be balanced in work, play, and commitments to other communities. Even when we want to do it all, I chose to say no to fun opportunities to plan downtime in our lives. Planning with purpose makes it easier to know what makes the cut for our calendar.
Creating family connections, sharing fun experiences, and making memorable moments does not just happen. Much time is spent researching, organizing, and planning our calendar to ensure the moments are purposeful.
What does planning with purpose look like for you?
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