How to Survive the December Dash
Every November, a dear friend puts an automatic response on all incoming email messages that reads, “This is our busy season. I will not be responding to email until February.” Her message reflects her years of experience in retail. Over 60% of her revenue comes in a six week period. To optimize customer services, she simplifies everything else. But you don’t have to be in retail to feel overwhelmed in December.
From after-work parties to school concerts, December is a time when one’s time and attention are often stretched. If you exchange gifts, it’s also a time when you may be stressed by the search for that “extra-special gift.” To top it off, December marks the end of the fiscal year, which comes with its own demands.
So, how do you survive the December dash without crashing your sleigh into a tree by the 31st?
You likely already know what is coming: A full slate of work and family parties, school events, and end-of-year meetings. Anticipate and proactively prepare.
- As you gear up to December, buy, wrap, and label ten gifts. In that pile, include three or four “anyone gift.” These can be given spontaneously if a last-minute visitor arrives.
- Buy in bulk in anticipation of more invites and drop-ins. You might want to have an extra bottle of wine on hand or a few more easy-to-prepare snacks on hand. Remember, buying in bulk will also save money.
- As you prepare, take time out to schedule. When you do, include some downtime to relax, recover, recharge, and gain perspective.
Prioritize Your Health
The stretch from late November to late December can do a number on one’s health. There is pressure to eat and drink more and decreased time to workout, sleep, and recharge. Also, all socializing means more contact with more people, including those carrying viruses. This combination puts increased stress on even the most robust immune systems. I recommend the following:
- Hydrate more (yes, this means more water, less alcohol).
- Eat less (even try intermittent fasts). Remember that an empty belly will also lead to deeper, more restful, and productive sleep.
- Gargle with salt water. It may sound silly, but it will do wonders for your immune system.
- More zinc.
Ensure Your Systems Are Up and Running
The more systems you have you in place, the better off you’ll be as you launch into one of the most hectic months of the year.
- Filter your communications to focus on what matters.
- Automate ordering (e.g., schedule regular deliveries of essentials).
- If you’re sharing holiday prep with your family, use Google Sheets to keep track of who is doing what. This may sound bureaucratic, but a shared doc is a great way to reduce text exchanges and long phone calls. No one needs to waste time talking about turkeys or stocking stuffers during the workday. Also, a shared document is a way to create clear contracting amongst friends and family. It is where you can be 100% transparent about what you are/are not doing this holiday season.
As you prepare for the December dash, think strategically about what you can delegate. What’s on your list of things to do? What do you want to do, and what would you prefer to not think about at all? Once you have a list of tasks, start delegating. Who on your current team can take on the tasks at hand? If no one fits the bill, can you hire a tasker to take on one or more specific jobs on your list?
- If you have a personal assistant, give them lead up time. If you delegate in October or early November, they will have more time to purchase cards, gifts, etc.
- If you don’t have a personal assistant, consider contracting with a tasker. If you have a teen in your life (e.g., a child or babysitter), you may already have someone who will be happy to lend a hand. Again, be sure to give yourself lots of lead up time so you can find the right person for the job and delegate.
- Whether you love Amazon, during the holiday season, Amazon Prime can become a dear friend. Do your research, browsing, and ordering online while you sip mulled cider.
If you prepare and embrace the above strategies, you’ll be more likely to avoid overwhelm. You’ll also be more likely to avoid crashing your sleigh before the month’s end!