Bust through Holiday Stress and Keep Writing

© Cheryl Malandrinos- All Rights Reserved

 

 

It’s the holiday season. There are gifts to buy, a house to decorate, guests to entertain, and a family to make memories with. And you still have to find time to dedicate to your writing career. 

Impossible? Not if you plan it right. 

Time management experts help you simply your life, prioritize your to-do list, and increase productivity. They also have ideas on how you can beat back holiday stress so there’s still room for your writing. And you’ll find many of these holiday stress-busters will help you throughout the year.

 

Plan Ahead 

Dr. Donald Wetmore, a full-time professional speaker on the topic of time management, says, "We know well in advance, (like a year before), that the holidays will require a lot more of our time for special preparations in addition to our regular routines and responsibilities." So plan ahead and schedule tasks and events with greater care. Then things get accomplished sooner — rather than later — and at a pace you can handle. 

But planning ahead doesn’t have to be reserved for the end of the year.  

Think about your mornings. Everyone’s battling for the bathroom; kids and adults are scurrying around like mice trying to get breakfast, find their belongings, and then run off to school or work. Talk about a stressful way to begin a day of writing. In her book Working at Home While the Kids Are There, Too Loriann Hoff Oberlin suggests planning for the morning the night before by packing lunches, preparing backpacks and briefcases, and setting aside easy breakfast items such as bagels and cereal.

 

Delegate 

During the holidays, it’s easy to try and do too much yourself. Dr. Wetmore says, "There is a lot of difference between "I do it" and "It gets done". Which is more important to you?" He hopes it’s the getting done part. While doing it all is fun, it might be an impractical goal which stresses you out. 

Even without a writing career to nurture, there isn’t enough time do everything. Admit you need some help and seek out a few of Santa’s elves — also known as your spouse and/or children — to help with the cleaning, shopping, and decorating. 

Delegation is something I have always struggled with. But after a year of trying to write full-time, take care of my family, and keep the house clean, I realized that as long as it gets done, I’m less frustrated. And that means less stress for me and a more productive day of writing.

 

Get Enough Sleep 

Getting enough sleep is another big one that I’ve had to work on. It’s tempting to wake up before the kids each morning and catch an hour of uninterrupted time, and then put in a few hours after they’ve gone to bed each night. But when you burn the candles at both ends, you are less productive and become more irritable. So it’s always important to get the sleep you need. And just think of how much more creative you’ll be with a full night’s rest.

 

Keep it Simple 

This isn’t the last holiday season you and your family will experience, so don’t feel like you have to do it all. Here are a few tips that Susie Michelle Cortright, Founder and Publisher of Momscape and freelance writer Marlene Biondo had to offer their readers: 

- Narrow down your Christmas card list

- Consider buying gifts online and take advantage of free gift wrapping services

- Choose one gift theme for everyone on your list

- Limit parties or consider having a pre-holiday or post-holiday get together 

My extended family is quite large, so my sisters and I take turns hosting one major holiday in our homes each year. Mine is Christmas Eve. After more than a decade of planning, I’ve found a few ways to take some of the stress out of holiday entertaining: 

- Create menus and ask each family to bring a dish

- Set up a coffee station — rent a percolator and put out packets of sugar, creamers, and spoons

- Purchase canned beverages so you don’t have to run around refilling drinks

- Use disposable plates and utensils to cut back on post-party clean up

- Delegate someone in your house to be the guest greeter and the coat taker 

I also have a family cookie bake and swap the week before Christmas Eve. We all have fun baking together, and I don’t have to make desserts for the party because I have dozens of cookies on hand. 

One last tip comes from Oberlin’s book. The cold weather lends itself to hot, filling meals. Make suppertime less complicated in December by preparing casseroles or meals in a crock pot. There are usually leftovers for at least one more meal or a couple of lunches for you during the work day.  

By keeping the holidays simple, you’ll avoid burnout and still keep up with your writing schedule.

 

Advice from Your Fellow Writers 

Sometimes the best advice you can receive is from fellow writers. Elfrieda Abbe, editor of "The Writer Magazine" asked subscribers to send in some tips on how they survived the holiday season. I found these helpful and creative. 

Phill Broomfield organizes his deadlines into the tune of favorite holiday songs. Just see how much fun your day can be: 

"8 O'Clock, The meeting rocked, Lunch is miles away...
Close all deals, Delete e-mails, Vacation's on the way-----aaay!!"
 

With what she has titled her "helldays journal" Joanne Flatt writes down all the things she wishes she could say to loved ones around the holidays. She uses these journal entries for poems and stories later on. 

Ginny Jaques says she likes to write a family newsletter to faraway friends and relatives. But one year she found herself so stressed around the holidays that it became more of a burden than a pleasure. Now Ginny sends out a New Year’s letter, which allows her to enjoy the season and writing her newsletter even more.  

The holidays should be a joyful and harmonious time spent with family and friends. With careful planning, you can experience all the peace of the season and keep writing too.

 

 

About the Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelancer who specializes in time management and organization for writers. She has also written articles on everyday life in the 1800’s, gardening, parenting, and women’s health issues. Cheryl is also a virtual book tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book Promotion. You can find out more about Cheryl by visiting her website at http://ccmalandrinos.tripod.com/ 

 

 

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Writer's Guide to Time Management