The holiday season is in full swing…are you stressed yet? At this time of year, we need to manage our time more than ever. And here’s the key – remember to say NO to what doesn’t fit your plan!

The mid-winter season is usually full of parties and gatherings, gifts and mail, and decorating and housekeeping. You have a lot on your plate (pun intended) throughout the year, and now you need to include year-end business projects and planning for 2024…AND fit in some time off from your business for celebration! “How can I possibly do all of this???”

As Steven Covey says, begin with the end in mind. The changes and tracking you do now will benefit you most next year.

So what do you want the holiday to look and feel like?

A good way to start is to look at everything you want to do in this busy season. I encourage you to make a list of everything you actually do – try one list for home and one for business. What were some of the tasks you completed last year? What has worked or not worked in the past, whether for business or home?

What are some things you are planning to do this year? Write them down – all of them.

(And don’t forget to include yourself in the mix! What do you want to do for YOU?)

Now the key to successfully creating your vision for the holidays: the 4 Ds!

Remember, consider these points for both home and business.

  • Delete – Does everything you wrote down really need to be completed? You may have an effective plan in place for your business, but what tasks and activities does your family really want to include? What can be eliminated? What do you all say “NO” to?
  • Defer – Does everything need to be done now, in this busy season? Could some things be put off? Look at each item on your list and say “NO” to what can be deferred until after the holidays.
  • Delegate – Are you the only one who can do a task? Are you SURE? If the answer is “NO,” then delegate the task to another family member. Imagine if your college student cleaned for your party, or your spouse wrote greeting cards. Or hire a professional house cleaner or caterer. How much more time would you have to write an end-of-year business plan?
  • Define – can someone else on this team do SOME of this task, and you just do the rest? For instance, you may want to plan a menu for a work party, but someone else can source the food.

However, whatever you delegate, clearly communicate your expectations and timeframe. It can be frustrating to delegate a task and then have the person on the other end drop the ball! Create a check-in schedule to make sure the project is moving forward.

Sometimes we participate in an activity because “it’s what we do.” When was the last time you checked to see that all the stakeholders still enjoy the tradition? Did the office charity drive go as planned? Or the Secret Santa exchange? If it’s not satisfying, say “NO.”

Or do your grown kids not want to bake together anymore but really enjoy playing Cards Against Humanity together? Say NO to the part you’re ready to leave behind.

When you remember your “NO” at year-end (and remember to keep track of what you’ve done for next year), you’ll find you’re using time efficiently on things that not only serve a purpose but that you enjoy.