Managing Holiday Tasks with Less Stress

Both of my go-to radio stations start playing Christmas music in early November. While there must be a large subset of the US population for whom this is a good thing, I am not in that group.


I absolutely love the holidays, but the volume of tasks that get added to my list at the end of every year can be stressful.


…and all the renditions of Jingle Bells before I’ve had any Thanksgiving turkey just makes me grumpy.


The good news is that we can manage our holiday task lists using the same skills and discipline with which we manage our year-round projects and tasks.


For me and my husband, this includes:

  • Making a holiday meal spreadsheet
  • Creating Outlook Tasks for house decorating, Christmas letter writing, etc.
  • Blocking off calendar time for shopping and gift wrapping
  • Maintaining a Word document for gift-giving (ideas, items purchased, and money spent)
  • Getting our kids to make Amazon wish lists


The volume of tasks may be larger than usual, but the task-management methodologies are the same.


In this video interview with WTOC Savannah, I discuss holiday task management in the context of the 4 Ds: Do it myself, Delegate it, Defer it, and Dump it. The 4Ds are a great tool for use with email processing and task list management.


They work equally well for the holidays…



If you cannot watch the video right now, here’s the gist…


The 4 Ds


Look at your list of Holiday To-Dos and make one of the following four decisions…


Do it myself, but

  • Cut your goal in half (per Jon Acuff in his book, Finish) – make 3 different cookies rather than 6
  • Simplify gift-giving with a charitable donation


Delegate it

  • Send your teenager to the store for the white elephant gifts
  • Ask a coworker with similar errands to run to share errands


Defer it

  • “We’ll do this next Christmas.” My family did this with our Christmas Candy.
  • Cancel meetings that cover topics that can wait until next year


Dump it

  • Things change, even traditions. I dumped the holiday craft this year.
  • Even if it hurts. Dump it anyway.



Why do all of this?  To be present!  This is where the joy lives.


For more holiday tips, read this post.


Seraphina Does EVERYTHING!

In today's world, kids are often as over committed as adults. Seraphina does EVERYTHING! helps children, and the adults who love them, understand that life isn't all about doing. It's also about being!

Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.





1 Comment

  1. Janet Barclay

    For many years I struggled with being very organized at work, but not at home. This is an excellent example of how we can apply our work-related skills to our personal lives. Thanks, Melissa!


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