The month of December should be at least celebratory. Maybe even filled with joy. It could be the most exciting and anticipated month of the year.
But it’s often the most dreaded month. December is crammed full of obligations. You have events to attend nearly every night — sometimes with people you don’t want to be with. You have extra shopping and cooking. You have to battle extra traffic and crowds of people — many of whom aren’t nice. Stress is high. Patience is low. Love is often absent.
December can be one of the worst months of the year. But you have the ability to choose how you will respond to this season. You can choose to get swept into the craziness. You can choose misery and exhaustion and grumpiness.
Or you can choose to live at peace when everything around you is not. I’ve found two time-hacks that can help you live with greater peace in the midst of a very unpeaceful month.
1. Start with the end in mind.
Stephen Covey suggested this as one of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and this concept works well for the chaos of December. Before you dive in, reflect on what you want December to be like.Before you dive into December, reflect on what you want December to be like. Click To Tweet
Four questions can help you start December with the end in mind.
1. How do you want to feel at the end of this season?
Do you want to feel connected to certain people? Do you want to feel rested? Do you want to feel like you’ve worshipped all season long?
Describe how you want to feel. This is a good exercise for families to work through together. This question is the cornerstone for the remaining questions.
2. What commitments do you HAVE to do?
Most people approach this season as if you have to say yes to every invitation. But an invitation is not an obligation. There are, in fact, very few commitments that you have to do. You only feel like you have to do them. Identify the few that are actually required of you.Every invitation doesn’t create an obligation. You can say no. Click To Tweet
3. What invitations do you NOT have to do?
As I said earlier, an invitation is not an obligation on your part. There are many invitations that you do not have to do.
You don’t have to go to your grandmother’s house on Christmas morning. Everyone may expect you to. But you don’t have to. You can say no to people you love.
You don’t have to go to your office’s Christmas party. Everyone may expect you to. But you don’t have to.
When you identify what invitations you do NOT have to do, you exercise agency — the ability to choose how you spend your time and energy.
4. What do you WANT to do?
Your desires matter. Now that you’ve looked at all the commitments and divided them into HAVE TO and DON’T HAVE TO, go through each commitment and ask, “What do I WANT to do?”
If you don’t have to do it and don’t want to do it, why would you do it?
Once you answer this question, you have whittled down your obligations. Decline all of the remaining invitations. You don’t have to give a reason for declining. Now you’re obligated only to things that you either have to do or want to do.
2. Brainstorm and Batch.
This season brings so much additional shopping and cooking. This alone can lead to busyness and exhaustion.
Extra gifts and cooking lead to dozens of small errands. You run back and forth to the grocery store or mall. You spend extra time shopping online. All of this adds up to extra time.
All of these little trips create busyness and exhaustion. But you can beat busyness before it starts by brainstorming and batching.
1. Brainstorm all of the possible gifts you need to buy and special meals you need to prepare.
Go through the list of commitments you just made. Brainstorm all of the things that you’ll need to get or do to participate in each of those. Brainstorm through all of the people who you will need to buy presents for.
This list alone can help you identify about 90% of the things you need to get.
2. Create lists based on where you need to buy things.
My wife, Dorothy, and I do this year round. We have a couple of shared Apple Notes that are based on where we need to buy things — Walmart, Grocery Store, Lowes, etc. As soon as we need something from the grocery store, one of us writes it in the Grocery Store Note. When one of us goes to the store, the other has the shared list.
You can do the same with all your shopping. Create lists of all the places where you’ll need to buy things: Grocery Store, Amazon, Walmart, Toys R Us. You could even make some that are a bit more general — Online Shopping and Around Town.
This helps you ensure that once you get to that place, you don’t forget anything that you’re supposed to get. It can minimize your extra trips to the grocery store.
3. Batch your shopping and errands.
Schedule times every week when you will batch your errands. Instead of making a trip every day to the grocery store or to the mall or even to Amazon, schedule specific times. You could plan to do most of your grocery shopping for the week on Tuesday at 6:00 pm. Or schedule to do all of your online shopping on Wednesday night at 9:00 pm. You’ll be amazed at how much time you save just by batching all of these little trips into one big trip.You can make December the most peace-filled month of the year with these 2 time hacks. Click To Tweet
December has the potential to be the busiest month of the year. Or you can choose how you want to feel. The choice is yours. These time hacks can help you make the most of your December.
Question: What hacks have you used that will help you have a more peaceful Christmas?