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Book helps with managing holiday time

Posted: Sunday, December 01, 2002

How much time do you realistically have to devote to preparing for the upcoming holidays? In a book entitled, "Unplug the Christmas Machine," the authors, Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli have women take an honest look at available time.

"Many women overestimate the time they have available for holiday project," Robinson and Staeheli say.

They suggest taking an inventory of your lifestyle. The purpose is to get an idea of how busy you are before adding on holiday responsibilities. The inventory involves looking at employment and other commitments.

Are you employed full-time or part-time? If not employed outside the home, do you have young children at home? Are you a student? Are you a single parent or do you have extended family responsibilities? What other commitments do you devote your time to such as children's activities or volunteer service?

After checking through this list, how many hours of free time a day can you count on? If there are any, how do you usually spend those unscheduled hours? Next, complete this sentence: In preparing for the holidays, I usually take the time from ____.

The second part of the exercise is to examine the tasks of the holidays to assess the responsibilities that might be added to your everyday schedule. Make a list of any responsibilities you were responsible for last year.

For example anything related to gifts-making the list, shopping, making gifts, wrapping or sending. Also, baking, meal preparation or entertaining and all the shopping and preparation that goes along with these tasks. Don't forget to include everything involved with decorating.

The next step is to think of the holidays last year and put a star by the responsibilities that you enjoyed doing. Beside the ones you didn't enjoy, write a few words that describe the reason or reasons. The authors suggest reasons such as not enough time or money, not enough family support or help.

The idea behind completing these two exercises is to get a better view of how much time you realistically have for holiday projects, the tasks you attempt to do for the holidays and how you feel about the tasks.

At this point, you may want to consider prioritizing the time you now see you realistically have and fill in your calendar first with the things that make the holidays special for you and your family.

Next set deadlines for things that have to be done to accomplish that goal. If there is time left, fill in the things you think you should do. This will assure you are doing the things that are most important to you and your family. Use a "to do" list and cross things off as you and your helpers accomplish them.

If you are a perfectionist, beware; you may have to decide between doing the right thing and doing things right. There may be some tasks you can get help with if you are willing to lower your standards a bit.

If you are a procrastinator, beware; to conquer procrastination you may have to break a big job into smaller tasks and work on it for 15 minutes at a time.

And keep in mind, "No" is an option. You've prioritized your activities, so hopefully it will be easier to say no to requests that are less important. During this hectic time, try to relax and check your breathing. Take a few deep breaths every now and then and stay focused on what you are doing, especially when driving.

Side note: Copies of "Unplug the Christmas Machine" are available in our local libraries, thanks to the generous donation by Pat Muir.

Linda Tannehill is an agent at the Alaska Cooperative Extension Office. She is a home economist and involved in the 4-H/Youth Develop-ment programs. The Kenai Penin-sula District Extension Office is at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite A, Soldotna, AK. The phone number is 262-5824 or toll-free at (800) 478-5824.



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