Stay on track during the busy holiday season

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Having a hard time keeping track of everything in December? The holidays are a busy time for many people, with parties, activities, and usual appointments and errands – and that doesn’t even cover everything that needs to be done! For many people, their “to do” list can be never ending. While you may have tasks written down or programmed into your phone with reminders, it can be easy to ignore them when times get busy and stressful. Here are some suggestions on how you can stop ignoring your to-do list and keep on top of all your tasks:

Use a calendar

If you have any appointments or events coming up this month, make sure you book them directly into your calendar, whether it is electronic or manual. With an electronic calendar, you can email yourself reminders in advance, so you won’t forget about them or double book yourself. By using a calendar, you can also get a good view of what other activities you have coming up in the week or month, so you can plan ahead. Don’t be afraid to use your calendar for smaller reminders as well, like when to defrost the turkey, when to wrap gifts, and when to go shopping.

 

Organize tasks into categories or projects

If you have a big project to work on or have multiple tasks that fit into one category (like “holiday meal”), only set one reminder to review the project or category. In your reminder you can list all of the tasks that need to be completed, but don’t set a reminder for each separate task. This will quickly fill up your calendar and can make you feel overwhelmed. By setting up only one reminder, you can keep all the tasks related to that one project or category together. When you categorize tasks or activities, you can focus on the big picture and stay on track..

 

Use a digital app for your lists 

If you prefer checking off tasks on a to-do list, consider using an app on your phone that will help you keep track of what you need to get done. Apps like ASANA and Wunderlist have robust search features and a great task list that can help you record everything. They even let you categorize tasks into separate folders, so you can keep all related tasks together in one place. With a digital to-do list, you can also set reminders to be emailed to you or sent to your phone. You also don’t have to worry about losing or misplacing your list if you keep it on your phone – some apps even have the option of exporting your list or accessing it on a desktop for added security.

 

Make it visible

When you’re figuring out what you need to do, make sure you record your tasks or events in a place that you are sure to check regularly. If you have a calendar in your office but you never go in there, then you shouldn’t use it to record your holiday events and tasks. Instead, use your phone or electronic calendar, which you may be more likely to check regularly. For families, it is also important to make sure everyone is on the same page. Consider syncing your online calendars together or setting up a large format calendar in your kitchen or family room where everyone can see it and stay up to date on what is going on and what needs to be done. You can also use it to delegate tasks to each person, so everyone knows what they are responsible for doing.

 

Don’t take on more than you can

You can only stay on track of your holiday tasks if you have a manageable number of tasks to complete. If you try to take on more than you are actually able, you will have a much harder time trying to get things done on time and done properly. Don’t be afraid to get help from family and friends for holiday tasks like preparing for meals, decorating, and shopping for gifts. It’s also okay to say no to events or activities if you can’t make room in your schedule. Instead, try and plan get togethers after the holidays, so you don’t have to worry about making time for everyone.

 

If you have a lot that needs to be done during the holidays, make sure you take the time to properly plan and organize your tasks, so you can stay on track during the busy season. Find a method that works for you – one that won’t let you ignore or forget important appointments, events, and tasks. During the holidays, you can stay on top of everything and still have time to enjoy the season!

Plan your new year resolutions!

The holiday season may just be starting, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start planning about your New Year resolutions. If you want to be successful in 2019 with your goals, start planning your strategy now. Resolutions that are started last minute typically don’t end well – if you don’t have reasonable goals set in place and a plan to follow, you’re more likely to drop your resolution before spring.

Take the time now to start thinking about what it is you want to achieve in the new year. Is it an organized home? A more active lifestyle? Whatever it may be, use the tips below to start creating a plan you are sure to succeed at.

  

Think through your resolutions

Before you can start a plan of action, you need to think hard about what resolutions you want to set for yourself. Your resolutions need to be something that you really want to achieve, something that you are willing to accomplish or change about yourself, and something that you are actually capable of achieving. If you already know you have a busy year ahead, maybe there are some resolutions that won’t realistically work, like finding the time to exercise more. However, there may be big life events happening that fit in with your resolutions – like getting organized to prepare for moving to a new home. The key to your success is you, and depending on your resolutions, the people around you. Consider whether or not your resolutions are really what you want and what will work with your lifestyle before you start planning how you will accomplish them in the new year.

 

Start small and make your resolutions manageable

It’s important to make sure your resolutions are reasonable. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to achieve all that you want to do within the first couple of months of the new year. Start small, and work from there. If you set yourself up with high expectations or difficult tasks at the beginning, you may get discouraged and abandon your resolutions. This is why planning for your resolutions ahead of time is important. For example, if you want to organize your home, you can’t organize your entire house, or even an entire room in the first week of January. Getting organized can be a stressful and lengthy process that requires patience and dedication in order to maintain long-term. Instead, start your plan with small tasks, like focusing your organizing efforts on one item in one area of your home, like books in your living room or linens in your linen closet. This is an easy and manageable task that can be a stepping stone to larger projects once your momentum grows. As the months go on, you may find yourself with the time and motivation to tackle a room like your kitchen or bedroom once you’ve found success with other smaller projects.

 

Set reasonable goals and targets

 A resolution for the new year is exactly that: for the whole year. When you’re planning, make sure you take the time to assign yourself goals and targets throughout the year, and be reasonable about it. Keep the end goal in sight at all times and set benchmarks along the way to keep on track and boost confidence. Setting benchmarks along the way can help you check in with your progress and make sure you are sticking to your plan. Remember to be reasonable, and know you aren’t likely to see results right away. Your resolution will take time to achieve, so be patient and don’t give up.

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Sometimes it’s helpful to get a bit of help along the way. For example, maybe organizing is becoming overwhelming – don’t be afraid to reach out and get help. If you’re trying to stay active, join a fitness class or get a work-out buddy to go on runs or walks with you. Your environment greatly impacts your success, so make sure the people around you are on board with your resolution. If you want to get your space organized, you won’t be able to achieve it if your family or roommates keep adding clutter or don’t properly store items. Depending on your resolution, it may be important to get help from professionals or the people around you.

 

Stay positive throughout the process

 As mentioned earlier, the success of your resolutions depends on your motivation to achieve them. If you become disheartened or lose enthusiasm, it will be much harder for you to continue your action plan. Stay positive, and remember that even if you have a setback, it isn’t the end. You have a plan, it’s thought out, and you can achieve it. This is a resolution for the year, not the month of January. It may seem like a long and daunting process, but it can be done. Keep the big picture in mind to keep your motivation but work on each target at a time so you don’t get lost or fall behind. Remember what motivated you to start in the first place and hold onto it. It may help to write it down when you’re planning your resolutions as a reminder for when things get hard or you lose motivation.

 

Whatever you set out for yourself to achieve in 2019 can be accomplished if you take the time to plan and think through your resolutions. Before the busy holiday season begins, reflect on what it is you want to do in the new year, and who you want to be, so you can have a solid plan to follow when January comes.

5 clutter-free gift ideas for the holidays

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Shopping for the holidays? Calm Order recommends giving a gift than can be experienced or consumed. This way, your loved ones can enjoy their gift without adding unnecessary clutter into their lives. If you’re having trouble thinking of gift ideas, don’t just buy something at random. Chances are, whoever gets the gift won’t be able to use it and will end up having to give it away or put it in storage and forget about it. Don’t be afraid to buy gift certificates or tickets for gifts that won’t turn into unwanted clutter.

 

 Enjoy dinner and a movie

This classic weekend activity is a great gift to give anyone on your gift list. It can easily be customized to everyone’s tastes and interests because you can be general movie passes that aren’t specific to a certain movie, theatre or time. This way, your gift recipient can make plans to use their gift whenever works best for them. Better yet, it can be a completely clutter-less gift! Consider buy the movie passes and restaurant gift certificate online and sending them over electronically. You can print out a certificate or card that can be opened the day of but doesn’t need to be saved (and most likely lost) when the recipient goes to use it. This idea also works well as a couple or group gift.

 

Give a night at the theatre

Calgary is home to many different theatres and performance groups that provide entertainment for all ages. From musicals to comedy shows and family-friendly performances, there are many different performance companies like Theatre Calgary, Pumphouse Theatre and StoryBook Theatre that can also make great gifts for family and friends. If there is a specific show you know your loved ones will love, then it might be a good idea to purchase specific tickets for them and other friends and family before they sell out. You can even consider purchasing general admission tickets, so they can see a show whenever they want. This gift can be a unique experience, and an activity they may not have thought to do on their own. If you have friends or family that really enjoy seeing performances, consider also buying them season passes to their favourite place.

Explore Calgary’s museums and galleries

For an even more engaging gift, consider giving friends and family passes to one of the many museums and galleries in Calgary and the surrounding area. From places like the Glenbow Museum, Heritage Park or even the Royal Tyrrell Museum, season passes, or one-time admission tickets make a great gift for any individual or group. Admission passes will allow recipients to make a visit at a time that works with their schedule and be a fun afternoon or day activity for them to experience by themselves or with other friends. If you’re looking for a bigger gift, you could buy multiple admission tickets to multiple places, and cut down on the number of physical items your loved ones will receive this holiday season. Give them a gift they can actually experience and remember!

Test culinary skills and taste buds

If you know anyone that likes to cook, bake, or eat food, find a cooking class or demonstration on a food type or cuisine they like, so they can enjoy an afternoon or evening learning about (and eating) something they love! Most classes can be group or partner activities, so this could be a great idea to do with your recipient, or to give them to do with someone else. There are classes available in Calgary from a variety of organizations like ATCO Blue Flame, The Cookbook Company Cooks, Sunterra, and more. If your recipient isn’t a fan of cooking, try a tasting or pairing event instead, which usually offers beverages and food samplings for guests to try. Restaurants and bakeries offer events like this that allow people to purchase tickets in advance, which makes for a great gift to enjoy after the holidays. Not only are they engaging activities, they can also be very educational!

 

Treat your loved ones

After a busy holiday season, nothing is better than getting a relaxing day at the spa! Whether it is a massage, pedicure, or full treatment, consider giving a gift certificate to a spa for your friend or loved one. It could be their regular treatment, or something new they wouldn’t normally get to do. There are also spa treatments available for couples or groups that you can also give. Some packages may also offer the option to get food or drinks to turn it into an even more engaging activity. A spa-day is the perfect gift for friends and family who may need rest and relaxation after spending a busy few days with family or travelling.

  

Give a gift that won’t just take up space in the homes of your friends and family. This year give them something they can actually experience and enjoy. Not only will it save you time and eliminate your gift-wrapping time, you can be assured that your recipients will actually use and appreciate their gift without adding more clutter to their lives.