lists

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!

Don't forget to make your moving checklist!

If you're planning on moving soon or in the process of moving, you know that there are a lot of tasks that need to be completed before the process is over! In order to stay on track, make sure that you create a checklist with all of the important tasks that you need to this. Checklists are important because during a busy time like moving, it is very easy for people to forget to do even the most important tasks. With so much going on, many things can get lost in the shuffle. Whatever needs to get done, make sure you write it down.

Checklists also make it easier for you to delegate to others. For a more organized move, don’t be afraid to ask from help, either from family or friends, or even professional moving services. This will help make the process as efficient and stress-free as possible. You want to make sure that you have enough time to complete the process without rushing, but you also don’t want to be perpetually unpacking your belongings, so a checklist can also help you stay on track.

While many items are easy to remember (like decluttering and packing), there are other tasks that often get overlooked. Below, we’ve outlined some of the tasks that you should include on your list:

-       Important records: This includes any school, medical, or dental records you may need to transfer to a new service. If you are unable to have them transferred, you may need to obtain your own copies.

-       Time-off work: Why try and finish a move over the weekend? Make sure you take plenty of time so you don’t have to rush or put off moving until your done work for the day. It might be a good idea to take an extra day or two to relax and enjoy your new home!

-       Moving documents: Designate one folder for all of your important moving documents so you don’t forget anything (or accidentally pack it!) for moving day.

-       Insurance: If you’re moving a lot of valuable items, it may be worth it to get moving insurance. This way, you will be covered if anything goes wrong during the move. Make sure to carefully pack your valuable items and store them in a safe location during the move.

-       Know where to go for help: If you’re moving to a new area, it may be useful to research the different service providers (electrician, plumber) in case you notice something isn’t working right during your move or right after.

-       Return borrowed items: Have you recently loaned items from the library or from a friend? Make sure you return everything that you have out on loan and there is nothing left on your records.

-       Prescriptions: Visit your pharmacist and make sure that all your prescriptions have been filled so you don’t have to worry about running out during the move and the initial period after.

-       Electronics: Many electronics come with a variety of cables, so take pictures of all of your plugged-in electronics so you can easily set them up in your new home. It is also a good idea to back up your devices before the move.

-       Plan a moving party: Make sure you enjoy the last couple of nights in your home. Help your children plan one last sleepover, or invite family, friends, and neighbours over for one last evening.

-       Pack an bag with essentials: Make sure that all of your essentials like toiletries, a couple of outfits, shoes, snacks, and important documents like passports and birth certificates.

-       Defrost freezer: A day or two before you move, make sure that you empty out the items in your freezer and make arrangements for their storage. Then, let your freezer defrost so it is ready to be moved to your new home.

-       Drain fluids: Make sure that equipment and machinery like hoses and lawnmowers are empty of any water or gasoline before moving.

-       Plants: If you’re taking plants with you, make sure they have been watered and cared for, and are stored in a safe location during the move. If you are unable to keep them, see if family and friends are interested in looking after them, or donate them to a local charity.

-       Check the weather: The weather is constantly changing here, so make sure you stay up to date on what the weather conditions will be like on moving day. This may affect your travel times and how much you are able to do on that day.

Don't forget anything during your move by keeping track of everything you need to get done before, during and after the process. When in doubt, there are plenty of printable checklists available online to help you get started!

Avoid stress: Get ready for Christmas ahead of time!

There are many elements that make up the holiday season, but one of the most important events during Christmas is the dinner itself, whenever you may be celebrating it. For those that are hosting, this event is even more important – and stressful! With many activities on the go, the holidays may seem like one massive headache, but it doesn’t have to be if you plan ahead.

While most of the food can’t actually be cooked until the day before or the day of, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do ahead of time. On the contrary, planning out the meal and making a list will make the day of go a lot smoother!

First things first: plan out the dinner menu. You will have to make note of who is coming, and what, if any, dietary concerns there are and if you will need to make changes to your menu. For example, will you need to make your menu gluten free? If so, you will also need to be aware of any cross-contaminations between non-gluten and gluten dishes. 

Consider what dishes can be made ahead. Many desserts, casserole dishes, and sides are easy to make up or prepare a couple of days before, so all you have to do is place them in the oven before the meal. We recommend making a mashed potato bake recipe.On Christmas day they get popped in the oven and there is no mashing and no mess.

The oven is a popular place and time should be organized beforehand depending on what needs to be cooked, when, and for how long. To save time and space, consider cooking vegetables the day before so you can just heat them up in the oven or microwave right before the meal. Instead of completely cooking vegetables like carrots, take them out early and run them under cold water to help keep their texture and colour. On the day of, they’ll only need a couple of minutes to warm up.

Also important to consider is the look of your food. Aim for colour! Meat and potatoes are all bland colours, so add some bright and vibrant vegetables like Brussel sprouts, carrots, beets, and salad to make your dinner plates pop.

You can even add garnishes to colourless dishes to add colour and texture. For example, green beans with almonds, mixed seasonal vegetables, roasted peppers – a mix of complimentary colours!

Karen recommends a “favourite” salad of hers that includes pomegranate, candied pecans, feta cheese, and maple dressing. This salad is a “colourful and beautiful taste combination” that can be made ahead of time by prepping the ingredients and washing and drying the salad greens the day before.

Simple is always best. Cook dishes that you are comfortable with and have made before. If you are trying something new, do a test run and try the recipe ahead of time so you have a better idea of what to expect the day of.

Beverages can easily be prepared ahead of time. Make sure the fridge is stocked with wine, water, and any other beverages so they’re ready to enjoy at dinnertime.

Last but not least, make sure that your table is ready for the food. You can put on the table cloth (after it’s been washed, cleaned, and ironed, of course) and set out clean dishes the night before if you have a separate table. If not, these items can still be taken out and set aside until the day of, and can be set out when you have time while the dishes are cooking.

A plan of action will help ensure you are prepared and not stressed the day of. Getting steps done ahead of time creates a clean and uncluttered space in your kitchen so you can worry about what’s important on Christmas day: spending time with friends and family, and cooking a perfect turkey!