5 Ways to Prioritize Your Time During the Holidays


Thanksgiving is behind us. We all returned to work this week with full stomachs and a growing to-do list. This time of the year always seems like a whirlwind, in the office and at home. If you are like me, you make a list of all the things you need to accomplish before the holidays and the end of the year, all the events you have coming up, and what you still need to run to the store to pick up. As I make this list, I grow anxious, and at times overwhelmed. We’re busy all throughout the year, but there’s something about the holidays and the coming new year that makes it seem even more urgent. How can we make the most of the last month of 2016? Here are five ways you can prioritize your time, fit in all your holiday activities, and make strides in the office as well.

1. Make a List – “He’s making a list and checking it twice…” we all know how the rest of the song goes. Hey, if it works for Santa it should work for us too, right? We all have multiple to-do lists; one for work, another for home, shopping lists, and more. Keeping lists is a great way to organize your thoughts and get a game plan together. I know it’s a simple suggestion but that’s the beauty of it.

2. Keep a Routine – This time of year is all about traditions; try to keep to your routine as much as possible during the day. This will help you stay focused, especially in the work place. Not deviating much from your normal routine will help you be less stressed and able to work more effectively.

3. Delegate – During this time of the year there is usually family around; or maybe you have/know some kids who are looking to score a few extra brownie points before the big guy in red comes down the chimney. They may not be able to help you with office work, but you can definitely use those around you at home as a resource. One less thing on your mind and your to-do list will help you concentrate on bigger more pressing tasks.

4. Categorize – When you made your list I bet you noticed that some overlap. When working through your list, complete tasks that are related rather than jumping all over the place, it’ll save you time, energy, and even some sanity.

5. Reflect – Another big part of the holiday season is reflecting on the year that was. As you rush to finish all your work, take a moment, step back, and reflect. Take time to evaluate what truly needs to be completed and what can wait until the next year. Some things you will not be able to complete in this short period of time. Recognizing this will help you be less stressed and more successful in completing the projects that are time sensitive.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the season. We all feel pressure from many directions–from work, from our family, and from ourselves. We want everything to be perfect. By taking time to step back and prioritize our work, hopefully the holidays will be less stressful and we will be able to enjoy the season and each other.

Do you have any other suggestions for prioritizing during the holidays? What type of tasks do you have on your to do list in December and how are you conquering them? Let’s help each other create a strategy for the best way to accomplish our goals in this last month!

Not Enough Hours in the Day: Prioritizing and Time Management in the Office

My work day starts at 7:30 in the morning. Some days it doesn’t end until 6 in the evening; and I will take a “working” lunch. Let’s not even get started on the tasks that are waiting for me when I get home. There are so many tasks that need to be completed in a day, literally there are not enough hours in a day sometimes. I know my daily experiences are not unique. We all have busy schedules and wear many hats throughout the course of a day. So how do we fit it all in? What are the best ways to prioritize our precious time?


Make a List

It sounds so simple doesn’t it? To me it always feels good to have a plan, and making a list always makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, even if I’ve yet to complete anything on said list. I feel even more accomplished when I get to cross something off my list! But, you must be organized when making your list. If you do not make a thoughtful to-do list, you will get no where.

Here are key steps to a successful to do lists:


  1. Rank the most important jobs, the one that need done today go at the top. The jobs that need to get done in the next few days come next. The jobs that can wait until next week go at the bottom.
  2. Make the list a “living document;” continue to build on it daily. The tasks that you do not complete that day get moved up to the next priority category the next day. Add new tasks at the bottom. If it helps you can color code your priority levels.
  3. Evaluate your list at the end of each day, and edit tasks priority levels as needed. Doing this will also help you get an idea of how long it takes you complete certain tasks, and assist you in future planning.

If you need help organizing your thoughts and placing tasks into priority category make yourself a priority matrix:

Make a Schedule

So you have your list and have mapped out what is on the agenda for today, but how do you know when you have spent enough time on one task? The simple answer is until it’s done, but we all know sometimes it’s just not possible. You could spend a whole month working on one task related to a long-term campaign. By setting specific time aside and schedulesticking to time parameters will help you fit more diverse work into a day. Assigning specific time periods to work on designated projects will also help you focus your attention. When making your schedule be sure to build in time to take a break and get up from your work so that you do not burn yourself out, as well as add “emergency time” in case of any unplanned issues that may pop up.

Expect the Unexpected

I know some of you have been reading this thinking, “List and schedules are a great idea but they do not fit my job functions”. I’m with you. In some positions you cannot plan how your day will progress in advance. Each day is a little different. There are still ways you can prioritize work as it comes at you, however. Here are some tips for those with positions like mine where the days can be unpredictable and everything is a priority.

  1. Realize you cannot be everywhere at once and it is OK to delegate lesser tasks. One of your colleagues who is available can place the order for the lunch room supplies if you have clients to work with.
  2. Set boundaries in your work. We all want to impress the higher ups, but sometimes you need to just say no. When you are good at what you do many times you can be pulled into others projects because you are reliable. While this is a good problem to have it can cause a lot of stress. If you have too much on your plate speak up.
  3. Be flexible and prepared to be pulled off task. In office settings where priorities are more fluid you’ll need to have good multitasking skills. Do not get irritated when you are pulled off a task for another; some things will need to be left undone or handed off to another.
  4. Teamwork is key. In situations where you may need to hand off tasks to another, try and establish a “we not me” outlook.

Time is precious and fleeting. Find what works for you and your work place, and remember to breathe. Something may have to wait until the next day. As you continue evaluate your work and make a habit of prioritizing tasks, what is important and what is not will become more apparent and you can manage your time more appropriately.

Do you have a technique for prioritizing work and managing time at the office? Share it with us!