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Blog: Simplify Your Life
Tis The Season For Compromise

The holidays are supposed to be a time of peace and joy -- but that just can't happen when you feel as though you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. If celebrating the season stresses you out, perhaps you need to let go of the "superhero" role you're used to taking on during the latter part of the year. Here are a few suggestions for lightening your load (and giving yourself a break!) during the holiday season.

Find Someone Else To Do It

In an earlier post, I talked about creating a holiday "not-to-do" list (hopefully, you've already put yours together for this year). Of course, some things you don't want to do still have to be done -- but that doesn't mean they have to be done by you! Start by sitting down with your family and comparing everyone's "wants" and "don't wants" for the season. This is the time for a little bargaining. If you love baking and shopping for presents but can't stand dealing with the tree, see if your spouse or kids have decorating marked as a priority on their lists. At the very least, you might be able to hand off a despised chore to someone else who feels neutral about that task. The holidays are an excellent time to learn the fine art of negotiating!

If you decide as a group that you really want a particular activity to happen this season (but no one is willing to accept the responsibility), consider hiring someone else to do it for you. If you enjoy having the house decorated but hate putting up lights and garland, find a florist or interior designer that can take on that particular chore. If you don't like cooking, have your holiday meal catered, buy a pre-cooked meal from the local deli, or eat out. If you love giving goodies to friends but don't have time to bake, buy "homemade" sweets from the local bakery. Hire a housekeeper to give your place a good cleaning before your out-of-town guests arrive. Get a virtual assistant to mail out your cards. In this age of convenience and service-oriented businesses, I guarantee that you can find someone who is willing to take on almost any seasonal "obligation" for a fee!

Don't Make It A Chore

For many, the holidays have become nothing more than an intensified "to-do list" -- filled with chores like baking, shopping, wrapping, and visiting. No wonder this season stresses people out so badly! But it doesn't have to be that way -- it's all about perspective. Do you remember when you played the "clean up your room" game as kid? You rushed around trying to see how quickly you could get everything put away -- or  you sang and danced while you straightened up. Cleaning was fun, until you learned to look at it as drudgery -- something to be tolerated, something that "had" to be done but wasn't in any way enjoyable.  

Seasonal tasks are the same way. At our house, we turn every holiday "chore" into a party! We have a house decorating party, where we invite our friends to help out, put on some Christmas music, and give everyone spiked eggnog. We take our holiday cards to the local Starbucks and spend a very pleasant afternoon listening to carols, drinking hot cocoa, and chatting as we write out our holiday greetings. My husband and I even compete to see who can get their gifts wrapped the fastest (just like when we were 6 years old -- we've never really grown up!) The point is, you can make anything fun, if you create the right mood and adopt a positive frame of mind. So think about how you can put a cheery spin on at least one "chore" this year -- you might be surprised what a good time you have!

Lower The Bar

In a world where we seem to think that perfection can be attained if we just work hard enough (and I speak from personal experience), we often feel a tremendous pressure to outdo ourselves each year during the holidays. We want to buy more gifts (or more expensive gifts) than last time, to host the most elaborate party of the season, to make the house look more festive than any other on the block. But in the process of trying to outdo both ourselves and everyone else in the world, we end up missing out on the real meaning of the holidays. We no longer have time to spend with our loved ones, to reflect on the year's accomplishments, to spend quiet time by ourselves -- because of this insane quest to create the perfect holiday.

This year, why not be a little bit realistic about your holiday? Accept right from the start that things may not go perfectly -- that the harder you try to mold your holidays exactly as you had planned, the less likely they are to cooperate.  And understand that many times, less is more. Instead of attending a different party full of strangers every night, why not pick two or three gatherings where you will be surrounded by people you love? Rather than planning a seven-course meal serving 75 people, wouldn't a small potluck dinner with your ten best friends mean more to you? Do you really need to buy dozens of gifts for your kids, or would they be happy with just a few things they really wanted? Maybe this year, it's time to focus on the quality of your experiences instead of the quantity.

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posted on: 12/21/2010 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Simplify Your Life

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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