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Organize + Energize: 5 Ways to Survive the Holidays

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Are you planning on having a stressful, chaotic, and unprepared holiday season this year or are you going to coast through well organized, with your sanity intact? It’s a choice you can make and believe it or not, you can have control over your stress during the holidays. Granted, there are situations that will arise that you can’t control, but wouldn’t it be great to control what you can? 

Here are 5 things you can do now to reduce holiday stress:

Clear the mental clutter. Grab a pen and paper. Think about all of the different categories you need to focus on during the holidays. You may have menus, gifts, home décor, cleaning, and any other categories. Dedicate a piece of paper to each and it’s time to dump your brain and clear the mental clutter. Take it one category at a time and just start writing things you need to get done in each category. Don’t worry about putting it in any time/date order; just release the mental clutter and jot things down.  Once you get everything written down, then you can go back and give things a timeline. 

Use a calendar. Check the lists you’ve created and now it’s time to plug items into your calendar. Create timelines so everything flows. Start delegating and transferring responsibility to other family members where you see fit. Don’t forget to add the little things like cleaning the house, exercise, food shopping, and regular day to day activities into your calendar.

Start creating to-do lists. Once you’re finished filling in your calendar, now it’s time to create daily to-do lists from the categories you’ve created. Every Friday, take a look at your calendar for the week ahead and create a daily to-do list. You’ll be able to see your entire week in front of you. Plan your errands around where you’ll be that week so you’re as efficient as possible. Plug your tasks into your week and get stuff done!

It’s never too soon to plan. You may be thinking that you have plenty of time to get stuff done. Don’t procrastinate and wait until the last minute. The last minute will arrive and there will be other things to do. Start planning now and you’ll be way ahead of the game, which will alleviate much of your stress. 

Simplify. Don’t make the holidays more complicated than they need to be. Take a look at what you’ve done in the past. Can you simplify anything that you’ve done in previous years? Keep things simple. 

You may be saying, “I’m so busy. When will I find the time to do this?” If you make it a priority, you’ll find the time to do this.  Put this on your to-do list for this week and tackle it. Think about the end result. You’ll have a stress-free holiday season and will actually get to enjoy the holidays with your sanity intact!

Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, is an organizing & efficiency expert and owner of Organizing in RI. Kristin teaches her clients that living an organized lifestyle will save them time and money, decrease their stress levels and help them become more efficient and productive. Her articles have been published in local and national magazines. Kristin's CD, Organizing Basics, is a 1-hour guide for the person who wants to get organized but doesn't know where to begin. She is also available for organizing workshops.


Related Slideshow: 10 Minute Organizing Projects

Declutter and Organize

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As you take all of the spices out of the cabinet, check for expiration dates and smell for potency. Categorize and itemize your spices to how you utilize them. Contain them in a spice rack that fits the space where they are kept. Don’t purchase a spice rack until you are finished organizing. You want to measure the space and make sure the rack fits and holds all of your spices. There are a variety of spice racks out there. Choose the one that best suits what you need it to hold.

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How many items do you touch in the morning to find what you need?  You want to be as efficient as possible in the morning and having your makeup organized will be a big time saver. Do you have difficulty deciding what to keep or toss? When is it time to throw away makeup?  Aline Sarkis, a Providence, RI-based makeup artist, states lipstick can be used for 2 years or until it starts to smell like a crayon. Mascara is good for 2-3 months. Eye shadow is good for 2 years and foundation is good for 1-2 years. Aline also states that some makeup and skincare will be marked with an expiration date of 6-12 months. Begin counting once you start using the product

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Women: Purse

Depending on the size of your purse, and what you keep in your purse, this may take you a little longer than 10 minutes. Empty the entire contents of the purse on a table. Declutter, categorize, and itemize the contents. Break this process  down and take it one category at a time. Develop a system going forward so the inside of your purse doesn’t look like a cyclone hit it. Contain receipts, gift cards, money, and makeup.

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Men: Wallet

It’s time to empty all of the receipts out of your wallet. Do you also store receipts and random items in your car? While you are tackling this project, head over to your vehicle and declutter the center console and glove compartment.

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Underwear drawer

If you aren’t using drawer organizers, you should start now. They are very inexpensive and will maximize the space in the drawer. How many of you wear the same item over and over again? With drawer organizers in place, you will be able to see everything you own and can categorize and itemize. Nothing will ever get pushed to the bottom of the drawer again.

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Under the bathroom sink

If you haven’t taken everything out of this area in awhile, you may find some scary items under the sink. Empty the contents, itemize, and categorize. Throw away anything that you can’t recognize. Contain items in containers that fit the space like a puzzle. Once again, utilizing containers will maximize the space and allow you to store more items. Develop a simple system where you can locate items and locate them quickly.

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Ninety percent of my clients have a pet. It’s time to organize their belongings. Medicine, leashes, bandanas, clothes, dishes, food, etc. Take this time to also organize any paper work related to your pet. Set up a filing system for your pet. Keep their medical records, rabies and vaccination information categorized in these files.

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Junk drawer

Nobody says you can’t have a junk drawer. Junk drawers can be organized. You just have to think about if you need everything in this drawer and if there is a better place to store the items. Remember, store like items together. If you have tools in the junk drawer, maybe you should keep them with the tools in the basement.

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Office supply drawer

So many people have office supply drawers that are out of control. Money is wasted on purchasing duplicate office supplies. It’s very difficult to figure out what you need to purchase if items are scattered all over the office and are disorganized.

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Top of your office desk

If you can’t see the top of your desk, take this time to focus on this area and categorize and itemize what is there. Do you have a working filing system in place?  If so, once your desk is cleared, make a habit of filing once a day or a couple of times a week. If your system isn’t working for you, it may be time for you to re-evaluate your system and make it work for the way you function.


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