I believe Thanksgiving is the ideal time to begin reflecting on the year that has almost ended and to start making plans for the year ahead. This is when we should focus on getting our house in order, both physically and mentally. Yet, I always find this time of year is paradoxical. It should be the when we have our “down time.” With these shorter days and longer evenings, our internal clocks tell us to work less and spend more time relaxing with family and friends, or (I wish!) catch up on sleep.

But the reality for many of us is that we are entering not the quietest but the busiest time of the year. We barely get a chance to relax at all and by January 1st we are ready to collapse. There is just too much to do between Thanksgiving and the New Year—shopping, cooking, decorating, planning, preparing, cleaning up, attending parties and school recitals, and, and, and… Plus, you still have a business to run and projects to finish and next years budgets to fight for.

When you are pulled in a hundred directions at once, here are five simple tricks that will help you stay balanced and make it to 2015 gracefully:

  1. Make a list. I call this a brain dump. If it’s out of your head then you don’t need to worry about forgetting it anymore. Mark it down on your calendar or add it to your electronic scheduler and set a reminder. Once you’ve completed something, cross it off the list! That sense of accomplishment is good for your sanity.

  2. Set realistic expectations. Each day, either at night or first thing in the morning, set aside a few minutes and decide what needs to be done within the next 24 hours. Follow my Rule Of Five: plan to do no more than five things in a day. If you have to go out to run errands, try to keep it to three stops or less so you don’t end up running around all day long.

  3. Decide what is most important. Prioritize the five things you are going to do each day and finish the most important one first. Money generating tasks come first. That way it’s done and out of the way.

  4. Ask for support. Your mother can pick up the kids a few more times this month and your spouse can stop at the market to grab last minute items. Take advantage of car pool offers, too. Minutes you aren’t driving are minutes you can be finishing an item on your list. Don’t forget to use these magic words: “You can support me best by…” Or, “I’d love it if you will…” Remember to be specific. “Help me or do your part” is too vague and no one will ever do what you want them to. Try this instead: “Please finish the Excel spreadsheet for the budget today by 3pm.”

    5. Be thankful. Stop every day for at least fifteen minutes. Mediate, have a cup of tea in a pretty cup and saucer, or savor a glass of wine in the evening. Remind yourself of your blessings and focus on the positive. And don’t forget about your clients and colleagues who have lifted you up over the year. Why not let them know you are thankful for them, too? This article has some great ideas for how to say thanks.

    I hope these tips help you navigate the busy holiday season. My holiday wish for you is to stay in balance and enjoy this special time of the year!

Thank you for making me a part of your world and for all your great comments and feedback throughout the year. It means so much to me. Happy Thanksgiving.

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