Controlling the Chaos

  • Shop for Christmas presents
  • Wrap Christmas presents
  • Finish painting the guest bedroom
  • Make an upholstered headboard
  • Plan menus/groceries for multiple family holiday parties
  • Plan my part of the progressive dinner menu with friends
  • Make cookies for the food pantry where we volunteer
  • Make Christmas cookies for the family
  • Plan for a non-holiday celebration party the week after Christmas
  • Take a business trip to Omaha

I am sure you all have similar tasks to accomplish over the next couple of weeks.  Most of the time I would tell you that I prefer having many things on my to-do list than nothing at all, but this time of year the “have-to-do’s” seem to outnumber the “nice-to-do’s”.  It also does not help the situation when you start a guest room makeover two and a half weeks before Christmas.

Since my youngest left for college the pace of my life has definitely slowed.  The twenty years prior to that I was in constant motion,  working full time, traveling (one year I went to Europe nine times) and raising three  girls who participated in many activities including soccer, competitive swimming, band, orchestra, high school swimming, dance, theatre, competitive dance, cheerleading and other things I am sure I have left out.  Somehow my husband and I even both found time to get our masters degrees.

Now, even though I am still work full time, my evenings tend to be a bit more quiet and relaxed. I have defiantly grown fond of this new lifestyle which is why the frenzy of the holiday season is making me feel totally out of control.  Those of you who know me well can attest to the fact that being “out of control” is not a pretty place for me.  I get anxious, cranky and a little crazy.  My solution to this madness is to resort to what always makes me feel better……list making!!!  I have talked about my list making obsession before (click here to see a prior post) so this should not come as a surprise to you.  For me, it is the only way to get through the holidays.  There is nothing like a good project plan to raise my spirits!

OK, I am not a total geek, I do not build my workplan in Microsoft Project (at least not for my personal lists), a good formatted Excel file or Word table works just fine for me.   I start with four basic columns:

Due Date         Task                 Description/Comment                        Status

After filling up the rows with all the tasks on my plate over the next thirty dates, I then sort them by Due Date.  Although you cannot see it here, I highlighted the header column green and  used a cute font with red lettering for the title just to make it look festive.   Here is a peek at the first few days, the actual list goes well into January.

Christmas Countdown


Due Date Task Description/Comment Status
12/8/11 Work late Month end close Complete
12/9/11 Paint basement bedroom In progress
12/9/11 Purchase comforter for new bed in basement Complete
12/9/11 Attend retirement happy hour for Cindy Bob’s VIP Room(near 75th&Wornall)
12/10/11 Purchase fabric for upholstered headboard White micro fiber
12/10/11 Make headboard
12/10/11 Bake cookies for food pantry
12/10/11 Finish Christmas shopping
12/10/11 Wrap presents

I have organized and controlled my work life and personal life for so long using this method that I am pretty sure I would not know where to start without it.  The presents I wrap may not all have fancy bows on them and I may not get 10 different variety of cookies made but I can guarantee you that everything that actually gets on my list will get done.  It’s just the way I work!

I would love to hear your secrets for getting through this time of year…..

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