We all know the holiday season brings a whirlwind of activities – gift shopping, decorating, cooking, and attending gatherings – all while trying to meet our own and others’ expectations. It’s easy to become overwhelmed as our to-do lists grow longer and our schedules fill up. But here’s where the Time Protection Tools come into play by addressing overwhelm, one of the core stressors we face this season. The Time Protection Toolset empowers you to navigate the holiday schedule with intention and control, making space for what truly matters.

Time Protection Tools:

  • Audit Your Time: Before the holiday activities ramp up, take stock of your commitments. 
  • Make “Holiday Plans”: Proactively block out any unclaimed time in your calendar.
  • Strategically Schedule Downtime: Deliberately block out periods for rest and unscheduled joy. 
  • Make Holiday Activities Audition For Your Time: Evaluate each holiday invitation and event against your personal priorities. 
  • Craft Polite Refusals: Develop and practice polite but firm ways to decline invitations that don’t align with your holiday intentions. 
  • Embrace Flexibility: Despite the best-laid plans, the holiday season can bring unforeseen changes. Approach your schedule with flexibility and a positive mindset.

Time Protection Tool #1: Audit Your Time

Look at your calendar and to-do list before the holiday activities ramp up (or as early as possible). What do you HAVE to do between now and three days after your last scheduled holiday event? Work hours and projects are likely non-negotiable. However, there may be commitments you can deprioritize until after the holidays. Move what you can to make more space.

Then mark off time for your family, social, and service activities as well. Don’t forget to block off time to prepare for these activities. If you need to cook, shop, create, or simply gird yourself before the event, account for that time, plus a little wiggle room. If you are traveling – mark off that time too. 

Now, take stock of all of your regular and seasonal commitments. This deep dive into how much of your time is already committed is enlightening—it helps pinpoint where you might be losing time to less rewarding activities. Understanding your current supply of non-committed time is pivotal to making conscious decisions about what you add on, preventing holiday overwhelm, and preserving your well-being.

Tip: Chapter 3 offers tools to define and protect your holiday priorities.

Time Protection Tool #2: Make “Holiday Plans”:

A practical step in implementing your Time Protection strategy is proactively blocking out any unclaimed time in your calendar and marking them as ‘Holiday Plans.’ These blocks act as placeholders for your personal time and serve as a visual reminder that you’re committed elsewhere—especially if that commitment is to yourself. 

Tip: Share Your Calendar: If someone else can put things on your calendar, make sure they know you’ve blocked time for Holiday Plans and Downtime. This transparency can help manage expectations and support your time protection efforts.

Time Protection Tool #3: Strategically Schedule Downtime:

Deliberately block out periods for rest and unscheduled joy. These are the moments that rejuvenate your spirit and prevent burnout. By scheduling downtime, you’re committing to self-care and ensuring you have the energy to enjoy the most meaningful parts of the season. After years of scrambling to put my hair into a bun (because I didn’t wash it) and slapping on some makeup 30 minutes before people arrived for Thanksgiving, I started blocking time in the day to take a break and a shower. Getting everything on the table takes orchestration. I usually have an hour-by-hour list of what needs to be prepped, what must go into the oven, and when. NOW I have “get in the shower” on that schedule, too!! This year’s break included 20 minutes to put my feet up and read a book – what a treat! Not surprisingly, I enjoyed this Thanksgiving much more than in the years when I was feeling disheveled and frazzled.

Tip: Use digital calendars to your advantage: Set reminders for your planned downtime. These notifications serve as prompts to step away from the holiday hustle and enjoy a moment of peace.

Time Protection Tool #4: Make Holiday Activities Audition For Your Time:

Evaluate each holiday invitation and event against your personal priorities. Decide what truly resonates with your holiday spirit, and be firm in these choices. Prioritizing is about quality over quantity—choosing events that add to your holiday joy rather than those that fill up your calendar with obligations.

Tip: This post offers decision-making tools to align with your priorities

Time Protection Tool #5: Craft Polite Refusals:

Develop and practice polite but firm ways to decline invitations that don’t align with your holiday intentions. Clear communication about your priorities this season can help manage the expectations of friends and family, allowing you to maintain control over your holiday schedule. 

Tip: If you’ve blocked your calendar with “Holiday Plans” you can honestly answer an invitation with, “I’m sorry, I already have plans at that time.” It is totally okay if those plans are sitting on the couch in your PJs and watching your favorite holiday movie.

Time Protection Tool #6: Embrace Flexibility:

We all learned through COVID-19 that sometimes you don’t have control over how or even if an event is going to happen. Approach your schedule with flexibility. This adaptability allows you to navigate unexpected events with less stress. Revisit your calendar periodically to check if your ‘Holiday Plans’ blocks still serve their intended purpose. Be ready to adjust as needed to maintain the balance between activity and rest – obligation and joy.

Tip: This post has tips to focus on the bigger picture over the holidays.

By implementing these Time Protection tools, you’ll be better equipped to manage your holiday schedule, keeping it aligned with what’s truly important to you. Remember, the holidays are a time for joy and reflection, not stress and exhaustion. In the next chapter, we’ll explore the Priority Protection Tools, taking a closer look at how to define and achieve your ideal holiday season, where every moment counts.

Concluding Encouragement:

Let this chapter be a reminder that you have the power to structure your holiday season in a way that brings peace and happiness. The Time Protection Toolset is not just about managing a calendar; it’s about cultivating a holiday experience that nourishes your soul. Use these tools to carve out time for what you love, ensuring that this holiday season is one of contentment and cheer. These tools go hand-in-hand with the Priority Protection Tools in the next post.

Image by Nile from Pixabay


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