The holidays are designed to be a magical time of year, filled with time spent with loved ones relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. But for so many of us, the holidays turn into a time of rushing, stressing, and enduring. Instead of enduring the holiday season, you can enjoy it. All it takes is a little bit of preplanning and prep using the 4 W’s to guide you. Here’s what I mean:

Why: Why is this time of year important to you?

Asking why, both as you’re planning the season and throughout, will help you focus on those activities and people that matter most to you. To begin, ask yourself why do we celebrate the holidays? Why is it important to me? Your goal is to get to a list of reasons and values—those things that matter most to you this time of year. With this vision in mind, move on to the next W.

What: What activities support this vision?

There are so many options for things you can do to celebrate the season: sending cards, giving gifts, attending parties, hosting your own get-togethers, decorating your home (inside and out), etc. Which of these activities support your reasons for the season? Don’t feel as if you have to do everything you’ve always done in the past. Instead, give yourself permission to simplify your to-do list so you can enjoy instead of endure.

Who: Who can help?

Repeat after me: I don’t have to do it all. I don’t have to do it all. Then, once you feel yourself embracing this idea, ask yourself who can help me? What tasks can your spouse or children do to relieve your holiday to-do list? My kids loved helping me wrap gifts, even when they were very young. My reason for the season—enjoying time with my loved ones—trumped my desire to send out perfectly-wrapped gifts, making this an easy one to say yes to. If you start to resist getting help, go back to your reasons for the season to see if your decision is in alignment with your vision.

When: When will it get done?

At this point you have your vision for the holiday season, your to do list of activities and tasks that will bring your vision to life, and (hopefully) a list of holiday helpers. All that’s left to do now is pull out the calendar and decide when you’ll do each task and activity. Schedule the mission-critical activities early along with tasks that you don’t enjoy doing. Build in a nice cushion in the weeks just before the big holiday. Use this time to take care of unexpected activities or tasks, and to sit back, relax and enjoy the season.

At this point there’s just one last W question to answer: When will I get started? I’ll help you with this one: how about today? The earlier you start, the more likely it is that you’ll enjoy the holiday season.

Do you normally create a plan for your holiday season? How did it go for you? Please share in the comments below.

Happy planning!


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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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