11 top tips to get organised for Christmas and feel less overwhelmed

It can often feel like Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year with so much to think about, organise, plan and prepare for. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by everything that’s on your plate (and we’re not just talking sprouts) then here are my 11 organisation tips to feel more on top of things this festive season.

1. Brain Dump

We love brain dumping at The Anti-Burnout Club and it was our very first challenge for De-Stress December this week. Our brains aren’t designed to hold in everything from Christmas shopping lists to Michael Bublé lyrics. 

A brain dump is the simple act of dumping everything from your head down onto paper. It can help us unwind and unravel any thoughts, get rid of stuff cluttering up our minds, and feel less overwhelmed with it all. This is the best place to start! Here’s the full brain dumping guide.

2. Sort through the Brain Dump

Once you’ve got everything out of your head and down onto paper, you’re going to want to sort through your brain dump. I’d really recommend setting aside a little bit of time to go through this so that it doesn’t feel rushed or even more overwhelming. Spending 20 minutes on Christmas planning now will save hours later.

People have all sorts of methods to sort through their brain dumps, but I like to:

  • Put everything with a date on my calendar/in my journal
  • Divide to-dos into different categories (eg, Christmas shop list, food list, stuff to do at home, things to do at work, things to do on Christmas Day, etc). 
  • Quick 5 minute tasks that I can tick off whenever I have some free time, such as writing a few Christmas cards – I also like to try and tick one of these off whenever I’m doing my brain dump
  • And then dealing with any anxieties, fears or triggers left (we covered this recently in our latest challenge too)

3. Put everything on a calendar

As mentioned, one of the best ways to start sorting through your brain dump is to schedule any of the fixed appointments and dates. However, if you’re not going to be brain dumping then you can skip straight to this step instead.

When I say put everything on a calendar, I really mean everything. You can set yourself deadlines (have to have completed Christmas shopping by 18th December) and reminders (don’t forget to bring the sprouts to grandma’s) and any important events. If you want to have a really organised Christmas then a calendar is a must.

4. Useful list and reminder apps

Looking for somewhere to store any of your brain dump or Christmas shopping lists? I like a combination of pen and paper, and then some useful list and reminder apps. The notes app on your phone is absolutely fine for this, or you can look for something a little fancier.

My go-to which I mention a lot is ToDoist which you can use to categorise your brain dump and set reminders. I’ve used this for years now and would be lost without it! I know a lot of people also like Remember the Milk, Things and Any.do. Make your phone work with you, not against you, this festive season.

5. De-clutter (bit by bit)

Out with the old, in with the new! It’s always best to try and get the de-cluttering out of the way before the festivities start but it can feel like a momentous task when there’s always something else to be doing. De-clutter or decorate the Christmas tree? It’s a tough decision.

To make things a little easier on yourself, pick one small area to de-clutter every day in the run-up to Christmas – I mean small! One kitchen cupboard, one drawer, one area of the living room, and so on. Set a timer for 15 minutes and de-clutter your whole house bit by bit. Take unwanted items to the charity shop to get a happiness boost from your little act of kindness too!

6. Break down the big jobs into little ones

In fact, doing everything bit by bit is the key to feeling less overwhelmed at Christmas (well, any time of the year really). What big jobs do you have on your to-do list? One example is doing the dreaded Christmas food shop. 

Instead of doing it all in one go, why not add a couple of non-perishable items to your basket every time you do a regular food shop?

Or instead of wrapping all of the presents at midnight on Christmas Eve (guilty), could you do 1-2 presents a night in front of the TV? 

What big jobs can you turn into smaller jobs split up over the next few weeks? Turn it into a habit!

7. Make festive goals 

To take this one step further, and for those want a super organised Christmas, you can even create your very own festive goals and split tasks into different measurables. Here’s an example:

Goal: Wrap all presents

Action Items: Buy presents from gift list and other supplies, set aside time to wrap each evening

Supplies Needed: Wrapping paper, sellotape, scissors, ribbon

Due: On or before 20th December

I find splitting it into sections like this can make me feel more focused, and the whole thing less daunting. No more, “What do I do next?!”

8. Food prepping

Now, I don’t profess to be an expert in this as I generally forget all about Christmas dinner until the very last minute, which generally means it doesn’t get served up until about 8pm. However, there are plenty of things you can do in advance to make it a lot easier on the day.

If you’re the one in charge of any Christmas cooking this year then I highly recommend food prepping blogs and resources to help you get one step ahead. Someone who has recently been featured all over the news is the amazing Kate Hall who preps her Christmas dinner months in advance. She has a free resource here.

9. Rope the whole family in

If you’re a fellow people pleaser and just want everyone to have a lovely day in sacrifice of your own, then I’m here to tell you to delegate! I know that it can be really difficult when we think we should be doing it all ourselves, but it’s your Christmas too! You deserve more free time to actually enjoy it.

Look through your to-do list and consider who can take on what task. You don’t have to wrap all the presents. You don’t have to write all the cards. You don’t have to do all the cooking. You don’t have to de-clutter the house on your own. Rope in the whole family, and anyone you’ll be spending Christmas with, to share the load.

10. Feeling motivated enough to do it

If motivation is waning somewhat and you don’t know where to start, we have an extremely popular list of 14 handy tips to trick yourself into just getting started… Even on the really boring jobs. Getting started is always the hardest part, but if you can get the ball rolling then you’ll be well on your way.

Try out the two-minute trick or the Pomodoro Method to give yourself a boost of motivation. Or use The Anti-Burnout Matrix to plot out what tasks can be done when, based on your energy levels. You can find them all here.

11. Get on top of your budget

Finances are definitely one of the most overwhelming things for many during this time of year. It can seem like our budget is eaten up quicker than the roast potatoes at Christmas dinner, and it’s hard to know where it all went.

In the next guide coming soon, we’ll be looking at some tips and tricks to make your budget and finances less overwhelming during the festive season – and some cheap and free Christmas gift ideas too.

Finally, remember to make time for yourself. You’re not going to enjoy Christmas Day very much if you’re feeling burnt out and frazzled. Consider what you can do for yourself during the month that will help you feel more rested and recharged, and put it on your calendar as an important date you can’t get out of. Trust me, you need that free time!

I hope you have the most amazing Christmas, however you’re spending it this year.

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