It seems everyone these days leads such hectic lives. Between work, housework, running the kids to various practices, it can be hard to find a spare second in the day, let alone a spare couple of minutes. It can be easy to let necessary, yet time-consuming tasks fall by the wayside.
But now the holidays are here, and if you’re like many of us, you have a bit more time on your hands. Of course, this time is to be primarily used for creating memories with family and friends. However, it’s also the perfect time to scratch off some of the things on your To Do When I Have Time list. Here are some ideas to maximize your downtime so you can enter 2018 stress-free.
Set Your Financial House in Order
Unless you’ve already started your holiday shopping, the time is now to make a holiday spending budget. Many Americans spend as much as $1,500 during the holidays between travel, gifts, decorations, and food. This can mean starting 2018 buried in credit card debt. Instead, sit down with the family, and set a limit for spending. Then stick to it!
Also, now is the time for year-end financial planning. If your company only offers certain perks on an annual basis, such as PTO, take advantage of it before it’s gone. Check your 401k contributions, and make sure you’re contributing all you can. But be careful to avoid the tax penalty for excess contributions. The limit is $5,500 per year, or $6,500 if you’re over 50. If you anticipate owing taxes, give what you can to charity now to reduce your liability. Be sure to get receipts for your donations!
Set Up Your Planner for Next Year
Now is the time to get organized for 2018! Purchase a new planner, and write in important dates and reminders. More tech minded? Now is the perfect time to play with new planner apps and other technology that can keep you organized in the new year. Many apps, such as Google Calendar, are free and synchronize across all your phones, tablets and computers. You’ll never miss an important birthday or appointment if you set up free reminders now!
Tackle Those Home Improvement Projects
Holiday downtime is the perfect time to beautify your home and potentially save yourself money in the bargain. Projects like cleaning out the attic or shed, repainting the den, or winterizing your home all keep you busy when time is long, yet the days are short.
Is your house in need of a good, deep clean, but clutter has piled so high you don’t know where to start? Begin by cleaning just one room, or even one corner of one room. Try to tackle the most difficult tasks in the morning, as laziness starts to set in once vacation days stretch out.
Phone a Friend
Long winter evenings are the perfect time for reconnecting with friends and family with whom you’ve lost touch. Instead of just messaging your friends on social media, take the time to give them a call and have a good heart to heart. You’ll both feel better, and your relationship will be stronger. If your friends live close enough, plan a get together!
Start a New Habit
Everyone rushes to make a fresh start for the new year, but why not get a head start on self-improvement while you have the time off to focus on your new habit? Experts say it takes 21 days to start a new habit and make it stick. So, whether you want to start a new exercise program, begin journaling nightly or set aside 10 – 15 minutes for meditation daily, now is the time to start, not when the return-to-work rush begins in January.
Read that Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Winter is the perfect time to catch up on your reading material. Whether you’ve been meaning to tackle a book that will help you succeed at work, or whether you just want to curl up with a book club tome, now is the time. Curl up on the couch, crack open the cover, and enjoy!
Learn a New Skill
If you’ve been meaning to learn how to use a new computer program, a new craft or how to speak a new language, now is the time. You can be well on your way to mastery of a new skill in little time, and creating the habit of practicing will make you want to keep up the habit even after the holidays are long over.
Keeps Kids Busy with Crafts
You’re not the only one with extra time; your kids need ways to keep busy, too! Try keeping them busy with simple crafts, such as using paper bags and crayons to make their own wrapping paper. You can also keep them busy and crafty by helping them to create their own holiday gifts for family members.
Keep Your Body Active at Home
Even if you find yourself snowed in, that doesn’t mean you can’t move your body. Put your iPhone on the speaker and dance around the house to your favorite tunes. Check out YouTube for free yoga videos as well as other exercise videos. Video game systems also offer fun and active games to help you stay busy and fit during relaxed holiday times.
In today’s busy society, our brains are constantly absorbing new information. Technology can lead to a mental overload, and related mental fatigue. Various studies have shown that giving the brain and body time to rest can help us process information more quickly. It also makes us more productive when we return to work. So, there’s nothing wrong with just kicking your feet up and taking some time to just breathe this holiday season!