It’s in between Christmas and 2017 and you’re staring down the business end of a messy home and counting the days before New Years Eve sucks up a lot of your energy. Here are three tips for achieving mid-holiday productivity so that you can survive the gauntlet of food, drinks, family, and emotions that is coming your way.

Turn off notifications

Your phone buzzes, beeps and blinks at you.

Lots.

And it feels good when you get a nice little affirmation of your self worth by receiving a text from a friend. The problem is that, while it’s nice knowing we’re special and connected people, there’s a growing body of research showing the quality of each interaction and our overall happiness is diminished as a result of this kind of communication.

It will feel difficult or destabilizing at first, but by simply turning off notifications you take a huge step towards being in control of your environment.

Even though I am as married to my phone as I am to my wife (she doesn’t read this blog), I’m positively impacting my health by turning off notifications for everything but actual calls.

Take stock of your life

Get a notepad and pen or app or whatever you like, sit down with a good cup of tea, and write down every single thing you know you need to get done over the next six weeks. Everything from your personal tasks (dishes, laundry, fixing the leaky faucet, reading the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy again) to professional (paperwork to file, small projects, personal admin, all of it) and then start to organize and clarify.

Personally, I resist this step like crazy and have to deliberately set aside time and force myself into it, but there’s a reason capturing and clarifying are the first steps in the Get Things Done methodology. What gets scheduled gets done, after all.

De-clutter

This one is hard to achieve, but the payoff is huge. I’m a keeper of things, my father is a keeper of things, and I can already tell my kids are all keepers. We assign all kinds of emotional value to stuff and hold onto it for way too long, but we’re slowly coming to grips with the acceptance that, even though toys have feelings in the movies, it’s okay to ditch the Mega Blocks once the kids graduate to Lego.

Here’s the best decluttering process I’ve found. It’s free, straightforward, and if you commit you’ll be clean and lean by New Years Eve.

Each day pick a space (room, part of a room) you can tackle in an hour or two and start physically sorting stuff into categories:

  • Stuff you use all the time – this is the stuff you keep.
  • Stuff you don’t use because it’s broken but you would absolutely use if it worked – fixing this stuff gets added to the list you started up above, and you actually do it; put this stuff somewhere you won’t be able to ignore it.
  • Good stuff you don’t use – this stuff is donated as soon as possible to any good organization that can put it to use. Don’t bag it and put it in the closet in case a friend needs it (e.g. baby clothes…) and don’t list it on Craigslist unless you need the funds and you’re absolutely confident it’ll sell right away.
  • Stuff you keep around that other people probably wouldn’t use either – recycle as much of this as quickly as possible and junk the rest.

My main caution is to avoid bagging stuff with the intention of keeping it for friends or sleeping on it. Be bold, be ruthless and make decisions in the moment. If you spent an hour decluttering, spend the next 20 minutes dropping stuff off at the local thrift shop and avoid tripping over bags of good intentions for the next six months.

Bonus tip – have some pho!

Seriously. Delicious broth, silky smooth rice noodles, fresh sprouts and a handful of herbs feeds the soul! Pho makes everything better and will sooth your hangover and prep you for actually tackling one or all of the tips above.

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