Every year, former procrastinators, we make our Christmas calculations for two reasons. The first is to prompt ourselves to get right to work because we have less time to prepare for Christmas than we anticipate. The second reason is so that we will have the margin to enjoy this season. We say “yes” to being blessed by God and to being used by Him to bless others.
Follow these steps to get a realistic perspective on the time you have:
- When do you need to be ready?
- Write down all the things you want and need to do. Highlight the priorities. Make a reasonable estimate of the time required to accomplish each.
- Literally count the days on the calendar between now and your Christmas celebration.
- As far as you can tell, count the useable work days/hours available to you. These will be fewer than the count in number 3. I’ve learned to omit Sundays and days with sizeable commitments.
- Is the number of days or hours available to you sufficient for all you desire? Adjust by choosing to focus on priorities. Simplify and eliminate.
- Check for margin so you avoid putting yourself and others in a bind.
Margin makes the difference in whether or not we enjoy the season. It provides rest, cushion for the unexpected. We create margin by allowing more time for tasks and more time between tasks. This often means paring down the number and scope of tasks. With margin we
- Are able to focus on Christ, the very reason we celebrate
- Are able to think of other people – not just managing those in our care but interacting thoughtfully with them. When we’re pressured, we pressure our children and get snappy with them.
- Have the bandwidth to reach out to others beyond our home
- Avoid self-inflicted pressure that diverts us from gratitude and joy
- Pace ourselves which calms our brains, bodies, and attitudes
- If we even unintentionally make idols of our traditions, decorations, activities and the trappings we so enjoy, we slip into exalting the wrong thing. Misplaced worship creates stress. Focus on Jesus relieves stress. Margin helps us remember Him.
How will you build margin into your calculations?