Time Management Strategies for the Holiday Season (12.16.12 WBR TV Segment Follow-Up)

Marissa Levin
Marissa Levin
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My December small business segment on ABC’s Washington Business Report focused on general, personal, and professional time management strategies. I have many more strategies than I could cover; I’ve included all of them here. 



During business hours, reduce SM time that is not connected to your business goals.

Social Media time suckers

There are some things you can do right now to regain potentially lost time online:

  • STOP ALL NOTIFICATIONS – email and mobile.
  • Go into settings and turn off group notifications.
  • Unsubscribe from groups
  • Don’t respond to events/invites
  • Don’t respond to pokes
  • Don’t play the games

(Yes, I do all of these.) 


This is a great tool. Activate an auto-responder that says something like this: “Thanks for your email. I’m offline until 4:00. I will return messages at that time. Have a great day.” And then don’t check email until 4:00.


Francisca Alonso who owns AV Architects (http://www.avarchitectsbuild.com/) and is a mom to four kids, subscribes to “smart scheduling.” “I have learned to assign hours in the day to tasks and stick with it; Monday is accounting, Tuesday is marketing, Wednesday and Friday are Client Work Days,” she says. She explains that you have to be flexible, but at least this thinking provides a framework.

Terry Monaghan, Owner of Organizing for Your Life (http://www.organizingforyourlife.com/), suggests that you “create a template for your day. Approach how you allocate your time the way an Olympic athlete would approach their training. Always, always focus on your area of brilliance, and delegate the rest.” Terry specializes in time management and can help you get organized. 


Say “no” to committees, groups, coffees, lunches, dinners, happy hours, Chair positions, and anything else that strokes your ego by putting you in the spotlight at the expense of your sanity. Sanity trumps ubiquity any day.

“No” is a complete sentence.

Question from Tracie Rosales, Owner of Make-Up Artistry by Tracie (http://www.tracierosales.com/):

“With so many holiday events and networking invites, you can’t go to everything and get a work day in. Do you go to events where you know majority of the attendees so that they keep you in the front of their mind. Or go to events with new prospects?”

Answer: “You are correct that we can’t be everywhere. So we need to make our decisions and then not second-guess them. It depends on your goals. If you know strategic customers will be present, it’s important to feed those relationships. If you are choosing between friends (people you know) and qualified prospects (people you don’t know), it depends if your goal is social or business. All decisions we make inevitably link back to our desired outcomes. No right or wrong answer… just do what leads you to your desired end.”


Judy Freeman, CEO of ActionCoach (http://www.actioncoach.com/judyfreeman), says it’s important to pay attention to your own productivity cycle. “Ask yourself ‘What’s my most productive time of the day?’ Then, schedule that time of day for working on your most important tasks or activities.”

In addition, Freeman says to “make sure that you spend time regularly on the ‘important but not urgent’ activities that align with your goals. Otherwise, you will constantly be working and not making the progress that you want to make.”


S. Lynn Cooper, Owner of Socially Ahead (http://www.sociallyahead.com/), relies on realistic lists to get her through her priorities. “At the end of the day, review what you’ve done and make a new list for the next day. In order of importance.”


One of my sanity-saving strategies is to “ink it when I think it.” Ideas are racing through my head at 100 MPH. As soon as I think of a task – no matter how small, I write it down or record it. Do I need to email someone, call someone, or schedule a meeting? I make a note as soon as I think of it.

I also use a list for priorities.  On the iPhone I religiously use the note pad and microphone feature to record ideas, tasks, and priorities. Then I can auto-send them to myself.

At conferences or networking events with speakers, I use the notepad speaker for notes, and then I email myself the notes when the event concludes.


Business Strategies

In your business at this time of year:

  • Expect a slower pace. People are taking time off. It will be more challenging to schedule internal or external meetings. Rather than getting frustrated, provide multiple meeting time options, including some after the first week of 2013. 
  • Expect confirmed meetings to get postponed. People often compress too much into the year-end schedule. As a result, some things may get bumped. You may not be everyone’s top priority. Don’t take it personally, and just go with it. 
  • Don’t try to squeeze everything into year end.
  • Attending networking events? You don’t need to stay for the whole thing. Make an appearance, and stay for as long as it works for you. 

 Personal Strategies


  • Expect delays.
  • Expect traffic. If you’re running late, don’t stress out.
  • Cluster your appointments to minimize driving.
  • Do Skype calls and conference calls in place of in-person meetings, if possible. 
  • Avoid high traffic areas at all times – mornings, afternoons, and evenings. It will be crowded around the clock. 
  • Say NO.
  • Stay healthy. Get enough sleep, eat well.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Exercise.
  • Meditate – even for a few minutes. My spiritual coach is Richa Badami, owner of Anahatha. She provides free guided meditations for download from her website (http://www.anahatha.com/). Richa is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself.
  • Eat right. Avoid the high carbs, sugar, and caffeine late at night
  • We have a tendency to eat at a later hour during the holiday season, and this can throw off our sleep cycles. Monitor your intake. 

Protecting your energy:

  • Negative thoughts turn into negative energy and wasted time.
  • Don’t get sucked into other people’s drama. Say NO to drama.
  • Avoid negative people.

If you are struggling (holidays are a time of greater depression, stress, sadness, money worries, loneliness, sadness if missing people):

  • Remember that all things pass. All things impermanent.
  • Remember that all people struggle.
  • You are stronger than you think you are.
  • Keep focused on small steps and goals to get to the larger goals. One foot in front of the other.
  • Try for an attitude of gratitude. 
  • Your time and energy is never more valuable then when we are pulling ourselves out of a challenge.
  • Rely on others for support.

To see the ABC Washington Business Report segment, please visit: 


Wishing all of my supporters a holiday season that brings you peace. 

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