Now that the election is over, we’re finally turning our attention to the holidays. And with the holiday season a negative feedback loop puts itself in place: we feel we don’t have enough time, which creates stress, which in turn makes your think more slowly, which makes that it takes you longer to complete a task, be less effectively and make more mistakes, which in turns increases the feeling of not having enough time, which increases stress, and so on. You end up feeling rushed, stressed out, overworked, tired, cranky…

This negative feedback loop is however not unavoidable, quite the contrary: it is easy to break, so that you recover the sense of calm, peace of mind and productivity you had (or can have, if this loop affects you year-long.) There are many ways to address it, from planning to stress management to time management, but one very easy way to deal with it is to open time in your day. There is so much time we waste, and just eliminating this waste can create space in your schedule, giving you more time to take care of the holidays and the added projects you have on, even giving you time to rest and relax, interrupting the negative feedback loop.

Here are five easy tips to create this extra time in your day:

• Look at your schedule for the rest of the year. What commitments or obligations that you are not enthusiastic about can you shed? Do you need to go to this organization’s holiday party, even though you don’t really want to go? Do you need to attend all the internal meetings that are on your schedule, or are some unproductive for you?

• At lunch time, take a real break. Go out to walk for a little bit, or even just up and down the stairs. Taking a break from what you’re doing and getting your body moving will rest your brain, re-oxygenate it, and you’ll be more effective in the afternoon. For some of my clients, this daily break makes the difference between leaving work at 5:30 or leaving work at 6:30.

• Whenever someone calls you or comes into your workspace, say “Hi, how can I help you?” or “Hi, what can I do for you?” instead of “Hi, how are you?” This way, you will focus people on the reason they want to talk to you instead of small talk… Most of my clients found that using this simple phrase reduces the duration of their phone calls by half.

• Do not multitask! Multitasking in an illusion; what you are doing when multitasking is really going back and forth between two tasks, having to re-create focus from scratch every time. A recent study actually found that after just 20 minutes of interrupted work (which is what multitasking really is), people report significantly higher stress, frustration, workload, effort and pressure. The same study showed that multitaskers actually worked faster, but produced less…

• Group similar tasks together. For instance, group all your calls together instead of spreading them throughout the day. Each time you want to make a call, you need to take your rolodex, open it to the right page (or bring up the right name if you use an electronic one), pick up the phone, etc. Each of those steps takes just a few seconds, but add them all together and multiply by the number of times you do it in a day, and these can easily add up to a half-hour.

Author's Bio: 

Karin Vibe-Rheymer-Stewart Ph.D., Founder and President of Daily Mastery, and author of the popular Holiday Survival to Holiday Delight guide, is a personal and small business productivity expert specializing in helping clients be peacefully productive and live balanced lives. Working both in person and by phone, Karin’s clientele spans the country and the globe and includes individuals as well as organizations. To learn how to become a peacefully productive Daily Master, go to