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Managing the Festive Season - Part 2: Managing Time

This is the transcript of Live the 8Wise™ Way Podcast.

Episode Twenty-Eight:

Managing the Festive Season – Part 2: Managing Time

Welcome everyone to the Live the 8WiseTM Way podcast with me, Kim Rutherford, Psychotherapist, author and creator of the 8WiseTM method for better mental health and wellbeing. How are you doing? How are you coping with this festive season? Are you getting all your gifts bought? Are they all wrapped? Is your tree up? Are you hating it? Do you not celebrate it and you’re sick to death of every talking about it? How are you doing?

So, I talked about, in our last episode, issues regarding what the most stressful issues are really around this period of time or really about any form of celebration whether it be Christmas or any other religious celebration or just life celebration in general and the stresses that can come with that and I gave you a few top tips with regards to how you can manage that. I also gave you some indication of why you’re feeling stressed and how it links to adding pressure points to your core eight elements of the 8WiseTM model, or what I call the wellness spectrum.

I get asked an awful lot from people what is the ultimate, biggest stressor and I guess the best way to explain it for most people is as simple as one word – Time. Time is what causes us more stress than anything else because time is something that we always feel like we are running out of, or we’d never have enough time to do. We spend so much time doing stuff that when we have to do extra stuff, we can’t necessarily find the time, or it can feel like we can’t find the time. And so time management becomes probably the number one life skill we all need to learn if we want to reduce the stress in our lives, improve our overall wellbeing, which then helps us to improve or manage our mental health a lot better.

At this time of year it can feel like time is really, really running out. Most of us are forced to take some form of annual leave because our workplace is closed down, many of us are forced to take annual leave because we have to spend time with family or friends, or we have to travel to see family and friends over this period of time and so, actually, we get to that stage where time really does feel like it’s running out, and when we are really stressed about so many things, it can feel, we can feel, so overwhelmed, and when we are really overwhelmed, that also leads to us feeling like we’ve absolutely got no time. So, for me, when working with people, I always focus on getting people to focus on time management above and beyond everything else when it comes to managing stress, you put your basic stress tools and techniques in place, such as breathing, mindfulness, relaxation, they’re your core starting points. But after that, really, if you want to get practical, if you want to get tangible with making some good life skills that are going to last you a long time and really have a positive impact on your stress levels, then really time management is it. So to help with your time management, I am going to keep this short and sharp and straight to the point today so you can head off and you can start implementing your own time management strategies. So, this is going to be a short one guys, make sure you are listening, you’ve got your pens and paper at the ready and you get cracking as soon as I’ve stopped talking.

So, I want you to think about all of the things in your life that you have to do over the next few weeks for the festive period, and I want you to do these three simple things to help keep you stress free for the rest of the month. Number one. The number one thing I want you to do, confirm your dates. I mean your dates for everything. I want it in your diary. I want your diary to say when is the work party, when are you catching up with your friends, when is your last day in work, when are you due to be back in work, when are your travel arrangements, what day and what time? I want you to think about all of the dates that you know you have to think about in order to manage everything this festive period and they all need to be in somewhere. So, think about it, what needs to happen before you break up for work, for example, what from your perspective do you need to have finished, what projects need to be finished, who do you need to talk to to let them know that you’re not going to be there, do you need to send lots of emails out so people know that when you are not going to be there, you need to let everybody within the workplace know when you are not going to be around.

And then you need to manage your time within the workplace to make sure you get everything you feel comfortable getting finished before you head off, but it’s about keeping that real people, keeping that realistic. You won’t be able to do everything so focus on what needs to be done before you break up, and then let whatever can wait, wait. What you should not be doing is any more work when you’ve taken a break from work for the festive period. Enjoy the time. Enjoy it with friends, enjoy it with family. Enjoy doing the things that you do. Even if that’s sitting at home, reading a book, listening to some music, speaking to nobody. It’s all good. But do something that is good for you.

So, confirm your dates, get them in the diary and know what you have to do by those dates. For me, I tend to RAG everything, and RAG is a RAG tool called Red, Amber, Green. That is, for me a red is a harsh it needs to be finished by this date, there is no negotiation whatsoever. Amber, for me would be, oh, it’s ideal to get it done, but you could stretch it and a Green with me would be going, I could have either done it or it can wait. So red is it has to be done. Red, Amber, Green. Red has to be done. Amber it’d be nice to be done, but it could wait. Green, nah, wait until the new year, not a problem whatsoever. But get your dates in your diaries. That’s the dates with regards to work, the dates when you’re finishing, the dates when you’re starting, deadline dates for projects. Know the dates that you need to go and see all your friends then your family, whether it’s going out to your Christmas meal with work. Know when your travel dates are, know what your travel arrangements are. Know all of that. If you have all your dates and they’re all in place, you know what you’re working towards, you can’t get caught out. Put them in somewhere that you use, whether that’s a handwritten diary, on your phone, on a chart, on your wall. Make it clear to yourself what those dates are. Do that as soon as you’ve finished listening to this recording, okay, get your dates confirmed.

When you have your dates confirmed, that’s the hard bit done. Now it gets a bit easier. Now I want you to make a list. Make a list of everything that you need to buy, and if you haven’t already done it, I want you to add another date to the diary. This date is the deadline date of when you are going to buy everything. So, to give you an idea of how I do this for myself is I try to get all of my gifts done by the end of November. I ask everybody in November in my family what they want for Christmas, and if they tell me by the end of November, they will get what they want for Christmas. If they do not tell me, then they will get a voucher to go and get whatever they want for themselves after Christmas because if I don’t work to that deadline date, I cause myself problems. If my family don’t work with those boundaries, then they’re causing me problems. This isn’t me being awkward. This is me trying to get them what they want, what they need at a time that works for me so when I come and see them, I’m not a frazzled pain in the bum.

So number two, make a list of everything you need to buy, and if you haven’t already got it, schedule the time, add another date to your diary to go and do it next week at the latest, next week at the very, very latest, this week if you can. That should ensure then you don’t forget anything, you’ve given yourself enough time to get everything you might need and you’ve given yourself enough time to send anything to anywhere else in the country that you live in or even to another country as well. Because if you’re anything like me and you don’t live near friends and family, I’ve got to send things to the other end of the country and to the other side of the world as well so I need to be really strict on times. I need to be strict on timelines. I need to be strict with myself. Therefore, I need to be strict with the people that I really want to give something wonderful to for Christmas.

After you’ve confirmed your dates, make a list of everything you’ve already got, make a list of everything you need to get. Make sure if you haven’t got it already, you put a deadline date in your diary and if that means also giving a deadline date to the friends and family you are asking what they might want, then do that as well. And if they can’t meet that deadline, then you know what the outcome for that is. They either get the gift they want or they get something towards a gift that they can get themselves in the new year, and that’s on them people, that is on them. If you are clear with your boundaries and make it clear why your boundary is in place and how that links to your value, then people won’t argue with you. They might not understand it, but they won’t argue with you. Mine is, I love my friends and I love my family. I want them to have great things, I want them to have that on time, including the people who live on the other side of the globe, which means that I’ve got to put that deadline in place for you otherwise I can’t work, I can’t function, I can’t get you what you want, when you want it, so I’m working with you, so work with me. So put that boundary in place for yourself as well. Confirm your dates and then make your list and make sure you go and get it sorted within the next seven days.

Then number three sets important dates and times early so you can make sure you get to see these people and do everything you want. It gets to the second week in December, and everybody starts going, oh, when can we catch up for a drink, when can we catch up for a drink, when can we catch up for a meal, when can we catch up, catch up, catch up, catch up. Everybody wants to catch up in the festive period, not everybody wants to catch up the rest of the year, but in December everyone wants to see everybody. If they want to see you, you’ve got to get that planned in place sooner rather than later. So, the way that I do it, I’m not saying you should have to do it my way by the way, you do it the way that you want, I’m just giving you some examples of how I manage my time during this period of time. How I’ve learnt to manage my stress at this period of time, for example, I know I’m going to want to catch up with the majority of my friends, my close friends. So how I do that is I actually have a Christmas Day, a fake Christmas Day where I invite all of my friends and we have a lovely meal together. It’s a proper Christmas day, we have all the trimmings, we have it all. We do secret Santa and we get everybody there and it’s a lovely day and I get them all in one place and I get to give them their gifts, spend some quality time. And I do that quite early in December. So actually, this year it was actually happening at the first weekend of December. So that was the only time we could fit everybody else in but that’s when we did it, we planned it months in advance so people knew that’s what we were doing. We all planned for it. We all did it, and we spent that quality time together all in one place. So that’s number one.

The other thing that I do every year is I really love the people I live on my street with, people who live on my street they’re wonderful, wonderful people. We have such fun together and we really got each other through Covid, we really, really did get each other through Covid. So, I’m always very grateful for that and I want to see them all and I want to be able to spend some time with them so I throw a party, I always throw a party, and I don’t mean a big party, I mean there’s a couple of mince pies and some mulled wine, and people come round to the house, they have a drink, we say hi, we give all our festive duties to each other, we give our cheer to each other, we have some fun and we make some memories. But I book that in as well. I book that in every year, so I know that’s going to be done.

I try to look at all of the important things that I would like to do during the festive period with my husband because it’s very easy to get wrapped up in friends and other family at Christmas and then it could be our direct loved ones or our partners that don’t actually get that quality time as well. So important dates for me are dates where we can go and do festive things together, whether that be going to see a festive show, whether that be a festive walk. I really am a big fan of doing walks, I live near forests and so I’m a big fan of going to the local forests when they put on all of their light shows and that’s what a lot of the forests do at this time of year. So, there’s the Harry Potter one that happens not too far from me, and I’ll go and see the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest one, which is great. I go to Delamere Forest, which isn’t too far from me. We go and see all of their exhibit and it’s just brilliant. It’s a really great way of getting out. We have some quality time together and that always goes in my diary.

Other things when I’m with my family, so I’ve got some family who come and visit me and some family we have to go and spend time with because we can’t just get everybody on the same time, no one lives near each other. So, this year we go and see a show as a family, we’ll all get together as a family, we’ll all go and see this show in London. We’ll spend a lovely time together. We book that six months in advance so we can make sure that day is in the diary. We can make sure we spend that time together and then when my family come and visit me, I don’t want to just be sat in the house the whole time, I don’t see them that often, I want to do lots of things. So, we book in things together as well, whether that, again, that be a show or walk or we go and see a specific film. I’m a big fan of going see the big blockbuster on Boxing Day, so I can’t wait for Avatar Two to come out, I’m an Avatar fan.

So, it’s about setting those important dates. Who do you want to see? When do you want to see them? And then around that, you’ve got the extra dates of, do I want to go to a Christmas party? Do I want to do some of the stuff that’s in my community? And those dates start coming through early as well. Now, this might sound really costly, but a lot of the events that are out there that you can do at Christmas come out early and tend to offer an early bird price. So, it’s important to know what’s happening in your community and get involved if you can, and make sure those dates are in the diary early enough, and I mean early enough, so usually by the end of summer they start coming through.

Get those dates in your diary so as you can see, if you are going to manage your time effectively to reduce the stress that is in your life, it’s all about managing your time. It’s about number one, confirming your dates with regards to everything. Everything you need to do in work, everything you need to do outside of work. Get those dates confirmed, get them into the diary. Do not move them. It’s about making the list of all the things you need to do or need to buy for people and it’s about doing that in accordance with your own values and your own boundaries and time management should be part of your values and it should be part of your boundaries and it should be about knowing that you have to respect your own time if you want other people to respect yours as well, and when you respect your own time, you are then better at respecting other people’s as well.

It’s really important for you to know why you’re putting these timelines in place, why you’re putting these boundaries in place, and be able to communicate them effectively so other people can meet them as well. And if they don’t meet them, that’s on them but there are then ulterior options for what happens. Like I said, for me, if they don’t get their gift list in to me, they don’t get their gift that they want on time. They will get something, but it won’t be what they want on the day and that’s not because I’m cruel, it’s not because I’m harsh, it’s because I’m trying to cater for a lot of people and I’m only one person with only so much time, and therefore I have to be strict with the time that I have. That’s my personal boundary. Anybody who knows me, loves me, will respect it. Make sure that you know yours so other people in your life can love and respect you and yours too. And then it set those important dates, know who you want to spend time with, knowing what way you want to spend time with them. Know how you want to share your time with them and because everybody else’s diary gets booked up, because you respect your diary, you respect the time and diary of somebody else’s. Get that booked up quickly. Get it in early.

I can’t wait, one of the things I’ve booked in this year is to go wreath making with my friends, but also I knew I needed to do some really good networking with regards to work so I found an event that is a networking event by a wonderful, wonderful woman called Lindsay from the Liverpool Ladies Network. An amazing event. If you’re a woman listening to this from the Liverpool area, I do recommend you come to the Liverpool Ladies Network. It’s amazing, they do amazing events, but I’ve decided to kill two birds with one stone. We’re going to catch up with Lindsay and all the amazing ladies, Liverpool Ladies Network by doing their wreath making event with my friends. So, my friends, we’re going to drink some wine, we’re going to make some wreaths, and we’re going to meet some new people and have some amazing conversations. We’ve made that part of our Christmas festivities, and sometimes you’ve got to think outside the box, but set those things, know what you want to do, set those dates, get them in the diary, and then don’t change them. Put them in, boundaries and values matter.

These things sound really obvious, and they are, but when we are frazzled and we feel overwhelmed, they’re not obvious and we don’t do them and before you know it, we’re chasing our tail. We are losing time all the time. We don’t have time to do the things we want and we’re those people getting there at Christmas Eve going I haven’t seen anybody. I’m really, really bad and haven’t got a load of presents for people yet.

So, these three things, they are easy to do even though they’re obvious, they’re easy to do, and we might not do them because we’re already frazzled. So, stop right now. Stop, take a breath, be deliberate in your actions. Make this a conscious change right now to manage your time, to reduce the stress that you might be experiencing or normally experience in the festival, period and put this in place immediately. That’s all I’m going to recommend for you. Confirm your dates, make your lists, and set important dates. And these are brilliant, brilliant, brilliant tips that actually come from an organization called 27 And A Half, I recommend if you do get a chance, go and check out 27 And A Half who focus on an awful lot on time management and I share a lot of their information with a lot of my clients to help them manage their time because they really, really share with people some fantastic tangible practical activities for time management and from a psychotherapist perspective, as I said, a core life skill to learn to manage your stress and reduce the impact stress can have on your mental health, time management is crucial.

So I’m keeping this short and sharp. There you go, that’s today’s episode. Thank you very much for joining. If it is your first episode with me, please hit that like button, subscribe so you don’t miss any others, share, send some comments through, do whatever you’ve got to do so we can reach as many people as possible please. As I say all the time, I set 8WiseTM up because there are so many people in isolation who can’t access therapy who are really, really struggling, and the 8WiseTM model can help them if they can access it, but they can only access it if they know it exists. So, the more you can share everything about the podcast, the more people that can access the information and the information might just be what they need to hear today to make them have a healthier, happier mind, which at the end of the day is the 8WiseTM way.

As I said, as always, you can get the books, all the books to learn more about 8WiseTM if you want to know how to Live the 8WiseTM Way, 8WiseTM Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind is the manual for mental health in the modern world. Alongside that, you can also get the 12-week Journal, the 12 month planner and the 8WiseTM pocketbook, which are all brilliant gifts by the way. Just a little hint there that I’m giving you out. So, if you haven’t got all your gifts people and you’re wondering what to get, go to my website,, check out the store and you can find all the books and book packages there. You can also come along in the new year and join some of my training events that are going to be happening as well. And if you want to get your hands on a really, really good, I guess, what’s the word I’m looking for, a really good bargain. I chose not to do a Black Friday deal because I think Black Friday just adds an awful lot of pressure on people making Christmas more stressful than it needs to be. Instead, I want to lift your mood on the day of the year that you need to lift it the most, which this year will be Monday, the 16th of January. Officially Blue Monday. And on Blue Monday, I have an extravaganza of a fantastic deal for you, so please keep an eye on that. It will be in my newsletter. So, if you’d like to get access to my newsletter, come to the website. You can schedule in to get the newsletter there or check out all of my social media, which you can find me everywhere as either @8WiseKim, or @8WiseTherapy. And I will be sharing lots of information about that extravaganza, which I promise you, promise you, is pretty darn awesome.

You can access a lot of support services and products that are going to help you with your mental health and mental wellbeing, making 2023 the year that you Live the 8WiseTM Way. So check out everything.

Thank you very much for joining me today. Please now pop off and do all of those things I’ve asked you to do with regards to your time management and make this festive period a little bit less stressful for you. Thanks for joining me. My name’s Kim Rutherford, I’m a Psychotherapist, an author, I created 8WiseTM to make everybody have a healthier, happier mind, and I will be in your ear again very soon. So until then, take very good care of yourself and bye for now.

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