Photo: James Bombales
It’s the most wonderful time of the year — or is it? For many of us, the upcoming holiday season brings far more stress than merriment. Shopping for gifts puts a sizable dent in your savings, fitting in a workout is nearly impossible, and deflecting your family’s questions about your dating life makes you consider a career in public relations. But adopting new habits now can help you stay organized and productive when the holidays roll around. In fact, you may even begin to feel some of that holiday cheer people are always going on about.
To find out which habits lead to a healthy and happy holiday season, we tapped Jane Stoller, a life-biz organizer and founder of Organized Jane. Keep scrolling for her five holiday habit hacks.
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1. Clean out your closets
Photo: James Bombales, design by Jo Alcorn
“I always recommend doing a quarterly overhaul of your closets,” says Stoller. “The closet is the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning — it’s the first opportunity where you can either lose time or gain time. If you waste 10, 20 or 30 minutes in your closet every morning, that can really impact the rest of your day.” Editing your wardrobe makes it easier to pick an outfit for the office holiday party, and donating those items to charity is a fulfilling way to give back.
If you’re looking to treat yourself this holiday season, Stoller suggests investing in velvet hangers. “They’re space-minimizing and they look nice! Velvet hangers won’t bend your clothes out of shape like wire hangers will.”
2. Prioritize productivity
Photo: James Bombales
“There’s a difference between being productive and being busy,” explains Stoller. “I like to use this time management cube I bought on Amazon — you can set it for 5, 15, 30 and 60 minutes.” Allocating a certain amount of time to complete a task can help you stay motivated. Doing the dishes seems like less of a chore when you’re trying to beat the clock. “It’s also great for kids,” says Stoller. “They’re going to be home on holiday break and you might want to limit their screen time. This cube can help with that.”
3. Evaluate your purchases
“A common organizing mistake people make during this time of the year is buying too much stuff, and then they buy more stuff to put it in,” says Stoller. Before you head to The Container Store to pick up a set of ornament storage boxes, take inventory of what you already have. Could you use egg cartons or Solo cups instead? The same goes for gift buying — it’s okay to avoid the consumerism craze associated with the holidays. “I love organizing things, but it’s useless if you’re just going to store these things for 10 years and not really use them,” says Stoller.
4. Keep track of your receipts
If your receipts are stored in a drawer that’s overflowing and refuses to shut, you may want to consider an alternative solution. “During this time of year, it’s important to start digital organization with receipt tracking,” notes Stoller. Her go-to is an app called Neat that allows users to capture and upload photos of paper receipts, forward online receipts to a personalized email address, and organize them into folders that are stored on the cloud. The software scans the receipts for important info and does the expense tracking for you.