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5 Things to Do If You Aren’t Celebrating Christmas

5 Things to Do If You Aren’t Celebrating Christmas
5 Things to Do If You Aren’t Celebrating Christmas

Christmas is a great holiday — you get to spend a day with your family, wallowing in nostalgia and familial love, and you get presents on top of that! But what if you don’t celebrate Christmas? What if you’re not Christian, or your family is too far away, or you have no family, or you just aren’t in the mood?

If you aren’t celebrating Christmas, it can be a real drag — most stores are closed, there’s nothing good on TV, and everywhere you go there are constant reminders of the wonderful time other people are having. It’s no surprise that depression spikes around Christmas!

Well, here are a few things you could do to take advantage of the time off Christmas gives you.

  1. Get organized. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, why not make December 25th of every year your day to clean up and get organized? Collect your tax receipts in a box or folder to get ready for tax time, finish off any filing that’s been waiting to be done, throw out old magazines you aren’t going to read again (or at all — you know who you are!), straighten up your office or working area, clear off your bulletin boards, put up next year’s calendar, and just generally get ready for the new year.
  2. Be productive. We run a lot of posts at lifehack .org about dealing with distractions. If you’re not celebrating, though, then Christmas is a day without distractions — unless you lack the willpower to avoid watching that It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas Story marathon on the oldies channel. Fire up your computer and get to work on whatever project’s been sitting on the back burner all year. Start your novel, write your business plan, or email the college buddies you’ve been out of touch with for years. Take this one day that society demands you take off to get started on something new, and let the momentum carry you through into the new year.
  3. Catch a movie, or two, or four. Most movie theaters are open on Christmas day, especially in communities where large non-Christian populations are found. Drive by a theater on Long Island (NY) on December 25th, and you’re liable to see a line around the building! Use the time to catch up on all the latest releases without feeling guilty about anything else you’re supposed to be doing. Go early in the day and catch matinées — you can probably squeeze two or three good ones in without spending too much money.
  4. Volunteer. In a perfect world, you’d be able to volunteer regularly throughout the year but if your schedule doesn’t allow it, at least take advantage of the one day you know you’re free to pitch in at a local charity. Look up local shelters, soup kitchens, or pantries in the Yellow Pages or online and call the day before to see if they can use some help. Leave behind the attitude that you’re offering your time and people should be grateful — you weren’t using that time anyway, remember? Go with an open mind and an open heart, and seriously think about doing this again next week, and the week after, and the week after that…
  5. Do An Annual Review. If you follow the GTD or similar systems, you already know how important regularly reviewing your todo list, projects, and goals can be. Why not take a couple of hours on Christmas Day, when you’re not doing anything else and distractions are at their lowest, to do a yearly review? Leave your daily lists out of this one, and think instead about the “big picture”: what did you accomplish the last year, what are you particularly proud of, what could you have done better, what bridges have you built — or burnt — along the way? What do you want to achieve next year, what projects do you want to start, who do you want to meet or get in touch with, what lessons can you apply to the new year? Really dig into yourself and figure out where you’re headed and what you have to do to get there.

If you’re not Christian, or you are but really don’t care about Christmas, it can feel as if Christmas is forced on you. And you’re right, it’s not fair, especially when you have to get special permission to celebrate your own holidays. But you can spend the day stewing over it, or you can take advantage of the fact that, for whatever reason, you’ve got a day off with minimal distractions — there’s not even mail! What is normally little more than a pipe dream — a day all to yourself! — comes to you all wrapped up with a pretty red-and-green bow.

What about you, lifehack.org readers? Those of you who won’t be celebrating tomorrow, what are you planning to do? How can your fellow readers make the most out of this day off?

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Reference

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