Why not delegate and simplify this Christmas?

We spend a lifetime learning how to delegate. How to make an office run efficiently. How to train new employees. How to expand our effectiveness by passing on responsibility to assistants.
And just when we get good at it, when we’ve finally earned the distinction of being great managers, we wake up one morning and discover we have no one left to delegate to.
It happened to a friend of mine. Over the years she’d effectively supervised scores of employees. But then one day, she retired and the first thing her spouse said was, “I just want you to know that I’m not one of your employees.”
And that’s the way it usually is. The opportunity to delegate is the first thing to vanish in so-called retirement. I suspect that may be one of the reasons so many people seem to feel so rushed this side of 60.
There are clothes to pick up at the cleaner. Vegetables to plant. A lawn to tend. Volunteer work. Part-time work. And clutter to clean up in your garage.
By the time you do all those things by yourself, you are bushed.
So time management is important after retirement—and it’s never more important than around Christmas.
For many people, Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. There’s so much to do. Shopping for gifts and wrapping them. Tidying up and decorating in and out. Spreading the long, long table and carrying chairs from everywhere in the house.
Besides that, Christmas is the one time of the year when you want everything “perfect.” And perfection exacts a price.
In his book “How to Delegate,” Robert Heller says that the hardest part of managing is being in charge of everything. So why not delegate?
If you think you have no one to delegate to, think again.
Begin with your family. Ask one person to take charge of one function, like addressing the Christmas cards or making a special dessert. Peeling the potatoes or putting up the Christmas tree.
If they agree and if you want them to help next Christmas, “let go” of the task. Don’t micro-manage.
If time is more important to you than money, let the cleaner press your shirts and hire someone to wash your windows.
But even more important than delegating is simplifying. Send fewer Christmas cards. Buy your dessert from a deli. Do fewer decorations. And simplify your shopping.
A recent Australian study found that 60 percent of Australians hate Christmas shopping. This attitude is probably universal, so be creative.
Get away from the crowds and shop over the Internet. Most companies will gift-wrap and mail your presents for a small fee.
Or shorten your gift list. Start a tradition of drawing names with family members.
And next year, get a head start on your shopping so it doesn’t overwhelm you at the end. Follow the tradition of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. An extremely organized woman, she bought gifts throughout the year and stored them in a “Christmas Closet.”
So this year, keep Christmas simple. Don’t try to do everything yourself. And this just may be your best Christmas ever!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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