Believe it or not, the holidays are again upon us! In fact, as you read this (but not as I write), Thanksgiving is already a memory, and Christmas is almost here. This season of the year is a good time to be a bit more reflective on our blessings and what matters most in life.

It has been a great business year for most of you, and for that we should all be thankful. Many of you have mentioned that it is difficult to find the time to write articles because you are so busy. It’s likely that busyness is also crowding out other more meaningful things in your life as well. Perhaps this holiday season is a good time to consider a few ways to stay productive while reducing the overwhelming busyness that creates stress in our lives.

For many of you, busyness and the accompanying stress is a badge of honor. The hidden message is that I’m so busy because I’m so important. Until cell phones became available to everyone, many with this new technology used them the same way – to seem more important. We are perhaps afraid to slow down because we may miss something. We believe that technology, like cell phones, has allowed us to stay connected and stay “in control.” Maybe it’s really the other way around.

Edward M. Hallowell, a psychiatrist and author ofCrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap,paradoxically notes that it is in part the desire for control that has led people to lose it. He says, “We are like a tin can surrounded by a circle of a hundred powerful magnets. Many people are excessively busy because they allow themselves to respond to every magnet. They think that this is the way they must respond in order to keep up and stay in control, but it’s the magnets that have the control.” Ever feel that way?

Even good things in excess are not beneficial. Overexercising or overeating comes to mind. As Garrison Keillor said after his recent heart surgery, “We humans can’t overextend ourselves forever without paying a horrible price in poor health, damaged relationships and diminished spirituality.” Hopefully, some of us who are overbusy will learn this before needing heart surgery.

So, how can we get some control over busyness and experience peace this holiday season? There are some big-picture ways and also smaller things that we can do. Often it is recommended that we make a list of our core values – the top few things that are most important to you. Many people say family, health and things like that. Then look at all the activities that fill your schedule. Consider removing any activity that is not in line with a core value.

This is essentially prioritization. It is said that if you don’t manage your time, you will never have enough of it. Once you get your values straight, the highest priorities will be handled first, and life doesn’t get overtaken by the unimportant.

Clutter is another big problem in our lives. There are many different types of clutter, but mental clutter – too much to do and too little time to do it – can sap our peace. Sometimes this mental clutter involves dwelling on the past and thinking about the future. Try to imagine that you have everything you need and need everything you have. This frees you to live more in the present and worry less about the past or the future. Voila – more peace.

It is our hope that some of these thoughts and ideas will help you to stay productive in your business while reducing the busyness, allowing you to find some peace this holiday season. And in the midst of the hustle and bustle that the season itself can bring, carve out for yourself a moment of peace and serenity to get in touch with the spirit of the season. You will be all the better prepared for the coming new year. Here’s hoping your New Year is a great business year, but that it is just a little less busy.IH