Christmas season is a stressful time of the year for me. Work is busy as deadlines get tighter as the holidays get closer. Everybody seems to have their shopping wrapped up by Black Friday – or sometimes sooner. And money seems to disappear faster than it arrives.
Is it possible to stay focused?
Five years ago, I would have answered no – but today's connected world offers tons of resources to stay on top of everything that needs to be done before The Big Day. Let's dive into some of the tools available to us at any given moment, thanks to the power of smartphones.
Task manage with Trello
Trello is arguably one of the best task managers available these days. I use it to keep track of all of my tasks at work and at home. Using Trello's boards enables me to set up and separate my tasks by location or urgency.
Trello keeps me focused at work by helping me visualize my daily tasks to better understand where my priorities should be. It also helps me at home by letting me plan my meals or keep track of who I have to buy Christmas gifts for.
If Trello helps you in December, it will prove to be useful in the new year too as you start planning your new year's resolution. Trello is free forever but some features are only available in the paid version.
Stay focused with Do Not Disturb
Sometimes the most important tools are the ones already available to us. This is especially true with built-in Do Not Disturb functions on smartphones. Turning on Do Not Disturb gives you the opportunity to take a break from the world by turning off distracting text tones or vibrations.
It also keeps you from getting interrupted by phone calls, so you can stay focused in a meeting or while shopping for the perfect gift. This is especially helpful if you're planning to take some vacation time later this month and need to be more focused at work to fulfill your commitments.
I have my Do Not Disturb set up to certain tasks or time periods. This keeps me less distracted in bed or at work, so I actually stay productive and healthy.
I'm even using Do Not Disturb on my iPhone right now, because I'm too close to my deadline and I need to submit this story on time!
Track your spending with Mint
The scariest part about the holiday season is not knowing how much money you have. Budgeting is a dream everybody has but isn't a luxury everybody gets to enjoy. Mint looks to change that.
Mint is Intuit's super-powered personal budgeting app. What I like about Mint, compared to other apps, is Mint connects with my bank account in an intelligent way.
It automatically categorizes the majority of my transactions, and it learns how I categorize obscure transactions. That means if I put my Apple Music or Spotify bills into a "music streaming" category, it will learn from that and automatically categorize those purchases in the future.
Keep on top of your mood with Daylio
Daylio is an app I found when I was feeling lonely after moving to a new city. I left behind a lot of friends, and it was kind of draining. Daylio gives me a lot of insight on what's stressing me out by highlighting what I need to focus on.
The app is super simple to use. It asks you how many times you want to check in every day when you first set it up, and then it sends you notifications at scheduled intervals. It typically takes me less than five minutes to check in to Daylio.
I choose a few tasks and tell the app how my mood is. Over time, it learns which tasks improve my mood and which ones make me more frustrated. Spending money might have a negative impact on my mood, while video games or movies might have a positive impact.
Once I have enough data, I can see trends and start making plans to see friends or take a short vacation to improve my mood.