"STYLE Savvy: The Season of Piles" by Lisa Hess (CatholicMom.com) Via Pixabay (2011), CC0 Public Domain

'Tis the season for piles -- at least at my house. Some piles are good (piles of presents), some not so good (piles of papers to grade). Augmented by the duties of the season, my lists are longer and more diverse than usual, too. The day-to-day responsibilities haven't decreased, but the duties of the season keep piling up, giving me the feeling I'm on a treadmill of productivity: always moving but going nowhere fast.

It's easy to get overwhelmed and self-critical.

While I have no magical solution to a quick dispensation of the pile-up, I do have one strategy that helps me keep my sanity.

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Each day, I try to make things just a little bit better.
It's not a good short-term strategy, in that the piles diminish slowly, and some stacks overstay their welcome by days, or even weeks. But, then again, losing my mind over a little clutter isn't a good strategy either.
Each day's list contains two kinds of items: time-sensitive tasks and preparations for the season. Intermediate deadlines are sprinkled in, too, as the day's schedule permits, so I can tackle them before they become time-sensitive.

In some ways, this is akin to burning the candle at both ends; on one end, I have the "do it now" things and on the other the end the planning pieces that will make Christmas special and fun, or, perhaps, set up my break between semesters to be both productive and relaxing. Some days, I feel as though I'm standing in the middle of the candle, trying to avoid the flames closing in from both sides, but most days, tackling both kinds of tasks minimizes the panic of the lengthy holiday to do list and gives me a sense of accomplishment as I check a variety of tasks off my list.

Would I love to see my house pile-free? Absolutely. But, unless a magic wand materializes, I'm going to have to settle for baby steps, reminding myself of what I say here so often.

It's a process.

And, when you think about it, not such a bad way to approach life in general.

Copyright 2016 Lisa Hess