Staying on track during the holidays

The holidays definitely impact SHEs (Sidetracked Home Executives).

Because we're creative, we can go into OPM (Over Pro-duction Mode). Our perfectionism kicks in and we want to recreate the magic we see on glossy magazine covers without thinking about how fake it all is.

We SHEs love the holidays, and since we're easily distracted throughout the year, this time of year can pitch us over the festive edge.

The holidays don't let us off the hook when it comes to the work involved in running a household. Imagine you have a half hour specifically slotted for housework.

You’ve got four 3x5 cards with specific chores on each to direct your work (if you’re on the SHE system).

There's an estimated time telling you how long each task will take written on each card. You’re dressed for housework, so you won’t wreck your good clothes and you’ve got on sensible shoes.

According to your math, you can do the tasks on the cards in half an hour, but what has happened to your good intentions when you find yourself at the mall buying Christmas presents?

You can find out that by thinking backward until you come to the point in your housecleaning that prompted the diversion. Maybe you were innocently dusting the dining room table with a couple weeks’ worth of mail stacked on it and when you went to move the mail to dust you saw the coupon for 25 percent off Christmas pajamas at Nordstrom, and the sale ends today.

So much for housecleaning, but at least you have some gifts to wrap.

If you are a champion at getting sidetracked, read on because there is a wonderful anti-sidetracking tool you can use and it’s located in your head (well, actually in your throat). You can read all about it at the end of this essay.

If you’re tired of being a victim of distractions here are 10 you need to be aware of before you start any housework whether it's during the holidays or any time.

1. Cell phone

2. Door bell

3. Pet

4. Refrigerator

5. Sun

6. Mailman or UPS guy

7. Physiological interruptions: bathroom, thirst, hunger

8. Computer games/Facebook/Twitter

9. Child or husband

10. Your amazing mind

If you’ve been sidetracked in the past by any of these distractions, here’s what you can do. When you set your timer for 15 minutes and plan to clean the refrigerator for example, promise yourself you are going to stay on task short of an emergency, like a broken arm, a fire in the next room or a drone takes off the top of your roof.

Once the vow is made, work fast and play with your time constraint (Seeing how much you can get accomplished in 15 minutes will engage your inner child who loves races against time.).

There's no guarantee one of the distractions won’t occur. In fact, most likely one or more of them will crop up especially if the job at hand starts to get boring. No worries, you’ll be ready!

So, let’s say something in the fridge speaks to you, like a leftover chicken leg, and the thought comes to your amazing mind, “I’m kinda hungry.”

Speak to the chicken part and say, “Shut up! It’s not time to eat! I’ll eat you later.”

If that dialogue works, keep cleaning the refrigerator. If it starts to nag you or another food item tempts you, it's time to bring out the big gun.

The ultimate and tried and true solution is the air horn (you know the sound of the horn at a basketball game).

Now in the course of the 15-minute fridge clean-out you may have to use that obnoxious horn more than once, but it’s such a brutal sound and it’s hard on your vocal chords, so your sweet soul probably won't want to hear it more than once.

You can also use the air horn while at the grocery store when you’re tempted to put a package of Christmas ginger snaps in your cart, for example (If there happens to be someone in the cookie aisle when you blast the horn, just touch your throat and say, “I hate it when that happens,” and continue shopping.

Happy Holidays!

For more from Pam Young go to You’ll find many musings, videos of Pam in the kitchen preparing delicious meals, videos on how to get organized, lose weight and get your finances in order, all from a reformed SLOB’s point of view.