“Master of Motivation” Yolanda M. Tucker offers her tips on how to find some downtime during the holidays.

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The holidays are a busy time for everyone, with plenty of tasks on our seemingly never-ending to-do lists, even more parties to go to and for many, extra work in preparation for some time off around the big day. Unfortunately, we often feel guilty about saying “no” to all those event invitations and give up what little time we have for us as a compromise.

According to “Master of Motivation” and author of the award-winning books including Blessed Beyond Belief, Lessons Learned: My Reflection and All I Ever Wanted To Do Is Love You, Yolanda M. Tucker, the key to finding the right balance is in learning what to say “no” to, how to say “no” and how to ensure you don’t forget your priorities this festive season and beyond.

We recently caught up with the lifestyle strategist and planning expert to discuss her tips on how to survive the holiday season and being able to fulfill your commitments while keeping your sanity.

161221 holidayhack8 middleElevate Magazine: What is a “proper life balance” and what would you be looking for?

Yolanda M. Tucker: For me personally, I look for a work-personal life balance where I actually go and work on a daily basis, but I also have time for family and friends, especially during this time of the year. It’s the holidays and who’s most important in your life? It’s your family and your friends. Although work is still there, and I know for me in my industry it does not let up around the holidays, I have to find the time and make a balance between those two so that I can enjoy the company of my family and friends while still having the energy to perform at my job.

EM: When it comes to the holidays, we know that things get busy and hectic. You want to see everybody, but you also need time to yourself. How can we make more time for ourselves over the holidays without feeling like we’re drawing away from the people we love?

YMT: I would say that definitely keep a schedule, but most importantly, learn how to say no. You can’t do everything. You’re probably not going to be able to see everybody so you're learn how to say no. You’re going to have to do a little picking and choosing of what it is you really want go to and where you want to spend your time. It is very important that we as individuals have our own personal time to reflect and just let our minds rest sometimes. You also have to make sure that you get that personal time scheduled in as well. It is unfortunate that we have to schedule that, but it really does have to be scheduled.

EM: What are some tactics you can use to say no in an inoffensive way that will not make someone think you don’t want to see them?

YMT: Try to compromise, for instance, if one friend is hosting a Christmas party and you're going to see everybody (friends or family) at that party, that may be a party you want to attend. You may have to tell other friends you already have scheduled plans for the days they have other parties. That way you're not saying you're only going to one party because everyone is going to be there, but you have to tell them, "Hey, I am going to be at this other party and I really hope to see you there, but I apologize that I will not be able to make it to your party this year because I already have something on my schedule.”

EM: Christmas day in itself is probably the busiest day for a lot people. What can we do to schedule in time for ourselves on that day in particular?

YMT: On Christmas day, personally I try to get up a little early so I can have my coffee time. I don’t really drink coffee, but I still call it my coffee time. I know that when my son was small I wrapped gifts and did all of that last-minute stuff on Christmas Eve, so I’d be up until three or four o'clock in the morning. Now my son is an adult so I don’t have to do that the night before. Now, I get up in the morning, I have my tea, I meditate and I have my personal time then so I can later give myself to everyone else.

EM: Any other tips for finding that proper life balance or mastering scheduling?

YMT: My other tips would be to try to do your shopping either online or early in the morning or late at night. That way you don’t have to endure so many people and it gives you more time to think. Make a list and go prepared, so as you’re walking through you can get everything you need and you don’t forget anything. That way you can avoid multiple trips.

Keep your schedule where you can see it on a daily basis. For me, I put it into my smartphone. When I wake up in the morning, I can look at my schedule and see that I have a little bit of balance. Sometimes, you’ll have to change things, so if you have your schedule easily available, you can make the changes you need easily and quickly.