Planning & Organization Can Reduce Holiday Stress; FranklinCovey's Holiday Survey Reveals Top Stressors: Money, Gift-Giving & Health

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FranklinCovey (NYSE:FC), a global leader in effectiveness training, productivity tools, and assessment services, today released the results of its third annual Holiday Stress Survey. The survey polled 15,031 customers and found that the holiday season causes stress for 86 percent of respondents and leaves more than 60 percent feeling unfulfilled and regretful when it is finally over. The findings suggest that proper planning, organization and time management can play key roles in reducing holiday stress.

If you really want to enjoy a more guilt-free holiday season, make fewer commitments to yourself and keep them whether it's staying within your budget, spending more quality time with your family and friends, or taking care of your physical well-being. Keeping a promise to yourself will boost your spirits and let you truly enjoy the holiday season

    As in past years, respondents were asked to rank the following holiday activities from most stressful to least stressful. While money and gift-giving still topped the list this year, health (taking care of one's physical well-being) replaced managing workload to take time off within the top four.

It's no surprise that money tops the list again this year, with nearly two-thirds of respondents saying they spend too much during the holidays. When asked why, 30 percent admitted they don't keep their commitment to stay within their budget and 21 percent said that they don't save enough throughout the year to cover their holiday spending. Interestingly, budgeting fell to the bottom of the list, suggesting that creating a budget isn't very stressful but staying within it is.

Three of the top five holiday stressors were shopping-related. Gift-giving stressed 85 percent of respondents with 66 percent attributing selecting the right gift as the cause for their stress. Also, holiday shopping stressed 85 percent of respondents, with nearly half of respondents saying that holiday traffic and crowded stores are to blame for their stress around holiday shopping.

Health also moved near the top of the list this year, since 77 percent of respondents don't keep to their diet and exercise plans during the holidays. Thirty-four percent of respondents admitted they fail to schedule in time to eat healthy or exercise during the holidays and 25 percent don't have a diet or exercise plan.

"Proper planning, organization and time management play a key role in avoiding holiday stress. Start by creating a holiday plan of action that includes those things that will make your holidays truly happy," said Julie Morgenstern, who is a planning, organization and time management expert and the New York Times best-selling author of Organizing from the Inside Out, Time Management from the Inside Out and Never Check E-mail in the Morning. "Decide what goals will be a win for you and enter them right into your calendar, because a 'to do' not connected to a 'when' never gets done. You may not complete everything, but if you commit to accomplishing the most important things, you will feel more fulfilled once the season is over."

After the holidays are over, 62% of respondents are left feeling unfulfilled and regretful and 26 percent of respondents attribute those feelings to not accomplishing all they had hoped during the holidays. Nearly 50 percent of respondents say they don't spend adequate time with family and friends during the holiday season and 15 percent let work interfere with family and friends.

"If you really want to enjoy a more guilt-free holiday season, make fewer commitments to yourself and keep them whether it's staying within your budget, spending more quality time with your family and friends, or taking care of your physical well-being. Keeping a promise to yourself will boost your spirits and let you truly enjoy the holiday season," said Morgenstern.

Morgenstern is also a contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine, and has been interviewed by The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America and The New York Times. She has partnered with FranklinCovey(R) (NYSE:FC) to design and launch her first exclusive organizing system and collection, Time Management Your Way. The new product line is based on her own methodology, which she has taught clients for 19 years, and is also closely aligned with the principles FranklinCovey teaches regarding planning, organization, time management, productivity, and goal achievement.

Below are seven tips from experts, Morgenstern and FranklinCovey on how planning, time management and organization can help to make the holiday season less stressful and more fulfilling:

FranklinCovey and Julie Morgenstern's 7 Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress

-- 1. Create a holiday plan of action

Determine the people and things that are essential to your holiday happiness (e.g. time spent with family and friends, gifts to buy, important holiday events and traditions). After you have identified what is most important to you, set goals as to how you will spend your time around that which you value. Break large goals down into less-daunting tasks so you don't get overwhelmed. Write goals down, review them often and stay committed to making them happen.

-- 2. Keep your key information in one planning tool and carry it with you.

Keep all your key information in one planning tool, including your appointments, tasks, contacts, gift list, holiday budget, gift receipts, health and fitness tracker, etc. Carry the tool with you at all times, so you have easy access to this vital information.

-- 3. Plan for 20 minutes weekly and 10 minutes daily.

Review your most important goals for the season and transfer them into your planning tool. Integrate your holiday activities along with your personal and professional goals, tasks and appointments to ensure that nothing critical is overlooked. Set specific deadlines. Be realistic with your time. Celebrate accomplishments and track and review your progress toward that which is most important to you this season.

-- 4. Create a holiday budget and stick to it.

Identify how much you can spend for the holidays and how much you will spend on each person on your gift list. Take your budget with you when you shop and track your spending so you know what you've spent. Budget for an unforeseen circumstance, such as the perfect gift that is no longer on sale or a gift for someone you forgot to place on your list.

-- 5. Don't overcomplicate gift buying.

Have a shopping plan before you go and limit the number of sources you utilize to buy gifts. Decide which stores you will visit and how long you will spend at each store. Shop in off hours to avoid holiday crowds. On-line shopping can save you time and money through quick price comparison, free gift wrapping and shipping. Follow your shopping plan as closely as possible so you don't get sidetracked, but be flexible enough to enjoy your shopping experience.

-- 6. Take time for self-renewal and personal well-being.

Don't forget to enjoy the season. You can't get everything done so just do that which matters most. Schedule time for exercise, eat healthy and take time for self-renewal. When you feel stressed, do something that helps you relax and refocus on what is most important (e.g. look at holiday lights, go to a holiday movie or concert, go caroling with family or friends, meditate by the fire, and volunteer to serve others.)

-- 7. Focus on getting work done so you can take time off.

While at work, focus on getting the job done so that when you leave work, you can focus on your personal life. Plan work projects to complete the most important things first so you can leave work on time. While with family and friends, focus on spending quality time with them and on renewing yourself.

"People have more to accomplish during the holiday season than at any other time of the year," said Stephen R. Covey, vice chairman of FranklinCovey and best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. "But, those people who take the time to plan in advance and then manage their time around what is most important to them, such as family, friends, health and serving others, will find they will have less stress and more peace not only during the holiday season, but long after it has passed."


This survey was conducted online within the United States between October 24 and November 5, 2007 among 15,031 FranklinCovey Customers nationwide. Of the 15,031 customers polled, 612 responded. Results provided have a 95% confidence level and an overall margin of error of +/-2.8 percent.

In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of +/-2 percentage point of what they would be if the entire adult population had been polled with complete accuracy. This online survey is not a probability sample.

About FranklinCovey

FranklinCovey (NYSE:FC) is a global leader in effectiveness training, productivity tools, and assessment services for organizations and individuals. FranklinCovey helps companies succeed by unleashing the power of their workforce to focus and execute on top business priorities. Clients include 90 percent of the Fortune 100, more than 75 percent of the Fortune 500, thousands of small and mid-sized businesses, as well as numerous government entities and educational institutions. Organizations and individuals access FranklinCovey products and services through corporate training, licensed client facilitators, one-on-one coaching, public workshops, catalogs, 87 retail stores and FranklinCovey has nearly 1,500 associates providing professional services and products in 39 offices and in 95 countries.

About Julie Morgenstern Enterprises

Julie Morgenstern ( is a planning, organization and time management expert. She is the New York Times best-selling author of Making Work Work, Organizing from the Inside Out, Time Management from the Inside Out and Never Check E-mail in the Morning. She is a contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine and has been featured in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Bottom Line Business and Cosmopolitan magazine. She has also appeared on several television and radio programs, including The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. Since opening her professional organizing business in 1989, Morgenstern and her staff have organized the homes, offices, and schedules of such clients as American Express, Microsoft, The Miami Heat, NYC Mayor's Office, Sony Music, FedEx, Victoria's Secret, Time Warner, Inc., and Viacom/MTV.

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