6 Time Management Lessons You Can Take Away from Thanksgiving

5 min readNov 28, 2020
Photo by Element5 Digital

Thanksgiving tests one’s ability to handle stress and organization skills like no other holiday. The meal requires careful planning and execution, and those who pull it off are heroes in their own right.

The skills needed to host a Thanksgiving dinner are transferable to other aspects of our daily lives — particularly in time management. Learning how to manage our time better is important as it helps improve productivity and lower stress.

From prep to execution, here are six time management lessons we can take away from Thanksgiving dinner and use throughout the rest of the year.

1. Always Have a Plan

Imagine that it is Thanksgiving morning and you are having your entire family over for dinner, but you haven’t considered what is on the menu, who is bringing side dishes, or even where people are sleeping. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

Too many times people skip forming a plan in order to save time or because it doesn’t always seem necessary. However, every big task — from Thanksgiving dinner to a project proposal — can benefit from having a well-thought-out strategy, allowing you to set better goals and objectives. Just like you should know well ahead of time who is bringing desserts and what mashed potato recipe you are making, you should take the time to properly plan for any of your projects.

2. Prep What You Can

Thanksgiving would be less stressful if you could make everything ahead of time and freeze it. But your family might be a little annoyed at you if you treat the turkey dinner like it’s Lean Cuisine.

To make cooking easier you can find ways to prepare some of the food ahead of time, saving yourself some headache on Thanksgiving. Pies, for example, are a staple of Thanksgiving dessert and can be made the day before if needed, and by getting ahead of the curve, you’ll feel less stressed on the holiday itself.

By approaching work-related duties in a similar fashion, find tasks that you can complete ahead of time so that you can reduce the number of things you have to do last minute. Like planning, proper preparation has the ability to benefit any project you are working on. You probably shouldn’t give a presentation to your boss without running through it at least a couple of times. To ensure optimal performance, take ample time to prepare.

3. Think Big Picture and Then Prioritize

Use a prioritization method to help micromanage individual tasks. Just as you would determine which parts of Thanksgiving dinner need to be prioritized, create a ranking system that helps you decide what you should focus most on during your day.

Oftentimes, it feels like everything you are being asked to do is equally important, but through breaking down your monthly, weekly, and daily goals, it is easier to sort out what’s most important.

4. Delegate Tasks to Others

As a host, it would drive you crazy to manage all of Thanksgiving alone. Instead, the meal resembles a potluck, with guests contributing different side dishes or desserts. Asking people to help out, whether it’s to bring food, drinks, or to help clean and cook, isn’t rude but encompasses the giving nature of the holiday. Teamwork makes the dream work!

We often over-schedule ourselves and leave little room for hobbies or downtime. Similar to divvying up the responsibilities of Thanksgiving, delegating tasks in your professional and personal life can help you better manage your time and reduce stress as well. Do you have a difficult time sharing a workload because you prefer to do it all yourself? Use time tracking software that allows you to assign responsibilities to teams, while still maintaining oversight of the entire project.

Do you find yourself constantly overwhelmed by work and life? It’s understandable, especially since your regular routines and shopping habits probably changed dramatically. The positive? You can check off a lot of household tasks by utilizing digital resources and apps. For example, opt to have your daily essentials delivered, such as food, office needs, and cleaning supplies, to eliminate the need to go to the store. Limiting certain tasks, like shopping, gives you more downtime to relax or spend more time on hobbies you actually enjoy. With enough creativity, you can find ways to pass on many mundane tasks, allowing you to spend more time on your priorities.

5. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Aiming for perfection in everything is an impossible goal. Thanksgiving — the food, decorations, and family time — is meant to be enjoyed. If you worry too much about the minor details going wrong, you will only be unhappy. Learning from mistakes is part of life and helps us improve.

Not everything about Thanksgiving is going to be perfect: maybe the turkey will be dry or the potatoes will be too salty. The lesson from this is to not focus too much on the little details that went wrong. Instead, be proud of what you’ve accomplished. All you can do is learn from your mistakes and apply them to become better in the future.

6. Remember to Enjoy

It is easy to get caught up in the stress of preparing for Thanksgiving. Most of us have probably wished for the day to be over in the midst of the cooking and preparing, but it’s important to remember exactly why you are celebrating and what you are thankful for.

Try to apply this gratitude towards other aspects of your life: professionally and personally. Take a step back and appreciate your accomplishments, your skills, and what you do. Remembering why you do your job will help put things into perspective.


It is probably a good thing that Thanksgiving is a once-a-year event. It’s a wonderful and joyous occasion, but also exhausting and stressful. Yet, there are many things we can take away from the holiday and apply to our day-to-day lives. So, while this Thanksgiving probably looks different, remember these lessons as you celebrate in whichever way you are able to.

And don’t forget, if you do end up burning the turkey, you can always go to Denny’s.

Originally published at actitime.com




Your ultimate guide to productivity and time management