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By: Ellen Geller Kamaras

Does the thought of Passover preparation cause a knot in your stomach? The minute I hear the word “Purim,” I think about Pesach following 30 days later and I start to get anxious.

For those of you who go away to a Pesach program for the entire holiday or stay with your parents or in-laws, Passover can be relatively labor and worry-free. If, however, you are staying home and need to turn the house over for Passover, it’s no easy feat!

The good news is that many of us have improved our Pesach preparation with time and have worked to adopt a positive
attitude and concentrate on what’s truly meaningful about
this holiday. Nonetheless, Pesach preparation can be labor-intensive and overwhelming.

As a former finance professional with a specialty in business process documentation, and as a life and career coach, I am focused on process improvement and mindfulness.

Let’s partner to simplify our 2019 Pesach preparation process and work smarter, not harder this year.

Work Smarter

To work smarter, not harder is a business axiom about prioritizing efficiency above everything else. It means researching and using obtainable resources, tools, technologies, and strategies to find better ways to accomplish your work or tasks.

Efficiency and organizational experts have found the following tips to be successful in working smarter. Implementing these strategies for your Pesach prep can help you avoid Pesach overwhelm.

Break your project into action tasks and into manageable chunks of time. As a life and career coach, I have seen this approach lead to positive results in achieving one’s goal of productivity. Can you use this method for your Pesach prep? Of course! Choose a task, such as refrigerator cleaning, and set a timer for the estimated time you think you need, and go for it! This tool is aligned with SMARTING your goals. SMART goals are those that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely – they have a greater probability of getting accomplished.

The Best Way to Work

Work in short surges with concentrated focus. Professor
K. Anders Ericsson studied the performance of elite performers such as athletes, musicians, and chess players and found that they work in short bursts of time and take frequent breaks in between. Therefore, resting improves performance. Working in short and concentrated surges increases productivity and helps people avoid The Parkinson’s Law, which states that work expands to fill the time. If you start preparing for Passover a month in advance, it will take you a month to finish the project.

Closely related is get enough sleep. Don’t burn the candles at both ends. Remember, we need to put our own oxygen masks on first. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be there for the people we love.

Avoid multitasking. Neuroscience shows that we are wired to be mono-taskers, and that less than 3% of the population can successfully multi-task. Don’t switch back and forth from project to project or from one Pesach task to another. It can hurt your ability to function.

Take a Break

Plan breaks in advance and give yourself rewards. Practice self-care
and some “me” time. Go for a walk for a half an hour, put your feet up, close your eyes and listen to some music or treat yourself to a smoothie. Working towards that reward when the task is either completed or 50 % done will help you focus, and gives you something
to look forward to. By the way, listening to relaxing music may help you stay calm during performance of Pesach prep tasks.

Don’t get distracted by unnecessary technology and social media. Social media can be a huge distraction and time drain, and can make you more anxious. For example, your friends may be posting/bragging on social media about everything they have already completed for Pesach.

Prep Tools

Be mindful in your Pesach preparation. Avoid mindlessness or operating on autopilot. Consider deviating from your past Pesach preparation routines. Don’t get stuck doing exactly what you did the year before. Perhaps you can keep your menu simpler or have more meals with family and friends. Change can be a good thing! Pesach is a celebration of our liberation from slavery in Egypt. So, let’s not run ourselves ragged for a hag that is meant to be joyful and emancipating!

Beware of the comparison game. President Theodore Roosevelt said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Don’t judge yourself. You don’t have to be the best chef or baker or hostess during Pesach. You don’t have to have 20 guests at your seders. Focus on your own strengths and good qualities rather than comparing yourself to others. Know your own limits, and your family’s limits and financial resources, and respect them. Think about how many guests you, your husband and your children can manage, how many courses you can cook, etc. Will a smaller or larger seder be more meaningful for your children? Remember to consider your work load and other responsibilities.

This also ties into practicing balance. I have written many times about the Rambam’s shviel hazahav, the “golden” or middle path, which my father, A”H, taught me as a child. I strive to use it as a compass for how I lead my life. The Rambam encouraged Jews to practice balance by not being extreme in their actions. Let’s be mindful of the messages we send our children. If we take an imbalanced approach to Pesach prep and are nervous, harried, and anxious before Passover then we will be exhausted during what is supposed to be a jubilant holiday.

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize!

Focus on essential chores. You don’t have to be Superwoman. During my first few years of Pesach prep as a young married woman, I followed my mother’s example when I prepared for Pesach. My mom did not go to sleep the night before Pesach and could not keep her eyes open during the seder. The turning point came for me when I heard the guidelines presented at various pre-Pesach shiurim. I realized that I didn’t need to buy the latest Pesach cookbook or make gourmet dishes. Remember: keep it simple, it’s only eight days! Avoid impulse shopping, and go to the supermarket with a list in hand. Save money and eat matzah in its natural form rather than buying pricey imitation hametz items such as kosher for Pesach bagels and waffles. Isn’t matzah what you think of when someone says Pesach? The savings can be used for a family outing on Hol Hamoed.

Delay Spring Cleaning

Nor did I need to do my spring cleaning while ensuring the house was free of hametz. Did my curtains contain hametz? If I didn’t allow my children to eat any food in their bedrooms throughout the year, then why did I need to turn their rooms upside down for Pesach?

While you are preparing for Pesach, keep an eye out for clutter. Declutter your space, declutter your mind! Take the opportunity to do a mitzvah and donate toys your children no longer play with and clothes you don’t wear, and throw out broken gadgets.

Streamline your Passover items. Go through your Pesach storage closet or bins and give away the items you never use or haven’t used in years. During Passover, keep a running list of things you might want for the following year. When you put away your Passover supplies after the hag, label your containers clearly so you can easily spot what you need and don’t pack up things that you will never use.

Stay Focused

Enlist family support. You don’t have to “go it alone.” Allow your husband and children to have skin in the game and feel ownership and responsibility for the holiday.

Stay focused on the big picture. What is your goal or end game? Mine is to fulfill the mitzvot of the holiday and celebrate Pesach with my family. That means enjoying the reciting of the Haggadah and the various commentaries offered by the attendees, educating the children about yetziat Mitzrayim, and being grateful for our physical and spiritual freedom.

I leave you with the inspiring words of Rochel Holzkenner, a high-school teacher and freelance writer. “To me, working smarter means consciously attracting Gd’s blessing to our endeavors, acknowledging our dependence on Him, being aware of the partnership between us. The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that although having a large family is so incredibly time-consuming, the more children a mother has, the more efficiently she will work. Not only because of her learned expertise, but because Gd gives her work an extra dose of blessing and success so that she can accomplish more in less time.”

Wishing you all a Hag Kasher ve’Sameach!

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation
(ICF) Associate Certified Coach. Her coaching specialties include life, career
and dating coaching. Ellen can be contacted at