I knew going into the end of the summer, August would be the craziest and busiest month of the year. Some of it was just by chance — three of my four children have August birthdays — but most of my August overwhelm was because I had overcommitted myself.
I teach my clients how to anticipate and rebound from overextending. Overextending will happen now and again, and if we have the right tools, we can be prepared to handle the stress. First we have to define our roles or the responsibilities we have like spouse, parent, community leader or employee. Too many roles is a speed track straight to overwhelm.
In my situation I had not actually added new roles, I added extensive responsibilities under my most prominent roles. I tripled my business commitments in a month when I knew my roles as mother and sibling would take more planning than usual.
Stepping into a busy season of life is just like stepping into a boxing ring. Thankfully, I have good time-management strategies, so as I fought to survive last month, I knew how to throw some good punches.
Here are some tips to help you survive the match of time vs. to-do list.
Connect regularly. It was important for me to connect spiritually each day — to ground myself — so I could focus on what was most important to me. I also found when working against a deadline, taking time to connect with my kids and husband, even if just for an hour or so, really helped.
Exercise regularly. I should have been better at this. I quit exercising regularly for a few weeks and I would not recommend that. When I did squeeze in a good workout, I felt much better.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management.”
Eat food. I made sure to eat my meals. Who skips meals? I know, crazy thought. Yet, when I get very busy I often work right through lunch and then my emotions explode before dinner time because I’m so “hangry.”
Our bodies need energy to control our temper and manage our stress. That energy comes from food.
Don’t eat junk food. Many people want to stress-eat junk food. Me too. I found chewing gum to be very helpful. My mouth was occupied, and I actually had better focus.
Cut it out. Cut out all unnecessary responsibilities and activities. Last month at my house baskets of clean laundry piled up, bathrooms didn’t get cleaned and weeds grew. Hire out or delegate the things you don’t really need to do.
Or, realize you have to let some things go. You cannot do it all. This extends to book club, meetings and appointments. Postpone or reschedule everything you can so you can focus on the task at hand.
Map it out. One word: lifesaver. If I had not mapped out each project into a mind-map, I would have crumbled. It would have been out for the count.
Mind-mapping is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts. In my case, it’s a view of projects or jobs so I can see the most pressing tasks and reach a deadline or a goal.
Rally your team. Gather the people closest to you, like your kids and spouse, and involve them in your struggles. Let them know about your deadlines and even offer them a reward for helping you finish the round. It can be as simple as a family activity night or ice cream sundaes.
Who is in your corner? And do they know what you’re fighting for?
Next time you feel the world or the calendar against you, try some of these tips so you can come out swinging.
This article originally posted as Nicole’s regular column on KSL.com
Stock image from freedigitalphotos.net.