Being incredibly busy is a common affliction these days. For me, my week involves two jobs, a full school schedule, and a household to maintain. I just have to keep telling myself that I am a Xena Warrior Princess, and I’ll find my rhythm.
Fall is such a time of transition. This year it is ever more transition-y than normal. I started a new job and began classes at a new school. This means a commute and three 18 hour workdays for me. For now, it is a necessary evil that is leading to some really incredible things. My new job means I get to work with the community and reach out to those living with mental illness. The new school means I am being challenged and learning in new ways. But if I’m honest, it’s a lot. I have to be careful I don’t tip over into feeling overwhelmed. So far, it’s taking me a bit of routine and planning. Usually these are two words that make me cringe, but I am coming to embrace the calm assurance it often brings. For those of you working to find your own balance, I wanted to share some things that have been instrumental in my maintenance of sanity.
First: (And most importantly) Build time for yourself into your schedule
For me, this means that I commute to school and take advantage of the extra time to work on assignments so that I don’t have to take time to drive and then time to work. I also work longer on my work days to have an extra day where I don’t have to do any work at all. There is something magical and refreshing about a day off. It gives me time to rest, recover, plan, and organize.
I like to call this, “blocking.” I group similar things together and knock them out all at once. School today, work tomorrow, chores the next day, recover. Or something along those lines.
I know often this seems like an impossible task. I find that the impossibility of it comes with a feeling of guilt or obligation to others. How do I escape this guilt? I make a commitment to an activity that brings me joy. For a while I would go kickboxing in the morning. I loved it and had time alone without any obligations. Also if I wanted to skip class and go read somewhere, no-one seemed to feel they had claim over this time, because it was a routine that those two hours were mine.
Burn-out happens when we feel like our needs are not being met. Take as much you time as possible, you owe it to yourself.
Second: Plan ahead
This is a hard one for me, but getting better at this has helped me enormously. I got myself a really great calendar, and I use the heck out of it. I write down everything. I even plan meals, errands, chores I want to get done. I write down everything so that my brain is not preoccupied with remembering all of the little things that come up. There is a certain peace of mind it has helped me find.
My calendar is my best friend. Especially with the mix of personal, business, and educational things that need attention, putting it all on paper lets me know that I have things under control. I can visually see what I need to focus on, and what can wait.
Third: Get everyone on board
Sometimes this requires a conversation, and some times this means taking a stand. That feeling of not enough hours in the day can be combatted by finding allies in your daily life. Ask for help when you need help, and set boundaries when you need to set boundaries. If you have to tell the kids that Sundays are mommy’s day, do it. If you have to ask the spouse to run errands, do it. Do not let yourself carry the world on your shoulders. I REPEAT do not carry the world on your shoulders. The people that are around you every day can be invaluable in achieving your goals. Even in your work life, accept challenges and be diligent from 9-5, but don’t get bulldozed. You don’t owe anything to anyone, put that foot forward first.
It’s easy to get busy, just don’t let it eat you up. That’s a lesson I have learned the hard way. I still feel guilty and chaotic at times, but I work every day to get a little better at stepping away, listening to my intuition, and asking for help.
Good luck out there busy bees.