How to Flourish in a Busy Season Instead of Drowning in Overwhelm - tips from a mom of 6 who is ALWAYS in a busy season!
There are times and seasons when our lives become busier than other times. Right now, I'm wearing many different hats and unfortunately piling them all on my head is just making me drown in overwhelm! What I need is a hat made from a bouy to help keep me a float!
This month, I'm participating in LOAD (layout a day) and I'm having a fabulous time! However, making a scrapbook (or planner) page everyday takes time, no matter how fast I scrap. Today is the carnaval (mardi gras) party for the geeklings so I was up late last night putting the finishing touches on costumes, reparing some and painting a bright orange star wars nerf gun black and silver to look more like Han Solo's. The look on geekling 3's face this morning was well worth it, but that smile, even along with a LOT of coffee, won't keep me going all month!
So here are some tips that you can apply to help you flourish in a busy season:
You can do a lot in 5 minutes
When you have a time constraint or deadline you tend to work faster. Studies have shown that we fill the time we have to do a task. So if you have 20 minutes, you can usually get it done in 20 minutes, but if you have an hour it can take you the whole hour to do that same task. So set yourself a time limit or deadline whether it be real or invented and get to work. I like to try and finish things right before I have scheduled activity. So if I need to leave in 5 minutes to go pick up the geeklings from the school bus, I will run around like a mad woman and do a 'turbo tidy' of one room of my house to see how much I can get done!
Shift your mindset before you start the task
Multitasking gets a bad rap because they say changing from one task to another takes time. Your brain needs to adjust from one activity to the next. So each time you shift your focus back and forth, you lose time. This is why checking facebook and trying to write a letter don't mix. However, if you know that you are going to change activities and will need to get yourself into that mindset, then get into that mindset even before you start the task. For example, if I'm driving home from dropping off a geekling at music lessons knowing that I need to go back in 30 minutes to pick him up, but I want to get a start on a blog post in the meantime, I will think about that blog post content on the drive home and be completely in a 'blog writing' mindset before I even walk in the front door. So that when I sit down to write, I'm already all warmed up and ready to write and take full advantage of the half an hour I do have.
Make decisions before sit down to work
Another task that takes up an awful lot of time is decision making! If you have a task that you need to do that takes a lot of decisions, try making all those decisions ahead of time when your brain is free, but you are doing something else. Let's use LOAD for an example. I usually do my layouts after the children are in bed, but I've watched the prompt video first thing in the morning. This gives me all day to make all the decisions that need to go into making that page. First off, the page topic usually comes pretty easy with the prompt video and I have that idea already. If not, it may come in the shower (that's where the best ideas always happen!). If I have 5 minutes while water is boiling for a meal, or in that 5 minutes before I need to go to the bus stop, I'll choose and print photos. While driving back after dropping my geeklings off at hockey maybe I'll roll around a draft of the journalling in my head. So you see when I sit down to scrapbook, I get to just play!
Don't let your self get run ragged. You need to replenish yourself. If you just keep going and going all day long, you will crash! Now I'm not saying that you should curl up with a can't-put-down book or watch a movie, but flip through a magazine or watch a quick youtube video that will recharge your batteries and motivate you to get back at it!
Coffee or tea while you work
I love my tea breaks, I like to take a good 30 minutes each morning and afternoon to myself, but in busy times that is just not possible. So after 10 minutes or so, I'll take my cup into my studio and get back to work, sipping away as I go.
Don't lose sleep!
Get your sleep! You just cannot function at 100% on too little sleep! Maybe there will be some nights where you just have to stay up late and 'get 'er done', but don't make it a habit! After 3 nights of midnight sewing, tonight I'm heading to bed at a decent hour. I'm going to curl up with a book and fall asleep before I've read a full paragraph and probably after reading the same line 7 times trying to stay awake enough to understand it. If you do have a late night or two, make up the missed sleep with a nap or an early night the following day. A friend once told me that not getting enough sleep is like credit, it builds up like interest and you just get crankier and less efficient. If you max it out, it comes back to bite you in the butt.
Use lists and schedules
Even if, as a general rule, you are able to keep track of things without a list, write tasks down when things get busy. Not only will this help you remember all the things that you need to get done, it will stop them from running on repeat over and over in your mind. This endless mixed tape of tasks in your head is only making you worry about getting it all done and keeping you from functioning at your best.
What can you illiminate in this busy time?
You only have 24 hours in a day. What can either, wait until things calm down, or be illiminated from your to-do list completely? I don't watch TV or read when things get busy. Sometimes we'll skip hockey practice or baths... just as long as I'm not skipping baths after hockey practice ;)
What can you let slide or only do half assed? ... just this once
Not everything has to be done perfectly. Some things just need to be done. Period. So what if you could cut a few corners? How about buying cookies from the corner bakery for that pot luck party instead of making them from scratch? Or, making quick meals or reading your children just one book before bedtime instead of 5?
I hope that next time that you find yourself in a busy season that you will benefit from these tips and be your very best 'you' in the moment and get it all done!
Share in the comments what your busiest time of year is.