Category Archives: Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist

How to Work When You Are Sick, Sad, or Tired

Somedays, you’re just not feeling it. Here’s my list of how I keep going.

  1.  Plan a time to go back to bed. Make it 8:00, ridiculously early. This does a couple of great things. It gives you something to look forward to. Yay, sleep! It reduces the risk or procrastination because you know you have fewer hours to get your work done. Finally, it lets your body heal. Rest is often the best cure.
  2. Stay off social media. This is not the day to look for external validation.

  3. Make a Top Three List. If you only could accomplish three things today, what should those things be?
  4. Make a Sick List. Once, when I had a terrible cold, I needed to be at work, but I could not focus. I made of list of everything I had to do in order to survive.  This list included basic, self-care things like “make tea” and the bare minimum required for a functional work day. When I was home with small children, the list included games I could play on the floor and really long movies. Then, I kept that list for future reference so I never had to remember how to function on a sick day. I pull out this list anytime I am feeling under the weather. It has helped me be a functional human being more times than I can count.
  5. Turn on email and voicemail away notifications. Just meet important deadlines. Everything else can wait.
  6. Give yourself the grace to try again tomorrow.

 

 

*photo by Siebe Warmoeskerken

7 Tips for Dealing With Stress and Overwhelm

Overwhelm

I just finishing one of the most intense work periods I’ve ever had. I was up working until 3:00 A.M. more days than I could count. I had three huge projects going simultaneously. When life gets like that, I don’t function.  I shut down, I Netflix (while “working” of course), I bury my head in the sand and hope it all goes away.

Instead of positive mantras, I could only repeat, “I’m drowning, I’m drowning, I’m drowning.” Not exactly the picture of mental health.

The projects still aren’t finished, but I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons about how to get through a crazy season. Here’s what made my life livable and actually productive.

Plan Before You Start

Taking 30 minutes to plan the day when you have too much to do already may feel overwhelming, but it will absolutely save your sanity. Plan the day. Plan the top three must-do tasks for the day. Planning makes the rest of the day fall into place and gives a sense of control.

Looking Forward

Before you finish your daily plan, write down what you have to look forward to today. Whether it’s a good book, a long run, dinner with friends, or making chocolate chip cookies, when you write down what you have to look forward to, it makes the work enjoyable, too.

Cancel Out the Noise

As an introvert, I am easily overwhelmed by background noise. Canceling out noise means a few different things. It may mean literally cutting down on the noise with noise canceling headphones.

But it can also mean cutting out distractions. I just took Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix off my phone (again, again.) They were causing me to lose sleep and valuable daylight working hours.

Whatever “noise” means to you, get rid of it.

Walk It Out

No matter how busy you are, exercise makes everything else possible. Schedule in your daily workout and make it non-negotiable. If you like to walk or run, you can use this time to pray, doubling the stress-reducing benefits. If you only have five minutes, do a quick high-intensity workout.

Working out improves your mood, making it possible to work for a long stretch without crying because the printer ate your taxes. It improves your focus, making your work more efficient. It improves your stamina, which means you can work longer if you need to. Your daily workout makes the rest of the day possible.

Pomodoro Technique

Italian for tomato, the pomodoro technique is named after kitchen timers. This technique is what allowed me to quit my job, work for myself, and change my whole life.

Set a timer for 25 minutes. Work without stopping. When the timer goes off, take 5-minute break. Repeat. After a few sessions take a 15-minute break. I use the Be Focused app or Tomato Timer and I love them. However, you can just use your kitchen timer and change your whole life, too.

Triage

You can’t do everything. In fact, you can only do one thing at a time. What’s the most important thing you need to get done today? Do that thing. Repeat.

Sleep Talk Down Video

Tonight, go to sleep with a SLEEP TALK DOWN VIDEO. These stupid things have saved my life. When I can’t sleep, but put in headphones, turn off my phone display, and just listen myself to sleep. I’m not kidding. Life Changing.

 

When you find yourself overwhelmed, plan, move, and then rest. Busy seasons don’t last forever. Find what works for you to make it through.

*photo by Samantha Sophia

This is a Calling

 

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Welcome to the Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist Series!

You have heard people say this, or maybe said something like this yourself recently:

“I should really write that story.”

“I love the guitar. I wish I played more often.”

“I used to draw, but then life happened.”

Is there something in your life that keeps showing up? Maybe there is something you’ve always wanted to try. Perhaps you love something you long ago put away. Maybe there is something that repeatedly pops into your mind when you least expect it.

That still, small voice calling you to create something, to be a creator? That is a calling. Your art is not just a neglected hobby or a forgotten diversion. It is a calling upon your life, put there by a divine creator.

Pursuing your art is not a waste of time. It is not selfish. It is answering a divine call to use your gifts for the benefit of the world.

What happens when you ignore your calling?

At first, nothing.

Nothing happens.

Nothing feels pretty safe.  There’s no struggle. No sacrifice of time. No battling fear or rejection. Life goes on as planned. Nice, safe, nothing.

What else happens when you ignore your calling?

Like Hughes’s raisin in the sun, your gift dries up. It vanishes. Without light and air, it withers and dies. Not using the gifts and creativity you’ve been given causes your soul to shrink. Your ability dissipates. A calling, ignored, turns to a dull ache that makes everything feel dull. Off. Like your whole life is a step to the left.

I’ve been in this place. In the years I spent Not-Writing, I thought about writing. I read about writing. Instead of actually writing, however, I watched a lot of TV and ate a lot of food so I didn’t have to think about the fact that I wasn’t writing. My phone was easier to face than my life. I was killing myself through distraction. My heart hurt. My body hurt. My mind didn’t hurt, but it was too numb to notice that anything was wrong.

Your gift, unpracticed, becomes another heavy thing to carry through this life.

But there is a better way.

The way to grow in your skills is to practice them and freely share them with the world. Holding on to, saving up, or hoarding your gifts is the fastest way to kill them.

Creating is more than just using your gift. It is answering your divine calling. Using your gifts opens you to light. It provides room to breathe. It is a step to the right path, a place in which everything makes sense again.

Practice your art. Share what you know. Offer your gifts freely to the world.

 

Photo by Eddy Klaus

3 Quick Ways to Reduce Stess

blog follow dreams realist part 7

Welcome back to the Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist Series!

I am not a naturally organized person. I am a type B. I’m “forgetty.” I couldn’t tell you how old my kids are. I can’t even tell you how old I am. Because my brain tends more toward “creative,” than “organized,” I had to find some coping techniques for keeping my time and stress under control. Here are three life-changing time management and stress coping techniques.
Continue reading 3 Quick Ways to Reduce Stess

Podcast University

Welcome back to the Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist series!

One of my favorite speakers, Zig Ziglar, always talked about “Automobile University.” He used his time in the car to learn from tapes. Whether he was learning a new language, or listening to motivational speakers in order to be a better at sales,  Zig never wasted time in the car.

car

Continue reading Podcast University

Building A Bridge, Not Burning It Down

Have you ever seen a movie about the girl who’s having a terrible, awful, no-good day and then decides, at the drop of a hat, to jump on a plane and start a new life? Or maybe you’ve heard a great country song about telling your boss EXACTLY where he can put this job.

While slamming the door on your way out of a job makes for a fun story, it is simply not a great thing to do in real life.

Let’s talk about how to be your own boss, the smart way. Continue reading Building A Bridge, Not Burning It Down

How to Actually Make Money Online

Welcome back to the Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist Series. If you missed it, here is Part One. In Part Two, we looked at how to know if you’re ready to quit your job. This week, we are looking at how to *actually* make money online.

Money is the thing no one wants to talk about. It is simmering under the surface, but we are JUST TOO POLITE to bring it up. Let’s change that. Knowing how much people made from their online businesses is what gave me the courage to quit my job. It really IS possible to make a living online. Let’s see how.

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Continue reading How to Actually Make Money Online

Am I Ready to Quit My Job?

Welcome to part two of the Follow Your Dreams Like a Realist series. When this conversation started, one of the most common questions was, “How did you know you were ready to quit your job?” The first step to any big change is to define what “ready” means to you.

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Here are three questions to ask to find out if you’re ready to be your own boss. Continue reading Am I Ready to Quit My Job?