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.
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.
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.
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