Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Managing Your “Busy” Life

It seems that many of us are always “so busy.” While being busy is a good thing, too much on our plates can be damaging to our well-being. Finding a healthy balance among our countless responsibilities will help manage our stress levels, productivity, and most importantly our overall happiness. If there is anyone that knows a thing or two about living a busy lifestyle, it’s me! Between a full time job, graduate school, and the many side projects and time to myself, family, and friends, it’s easy to burn out. Whew!

People frequently ask me, “how do you do it all?” To be quite honest I ask myself the same thing, but I do what makes me happy and what is necessary for my growth.  Do I get stressed? Yes, I’m human especially when I work with so many different deadlines and personality types.  Do I ever spread myself too thin? Yes, at times. Then WHY do I continue to live a busy lifestyle? Because I have goals, timelines, and I’m VERY passionate about the things I do.  I have a long way to go, and many lessons yet to learn. However, I have found several tactics to help me along the way to keep a healthy balance. View my previous post Finding a Balance.

Reduce stress: It’s simple. Stop doing things that stress you out! Involve yourself in activities & projects that don’t cause you anxiety. Surround yourself with people that bring you joy and contribute to your success.

The worst thing is have to work a job you are miserable in (I know!), or having to engage with people that disrupt your inner peace & happiness.  When in doubt, hit the gym, try yoga or meditation, and be sure you are getting enough rest to keep up with your own schedule.

Time Management:  Space out your priorities and be proactive. This entails preparation, travel time, and tasks to be completed within the week/month. Prep for your meetings in advance to help keep things timely & efficient. Leave early and arrive early, so you don’t feel rushed to get from point A to point B. Purchase gifts and greetings cards in advance rather than stopping at the store on the way to a birthday party/wedding. Try not to always schedule events/meetings/soccer practice back to back.
It's ok to say no: Your time is valuable, and committing to multiple ventures can negatively impact your motivation, productivity, and well-being. It's not selfish to say no; it’s healthy. You work hard to succeed in your career endeavors, and referrals are essential. However, be cautious when accepting an opportunity.

If it doesn’t fulfill your long term career goals, supplement your income, or could hinder your happiness then maybe consider “sitting out” on this one. Don't feel the need to always say yes. There is a great chance the opportunity will present itself again at a later time. When you say no to a new commitment, you're honoring your existing obligations and ensuring that you'll be able to devote high-quality time to them. mentions a few pointers on stress relief and saying no:

•Saying no can allow you to try new things. Just because you've always helped plan the company softball tournament doesn't mean you have to do it forever. Saying no gives you time to pursue other interests.

•Always saying yes isn't healthy. When you're overcommitted and under too much stress, you're more likely to feel run-down and possibly get sick.

•Saying yes can cut others out. On the other hand, when you say no, you open the door for others to step up. They may not do things the way you would, but that's OK. They'll find their own way

Set Boundaries: Be flexible with your commitments, but set parameters and guidelines. Don’t let people take advantage of your time and resources based on your willingness to participate. If you volunteer your time, do so in a reasonable amount. If something or someone makes you uncomfortable, then respectfully let them know or remove yourself from the situation. Set expectations from the beginning, and you will be happier along the way. Be consistent with what you deliver, and what you ask of others.

Take Breaks & Unwind:  Too much of one thing isn’t always beneficial. At work, be sure to take frequent water breaks, have a snack, or just take a quick walk. Your body is not meant to stay seated for long periods of time, and your mind needs a break from constant activity. Give yourself a “day off” once in a while to just relax without having to be on some else’s timeline. Take a long shower or bath, light some candles, get a massage, or take a trip! Even if it’s a 2-3 hour road trip out of town, get away for a day or so. Goodness, our grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, and errands all have to be factored in to our schedules, and sometimes all we want to do (and deserve) is to just have a lazy day once in a while.

Increase your productivity: Block out time to complete your tasks. Your “TO DO” list keeps growing as you check items off, but just remember that you can only do one thing at a time. Plan to tend to your errands, meetings, activities, and personal obligations at certain times/days. Switch your phone on Airplane Mode for an hour or two to avoid calls/texts/social media distractions while you’re “in the zone.” Try not to waste time. If a project seems daunting, just start it, complete it, and check it off your list- a sense of accomplishment is relieving and invigorating.  This podcast has AMAZING tips to enhance your productivity, time, and energy & attention.

Spend your time on tasks, and with people that are beneficial to your short term but also long term happiness. Key takeaway: everything is better in moderation.