Let’s cut to the chase right away – you’ve got a lot going on. You’re probably second-guessing why you’re reading this, because there’s no way you have time to sit down! I feel you, fam. That’s a normal part of living in this crazy, busy world. You are not alone, even if you feel like you’re the only woman who doesn’t have it all together.
The real issue is that you’ve got too many tabs open. Not on your browser (which, maybe you do). I’m talking about in life. (I really like metaphors, so just go with it for a minute.) You’ve got at least three tabs open at work dealing with administrative issues, future projects, and day-to-day tasks. Then you’ve got a few more home tabs open, trying to plan what’s for dinner this week, when you’re going to get the laundry done, and how to sneak in time with your friends or family. And if you’ve got kids, the tabs multiply exponentially, because each one has their own schedule that you’re responsible for managing. And now your computer is running at turtle speed because you’ve got too many tabs open.
What do you do about it? Do you keep clicking from tab to tab, trying to chip away at everything all at once? If so, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re never going to get anything done. You might look like you’re juggling it all, but inside you feel like a failure because you’re not accomplishing what you’d hoped to do.
It’s not wrong to have a lot going on at once. Your involvement with things makes you well-rounded and shows that you’re a hustler. But that doesn’t mean you need to do all the things, all the time. You’re only human, after all! So to help you out, here are three tips to staying sane with a busy schedule.
Be present in your current environment.
If you’re at work, keep your work tabs open. You might have to juggle a few things at once (trust me, I’m a teacher). That’s okay – you’ve got this! Make a to-do list for the day and chip away at each thing at the appropriate time. And if it’s time to go home, leave work at work. It will still be there tomorrow and you will crush it then like a total boss.
If you’re at home, let me repeat myself: leave work at work. When you go home, you’re putting on another hat for the people that need you there in that role. My husband needs me to do certain things for him, and vice versa. It’s really hard to serve your significant other when you’re simultaneously trying to navigate work-related issues. As for your kids, they literally need you to survive, let alone to be nurtured and loved. If you’ve got work tabs open at home, you will ultimately burn out, and your family will just feel burned.
I love this quote by Jim Elliot: “Wherever you are, be all there.” I think he states it perfectly, and it helps us give our best to the people that need us in our current environment.
Check in with yourself.
Usually people are blindsided by busyness because they haven’t checked in with themselves along the way. Every time you’re presented with a new task or responsibility, weigh it out. Is it a passion or gift of yours? Will it benefit others or build your experience? Where will it fall within your current schedule? If you answer these questions and still feel overwhelmed, then maybe you need to close a tab in order to open a new one. Make sure you’re having these real conversations with those who are asking more of you. Chances are, they are asking you to take on another task because they see your strengths and believe that you’re capable – but you know yourself best. The people who care about you and want you to thrive will not ask you to take on more than you can handle.
It’s also okay to say no to things. This is really delicate, because you want to prove that you’re hard-working and generous with your time and talent; at the same time, you don’t want to become overwhelmed and burned-out. If you check in with yourself and realize that you’re starting to feel symptoms of burnout, then don’t agree to another task until you can manage what you currently have. That doesn’t make you a failure – it shows self-awareness and a dedication to the responsibilities you already have on your plate. It also doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to say yes to that opportunity down the road.
And don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it! It’s okay to delegate if you have the opportunity to do so. If you’re a perfectionist, you might struggle with entrusting a task to someone else, but it may improve your focus on other important tasks.
Learn to organize!
Make a master list of everything that needs to get done this week. (It’s going to look enormous and terrifying! It’s okay. Deep breaths.) Once you've got a master list, divide those tasks between days of the week so that you have a mini-list each day. (There – that’s not so bad, right?)
But here’s the kicker – schedule the fun stuff too. Personal time and quality time with family often take the back burner when we’re busy. Not only is that unfair to them, but it’s unfair to yourself and to your sanity! Just like how scheduling a cheat meal every now and then saves you from bingeing on junk food, scheduling fun and relaxing activities during the craziness can save you from crashing and burning at the end of the week.
If you’re as Type-A as me, you’re loving the idea of making lists and schedules. In order to stay consistent, you will also need to schedule a time every week to create your weekly schedule. It’s like schedule inception. I know that sounds nuts, but it’ll keep you consistent and accountable if you’re in the habit of list-making at the same time every Sunday night (or whenever it makes sense for you).
If you’re Type-B and this all seems like a huge drag, I get it. And while I do believe that the scheduling part will ultimately benefit you, I also want to point out your strengths. Rejoice, Type-B people! Y’all get it done, even if it’s not perfect. And that’s where Type-A’s like myself can take a page out of your book. We’re over here trying to accomplish every task down to the smallest meticulous detail while you’ve already finished because you’re focused on the big-picture product. That’s a skill that I had to learn in college in order to manage my workload, and I’m still figuring it out in the real world!
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations on giving yourself a breather from this crazy, busy life! I hope you’ve come away with some practical advice on how to manage your endless list of tasks. Let me know in the comments below if you have your own helpful ways to deal with a hectic schedule!