This week has been the start of my hella stressful 10 days. I have periods of life like this occasionally where my days are just unavoidably jam packed and that’s the way it is. Since I started working with time management these insanely busy times are less and less. But it’s like Christmas hols with a lot of family parties or the 3 deadlines that coincide with your child’s 11th birthday and your best friend’s 40th birthday sometimes you just can’t get out things that are happening all at once. And if like me you have a time pressured life already, these intensely hectic busy periods can leave you exhausted and burned out. And we don’t want that. The answer to avoiding this post hyper-active busy period burn outs is relatively simple
When you are insanely busy that ‘s the time, more than ever, that you need to prioritise RnR
I know. I know. It seems impossible. But trust me if you can learn this art you will probably still end up tired, that’s unavoidable yet, you will be less tired and will ultimately avoid burn out.
The key is all about how you prioritise both the things you have to do and your R and R.
Take my next 10 days. In this time I have 32 coaching sessions, am teaching 4 workshops, travelling up and down the country, have 3 articles to publish and won’t be at home for 6 nights. By anyone’s standards this is insanely busy. But here I am on day three and to be honest although I know I am busy I feel relatively relaxed and grounded. How? you ask. Well it’s the result of some major planning. When I have a busy period coming up I have a few planning tricks that get great results and give me the down time I need to get me through it.
If you have a busy period coming up these tools will help you glide through it without creating intense or worse, irreversible time pressure stress damage.
Pre busy period preparation
9 times out of 10 we know when a busy period is coming up in our calendars. Which means we can take advantage of some tactical planning. Look at the weeks before and after the hella busy point and schedule in your calender times before and after where you can recharge your batteries. For example I have refused all social activities for the last 2 weekends to give me time at home.
And don’t just stop at planning your time. You can use these weeks to get you prepared for the busy time. You might not have time to do any major house cleaning during your busy time so do it before then you can be happy with putting a minimal effort when life get’s hetic. I for example knew that I wouldn’t be able to do washing due to not being home so I did the whole damn lot before I went away so it won’t seem insurmountable when I get back. Ialso know that when I get back I won’t have much energy to cook for the week after I return so the freezer is now full of easy dinners for me to heat up such as lasagne, jacket potatoes and quiche.
Basically the pre busy period is about being aware of where your energy will be during and after and preparing what you need to make life simpler during that time.
Cut down non-essential tasks
Before your busy period decide what you can cut out during that time. Is it really that important for you to go running every morning during that hella busy week or is it more important to make sure you get the sleep you need and run 3 times less? Do you really have to tidy the whole garden or can you get away with just cutting the grass? Which tasks can you put on pause or spend less time at work on, to make sure you can put your energy into meeting your deadline? You have to be really honest and sharp in your prioritising here. And don’t you dare designate all r n r moments as non-essential. Yes you can cut them down but DO NOT remove them! During my busy time I have cut my training down from 2 times a week. It’s given me 2 extra evenings to recharge and go to bed early.
By making the decision to cut down on non essential tasks beforehand, you will avoid the guilt loop during your busy time. You won’t be thinking ‘oh I should be doing this, that and the other’ because you know that you are doing what you really need to do and there will be time later for that. That guilt loop takes a lot of energy by removing it you will have more energy for yourself.
Plot in your R n R buffers
The R n R buffers are important for pre, during and post busy time. Don’t just leave the periods of down time empty. Plot a few activites in that you know will give you an energy boost. Last weekend I dedicated a little time to doing a jigsaw puzzle and watching a series. It’s not something I do often but it gave me alot of energy without taxing my brain too much. I also popped in an extra swim and sauna last week knowing I would be not training as much in the next 14 days. I have another weekend planned with nada, nothing which will be dedicated to some easy creative projects, the dark crystal series and cosy time in my garden to recover.
The most important R n R buffers are of course during the busy time. Look at your schedule and block out sometime for yourself. Wether it’s an hour before bed where you wind down, setting yourself the goal of completing one thing that will make you happy and putting time aside for it or simply designating a 30 minute earlier bedtime so you can unwind with a book put it in and STICK TO IT!
So for example my r and r buffer is going to be a morning off for a swim and a sauna during my busy week and making it important to unwind after 21:00 each evening. It’s these little things that really help to keep your energy up and burn out away.
Check in with your energy
During your busy period you have to check in with your energy levels. When we think of be productive we often plan after out tasks rather that whether or not we have the energy to complete them. That there. Right there. Is the recipe for burnout. I check in with myself in the morning when I look at my todo list and once again at the end of my working day. When you check in you ask yourself where is my energy at? What can I cope with today? And prioritise after that. If you are low and have an intense day then it is totally ok to drop making dinner from scratch and order a takeaway (and we are so lucky in this day and age that there are many healthy takeaway options).Do I have to call my friend tonight or can I use that ten minutes to do something my body needs like yoga or meditation?
Planning after my energy levels has seriously been the most effective tool I have found in managing my busy periods and staying mentally healthy. It allows me to think realistically and accept what I can do, what I can’t and focus on the former.
Prioritising your R n R during an insanely busy period is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself
Surprisingly it makes you more effective in your life, brings peace of mind and lightens up times that could have been so stressful. These tools take no longer than 5 – 10 minutes of your time and are simple to implement. After a while you won’t notice you are doing it.
What you will notice is that when you prioritise your R n R in a hectic life period you will have less breakdowns and be happier – and after all isn’t that what we all want in life
How are you going to prioritise your R n R in the next busy period? Let me know in the comments below
Have a wonderful weekend