5 Tools for Staying Sane During Hectic Days


This week has been a particularly busy one for me and it's only Tuesday!

In preparing for the week, I reflected on how we manage our many tasks and appointments on hectic days - without completely falling apart or giving up. I also considered people in my own life who are especially skilled at managing their time and, one in particular, who seems to do so effortlessly and without a hint of stress (she might not be human, come to think of it). In actuality, time management is something we can get better at - with practice - and we can even do so while staying cool, calm and collected. But how?

  1. Prosperity is in the Planning: the only thing worse than a busy day with lots to do, is a disorganized calendar and task list. In planning out your day, you can prioritize what is most important and figure out blocks of time for getting things done. I suggest putting everything into your calendar so you can visually see what the day will look like. Start with any appointments (since those have specific times) and then fill in the blank spaces with other items on your to-do list. Don't forget to add in time for meals and breaks!

  2. Start with Serenity: the key to surviving - and thriving - through your busy schedule is to start on the right foot. Pressing snooze on your alarm, scrolling through emails on your phone with your eyes barely open, and skipping breakfast may seem like a good idea when you're facing a long day ahead but really they will only increase your cortisol (stress hormone) and decrease your productivity. Instead, try waking up early (ideally after 8 hours of sleep) and meditating, moving your body, and having a healthy meal before you dive in. This will signal your nervous system that everything is A-okay and allow it to save energy for the long day ahead.

  3. Have an Attitude of Gratitude: for most of us, our daily routine may feel monotonous, frustrating, or inconvenient but turning your mindset around and focusing on what you are thankful for can frame your day in a brand new light. Instead of bemoaning how much you have to do today, consider how lucky you are to be healthy enough to be able to do it. Try thinking about the 'worst' item on your to-do list and focusing on what's positive about it (hint: it's also good to get the things you least want to do completed early in your day since you are more likely to worry about them and procrastinate).

  4. Do Away with Distractions: we've all been there - we sit down to our computer, ready to go, and we hear that little ping on our phone and get swept up in a group text. Or we go to look something up online and end up getting caught in the worm-hole of 'must-see most adorable pet' videos. Before you know it, hours may go by being completely derailed from what you set out to do. We may think we can overpower our temptations but the best way to stay focused is to keep distractions away. Put your phone on silent, take notifications off your emails, and close your office door. Worried about missing an important email? No problem - add time in your schedule for checking and responding to your communications (see number 1).

  5. Bring in Your Breath: even if you follow tips 1 through 4, you may still find yourself feeling frazzled and overwhelmed at times. This is where the magic of our breath comes in. Three slow, deep breaths can work wonders on our nervous system and if you have time, a short booster meditation or mindful walk is even better. Although it may be hard to 'justify' a break for self-care, remember that you are actually giving your body the fuel it needs to get back on track and finish out the day.

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© 2015 by Lindsay Goodlin, LCSW  License #28280