As summer drew to a close and we slowly started to get ready to start the new school year, I consciously tried to maintain the calm and relaxed feeling that emerged over the summer holidays.
Sometimes the to do lists seem never ending. There are often many lists. Some of the items stay on the lists for many months (get on top of social media, write weekly blog posts, sort photos, sort out pension and so much more). There are work lists and kids’ lists. There are home lists and general life admin lists. When I think back to just before last summer, I remember losing things. I misplaced things on a daily basis. I was driving myself mad! I had so much going on in my head that it was like there was just no more space in my brain to process, complete tasks and be fully productive.
I was thinking back to when the summer holidays came in early August. Even though I work for myself and it’s so tempting to keep going, I knew that I had to turn my brain off for a few weeks and let it recharge. The boss at Clearbird kindly signed off on three weeks annual leave, which was a blessing. Even though I did check my emails occasionally and didn’t manage to disconnect from Facebook, I did successfully disconnect from that world of diaries and to do lists, where sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between what’s really a priority and what’s not.
A family holiday with four children isn’t exactly what I’d call relaxing but it was definitely recharging. Long walks on beautiful beaches, building sandcastles, hours of card games with the kids (we staycationed in Ireland that year!) and just spending time as a family and with friends was what the heart, soul and mind needed. It was a pleasure not to have to rush anywhere, be bound by timelines or make packed lunches.
So for the rest of the year, when we’re back in busy mode and everything has ramped up again, I try to hang on to some of the things from holiday time to maintain that feeling of calm and keep the feeling of overwhelm at bay. Whether you’re a SAHM, employed or self-employed, these strategies and tips might help you manage those days when everything just seems too much.
My current motto is ‘do less in order to do more’. I very often try to put too many things in a given amount of hours and can end up rushing from one task, activity, or meeting to the other. This is definitely one of the things that I enjoyed most about the summer – not rushing and not trying to fit too much into a day. I know that we all benefit from it. I’m happier and less stressed and the kids are happier and feel less pressured. What does slowing down mean for you and what would it do for you?
Shorter Daily To Do Lists
I know that September brings longer lists with everything that needs to be done in the short-, medium- and long-term. Try to be realistic about what you can achieve in the day. Realign your expectations of yourself with your reality. For the few weeks at the end of summer, when I’m more of a full-time mum and am spending a bit less time on my business, I limit myself to three work related things per day that I can realistically achieve around family time. I know that I feel like I’m achieving more if I can tick off those three things instead of feeling like I’m achieving little if I have a list of ten things and just tick off three. This list gets longer for the rest of the year but my intention is to keep the daily lists for business and life admin realistic.
Chunk It Down
When it just seems like there’s so much to do, it’s hard to know where to start. So you don’t. You push it back to another day. One of the keys to managing overwhelm is to chunk it down. Forget about the end result and all that you have to do for a moment. What is the first thing, and then the second thing and then the third thing that you need to do. Start with that, no more. The rest will follow.
Get Enough Sleep
For me, this means going to bed just a little bit earlier. Going to bed on time means the morning flows better. Less rushing, more patience and a clearer head to be more focused.
However, that hour after everyone has gone to bed is so tempting to spend on mindless TV and social media or catching up on a few emails or other things that I can do in peace. But as enticing as it is, I know that the pros for getting to bed on time normally outweigh the ‘in the moment’ joy of that quiet hour or two. Perhaps striking a balance and getting to bed earlier even 2-3 nights per week is good enough for this one.
This came up recently when Orla Hyland (www.motherearth.ie) spoke at a recent Enterprising Women Network event. I know that journaling or, in particular, writing about gratitude is a great practice but not something that I regularly fit into my day however good my intentions are. But Orla helped me realise at a different level how lucky I am and how much I have to be grateful for. Sometimes, it’s good to stop and reflect on that. When the overwhelm comes back, I try to remember to be grateful for the situation I find myself in, the situation that I’ve created and also to know that I have the resources to work through it.
Focus On Being Present
Easier said than done. At work, this means getting things done, working systematically through the list. If one item seems particularly challenging, daunting or overwhelming, break it down into bite-size chunks so that progress is being made and keep moving forward. At home, this means knowing that I am where I am with work and switching off the iPhone. This means sitting on the floor and playing, listening to whatever is going on with the kids and trying not to be sidelined with cooking, tidying, emails and whatever else distracts me. This is probably the point that is one of the hardest for me.
Make Time For You
In September, honestly, there isn’t much time for me. As we all settle into a new routine, kids with new activities, new teachers, resetting Clearbird for the year ahead. Every year, this all takes more time and effort than I remember from the year before. But once the dust has settled, it’s time to focus on what I need to do for me. Prioritising ourselves comes up again and again with clients, friends and families. Another easier said than done.
Say no more. At night, when I’m settling to sleep and my mind is racing. In the mornings, when I’m getting impatient with the kids to get dressed and ready and out the door. Throughout the day and at the end of the day, when things get just that little bit too crazy, I try to remember to breathe. And I might just get around to consistently using Headspace and practicing mindfulness more frequently.
Take Out Your Colouring Book!
Before the summer, I had picked up on the new trend of colouring. As the end of year busyness kicked in, my colouring book (Art Therapy for Busy People) was left to the side. But now, my very own colouring pencils are resharpened and my colouring book is back in my handbag. When I need to calm myself down or find a moment that I’m not rushing, that creative, slower, mindful, simple activity of just colouring is a great technique to bring calm back into the day.
Taking the time to stop, reflect, re-focus and re-energise helps you to set yourself up to succeed. Why not contact us to find out more about our group and 1:1 coaching and mentoring programmes.
Helping you to find your mojo.
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