It can be a daunting thing to flip your planner over to the next week and see it completely and utterly jam packed. Oh, gawd. Every project, deadline, meeting, and test seems to have finagled it's way into one five day time period, and you're left wondering how to stay calm when super busy. Surely you won't make it out alive from that one? At least not without bags and strong coffee withdrawal shakes. But instead of being resigned to be done under during the next week, why don't you prepare yourself instead to knock it out of the park.
We all experience jam-packed weeks every once in a while, and they don't need to break our spirits or make us groan. Instead, if you keep your spirits up with a few clever tricks and reframe the way you look at a busy planner, you might even make it out on top come Friday. So roll up those sleeves, grab the war paint, and get ready to kick that massive to-do's butt. You've completely got this. Below are seven tips and tricks on how to stay zen with an overloaded schedule — because if you're that busy, then you've got to be doing something right!
1. Make The Morning Yours
If you're on the cusp of a super busy week, a great way to stay sane before plunging in to it is to start your day off on a personal note. Instead of using your mornings as a diving board to the work day and answering emails or getting started on projects, use the hour as "me time." This'll keep you balanced and will start your morning off on a happy note.
Lifestyle writer Chitra Desikan at Lifehack said, "If your morning starts with reading the news or checking your email while sipping your first cup of coffee or tea and solving problems on your drive to work, then you might be jolting your body into a state of over-stimulation before it is ready." Instead ease yourself in with a good book, a fancy pastry, or a scroll through an inspiring feed.
2. Similarly, Use The Evenings To Get You Ready For The Next Day
Then when you get home, use your evening hours to get ready for the next morning to keep you from rushing like a wildling in the early hours. Pack your lunch, lay out your clothes, write out a list of to-dos, and get your bag and keys ready by the door so you don't have to focus on tediums when you wake up.
Melody Wilding, licensed therapist and contributor to career development site The Muse, advised, "Then, at the end of the day, make a point to go to bed at the same time each evening (more or less), and designate some time beforehand to wind down by reading, jotting down tomorrow’s to-dos, or another calming routine that isn’t in front of a screen." By using those hours before bed to get yourself ready for the next hectic day, you'll cut out a lot of unnecessary stress.
3. Literally Schedule Some Me-Time Into Your Planner Every Day
If your schedule is packed to the gills, you definitely need to build in an oasis into your time slots to give yourself a breather. Take your planner and literally pencil in a half hour every day to do something that's just for you.
Wilding offered, "Try getting in early to take advantage of the empty office, or, if most days you’re starved for a peaceful moment, pop on some headphones and jam out to your favorite Spotify station on the way to work. Or, taking lunch away from your desk — especially if you can find a quiet park or courtyard — is a great way to destress." By scheduling in something frivolous and relaxing into your nine to five, you'll have something to look forward to while you're powering through your beastly day.
4. See If You Can Shuffle Your Schedule Around
Sometimes not everything on our to-do list is 100% mandatory or necessary. During those stressful weeks, take a look at your schedule and see if all the tasks you're planning to tackle are completely necessary.
Desikan explained, "Start to prioritize your tasks and let a few of them go. Perhaps move some to another day. They will always be there for you when you wake up tomorrow. You’ll find yourself being more productive, more efficient, and more content." If something isn't time sensitive, move it a week over. Or, if the ship won't sink with you skipping a duty or two that week, then go ahead and cut it off your list. When things get overwhelming, just focus on the meet of your to-do list and let the fluffier tasks go to free up some more time.
5. Write Down The Type Of Person You Want To Be Under Pressure
A great way to center yourself when the whole office is in chaos is to sit down and think about what type of person you want to be when it comes to pressure. Take a moment and write down what kind of characteristics you want to embody, and how you want those around you to see you when things get tough. For example, when I get overwhelmed I want to make it out looking like Leslie Knope: Insanely motivated, excited to roll up her sleeves, and passionate about the amount of work she has on her desk daily.
According to Siimon Reynolds, performance coach and contributor to Forbes, "Write down the type of person you wish to be. Not your career goals, just the kind of human being you aspire to become...Be sure to include a sentence or two about remaining calm under pressure, being unattached, or perhaps staying optimistic in all circumstances." Then tape that paper above your desk and try to follow it as close as possible as you dive in to your inbox.
6. Try To Be Grateful For The Opportunities That Are Making You Busy
Another great way to stay zen when everything is hectic around you is to change your mindset on what it means to be busy. Instead of buckling under the weight of the pressure, try looking at that weight as a positive. You have all this work because either your company trusts your expertise enough to assign you projects, your business is taking off, your career is growing, or you're learning something challenging in class. These are all wonderful positives! And being grateful will physically reduce stress.
Libdsay Holmes, Health Living editor at Huffington Post said, "Research has found that those who were taught to cultivate appreciation and other positive emotions experienced a 23 percent reduction in cortisol — the key stress hormone — than those who did not." So throw up those thanks — your body will thank you for it.
7. Add A Little Bit Of Fun To Every Day
Lastly, to keep your brain from snapping be sure to add a little bit of fun to each of your day. Buy yourself a fancy latte on the way to work, or spend your evenings watching your favorite shows, trying out something new in the city, or just meeting with friends in a new restaurant. Desikan said, "Shifting your thoughts to something totally different from what you generally do all day will also help you unwind completely and feel mentally refreshed." So by the time you go to bed that night, you'll feel reset and balanced.
Even though your schedule is crazy hectic, it doesn't mean you have to slump through it until the mountain of work is done. You can still have a wonderful week, and you don't have to buckle under the pressure. Just keep these tips in mind and you'll fly through!