A few weeks ago, I had the bright notion of writing down all my current projects, commitments and goals. It covered a full page in a regular spiral notebook.
“Aha,” says I. “No wonder I feel so busy.”
I really felt the power of the list this Monday morning. I had already gone to my stats class (which I’m auditing), and I didn’t have “work”-work until 5:30, but the list of things I could be doing in that intervening 6 hours was overwhelming, not to mention a newly exploding tutoring calendar thanks to midterms and October standardized test dates. I was already tired, feeling sick, and not able to cope with all of these demands.
So as a reference to myself, here are ways to cope when it’s crunch time:
Stay off social media (and email, sort of). This is huge for me. Nothing make me feel more overwhelmed than falling behind on my twitter feed, or the emails I get re: projects of which I am a member, but not the lead. In the grand scheme of things, they should be a secondary consideration. So I do check my twitter (and email, obviously), but I try not to do it continuously throughout the day. Instead I’ll do a quick scan/triage at two points during the day (usually lunch time and late evening for me) and then concentrate on other things.
Do one thing at a time.
Make (short) (detailed) lists. If I write out everything I have to do, even if it’s as mundane as “put away the dishes when I get home”, I get the satisfaction of crossing at least some things off at the end of the day.
Take (intentional) breaks. Most of us take breaks while we’re working, whether we realize it or not, because there’s only so long you can focus in one shot. But there’s a difference between a I’m-descending-into-a-youtube-vortex break and a I’ll-go-outside-and-people-watch-for-fifteen-minutes break.
Say no. I’m terrible at this.