Over scheduled + Underproductive.
* So I first posted this in 2014 after an almost May to August work bender… I absolutely do not recommend anyone doing anything so bonkers but here’s how I mostly pulled it off and tips that now really do work to keep things sane with it gets crazy!
If you ask someone you bump into in the coffee shop or at the school drop off how their day is you’ll be quite used to hearing people say. Busy. Like busy covers everything somehow.
I caught myself saying it as I rushed from one thing to the next from one appointment to the next, even from fun enjoyable things like dinner with friends I was racing.
Now its likely that if this sounds like you, your what Dr Libby Weaver has coined a ‘rushing woman’ in her book Rushing Womens Syndrome. If you’ve had a treatment with me its at this point I would be talking to you about your Kidney energy and running on your adrenals.
What I did notice is that for me at this particular time I caught myself a good bit of the stress and the rush wasn’t just from the feeling that I had ‘so many things to do’ but from the feeling that I wasn’t actually getting the things I needed done…. and thats because I wasn’t.
I was over-scheduled and underproductive. So if this sounds like you I have a few tips that have really helped.
1. Step away from the coffee pot! I’m serious. Now I’m not going to tell you to stop drinking coffee…. although I may be suggesting that your relationship with it needs re-evaluation. Coffee is as Elmo says a ‘sometimes food’ and if you cant imagine your day being successful with out it (as I have been guilty of) then you may need some relationship counseling!
At the very least please don’t inhale that early morning cup on an empty stomach as its almost impossible to come back from the adrenalin blood sugar roller-coaster if you do. Hint …..its also almost impossible to think clearly and rationally if your brain is not getting an even stream of glucose.
2. If your were a triage nurse in a hospital how would you rate your to do list? The triage nurse is the person in charge of rating all the bleeding moaning and wounded that walk in the door so the most life threatening ailments get dealt with first. Apply this to your daily planner and the jobs that are at the bottom of this list that aren’t really that important you…
3. Delegate them Date them (for another day and time that is more spacious) or you Ditch them… seriously I have found old lists, usually in the bottom of a handbag somewhere with random stuff on the end of a list that has NEVER been done I often cant even remember why it would have warranted being put on the list in the first place. And for those times when you are truly very tightly scheduled and its just the way it is and you chose it that way (oh boy really!) Here’s three things that will get you through.
Mindfulness. You can only be where you are right now. So be there. Your breath will help with this.
So for example when your replying to emails thats all your doing. And breathing slow and steady into your belly to remind your body that there is no need to switch on adrenaline. You aren’t being chased by a saber tooth tiger your doing emails, or getting on board a plane, or treating clients. Thats it. (that thing that you do when your at you computer and you forget to breath, it has a name now, its called screen apnea, breath please people!)
And how do you stay so calm and mindful in that moment, without freaking out thinking fuck! I forgot to call xxxx.
Heres how: As far ahead as is possible and sensible set a day or a couple of days in a week depending on what sort work bender your going into and be Extremely Crazy Efficient. You sit yourself down look at the time frame of the work ahead and you brain storm every single last thing that you are going to need over that time frame for you to be organised on time well fed loved and happy. Everything. Are you going to need new warm socks, yes? well put them on the list right next to the flights and the hotel.
Heading these lists with dates or locations so you do them in order is a great way to start. So on my 30 day non-stop bender I had lists Headed Mudgee, Sydney, Melbourne, Sarah’s Party etc in order of when they were happening and on those list heart shaped post it notes with what I needed to do (I am rather visual!) I eventually sat each of these lists on top of piles of clothing or equipment that was needed for each event so as I got to it I could cross reference anything else I needed to grab as it happened. It’s much easier to sit down and do just the one type of thing and get it all done.
So go through and order everything that needs to be ordered, sourcing gifts booking hotels and flights. Then you know its all done and your not trying to multitask which we know that really doesn’t work. You might choose to have this all digitally organised (I am deeply attached to my post it notes) however you do it, having it all laid out really helps so when your tired and not possibly at your best you know its all waiting there for you. I’m a pretty small operation but this works even better in a bigger set up so you can send it out to your assistants to pick things up without having to hunt around.
Last but almost most importantly is Boundaries. Serious rock your socks boundaries. For this one we kinda need to bring back that triage nurse, where the triage nurse is now in charge of incoming phone calls and email requests for your time and energy. For a relatively short term work bender the answer will quite simply be no. Fullstop. No I’m completely fully booked ( or whatever your preferred term is) until the end of the month. Now the really important thing here is to NOT book yourself up the second your get back from the Bender (as I am affectionately calling it ) ……because then the bender isn’t really over, and truly you need to stop at some point. A good triage nurse will know if its really important eg that amazing meeting with that really fabulous contact you’ve been chasing and then a few other things might need to shuffle. Having said that timing really is everything and sometimes actually, quite often people will be prepared for you not to be available at the drop of a hat and it truly helps to cultivate this in your personal and business relationships. Next week I talk about how you recuperate from your little bender burn out. xx