Sometimes I wish there were that many, anyway. 24 hours never seems to be quite enough time to do everything I want to do.
Part of it is that I love everything I’m doing, and that is a good problem to have. Part of it is that I commute a pretty long way to work, and public transportation is not an option. But because I love my job so much, that’s okay.
And part of it is that, honestly, I have really crappy automatic responses to stress. They look something like this:
I look at what is coming up in the next few weeks, and I get overwhelmed. (Actually, this was supposed to be a self-portrait of me cheering for the Chicago Bulls. But really, it looks more like “Lauren freaking out with a fist of rage!” so go with it.)
Immediately upon coming home, I drop everything in my arms where ever I feel like it. My “side” of the bedroom begins to look like this. (I cannot believe I am posting this picture.)
Brilliant, right? My to-do list is already overflowing, so I’ll just make a mess and let the laundry pile up. So at this point, I just continue on a downward spiral. I am frustrated and overwhelmed with the amount of work I already had, plus the additional work I created for myself. My response is always the same.
Avoid, avoid, avoid. Sleep. Read other people’s blogs. Maybe update my own blog, though that borders on productive. Watch Glee. Bake cookies. Basically, anything that I shouldn’t do or don’t have time to do, I do.
It becomes nearly impossible to convince myself to swim, bike, run, clean my house… you know, do productive things.
I squeak by. I get the work done that I have to do. I am (mostly) able to convince myself to do my workouts. Eventually… eventually… a weekend appears that is unexpectedly free. I become inspired to tackle everything that I have left in disarray and the house sparkles and shines, the laundry is done, and I am all caught up. I swear up and down that this will never, ever happen again.
It always does.
I’m working on it.
In the meantime, here are some things that seem to help me at least go longer between these periods of “AHHH-OMG-HOW-IS-THERE-SO-MUCH-TO-DO?!”
- I make short to-do lists each day. Sometimes I have a “master” to-do list going of everything that I need to get done. That list is far too overwhelming to look at on a daily basis, so each morning, I write down 3 – 5 things I want to accomplish that day. If I get them all done, and still have energy, great! I can always add more. But this number is manageable without making me feel overwhelmed.
- I say “no.” Sometimes I even say “no” to things I’d really like to do, because I just don’t have time to do them. I will admit that this is a work in progress, but I’m learning to accept that I can’t do everything I want to do. Doing a few things well is so much better than spreading yourself thin and doing a mediocre job at a lot of things.
- I plan my day the night before. I repeat my tasks to myself until I’m positive I believe them. It’s sort of Rebecca Black-like. “Tomorrow is Wednesday. On Wednesday, I have work and Girls on the Run practice. I have a bike workout. I am going to work, eat dinner, coach Girls on the Run, and then come home and bike. If I have downtime during work, I am going to write a blog post for Outside the Girl Box. I need to work on an ad for Girls on the Run.”
- Throughout the day, if I’m losing steam, sometimes I will add an incentive. I bribe myself. As I’m driving home from work, I might tell myself, “You are not going to sit down on the couch. You’re going to go home and bike. Then you can relax with a book before bed.”
- I focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking just never works the way I want it to.
- Most importantly, I forgive myself. I try to stop obsessing about the messy house or the fact that I let responsibilites pile up. It happens. Once it happens, all I can do is keep going.
What do you do to stay balanced? How do you make sure you accomplish everything on your to-do list? I’d love to hear more ideas!
And before I go… the song that inspired my title. (Since I know not everyone is a Hanson fan. Sad but true.)