Back at the end of May when my husband and I decided that he would take on extra overtime over the summer, we sat down and looked over our budget and our remaining debt. We made a plan and made projections on a nice little spreadsheet. It looked like we were going to end up finally hitting the debt free mark by the end of September. We were excited, though we knew it was going to be incredibly hard work.
Fast forward several weeks. We are now heading into August. Summer has blown by us as we’ve done our best to hold onto our hats and not be blown away by the constant work and busy-ness (when he’s gone I’m full-time Mom. Getting it all done means up at 6am and falling into bed near midnight). We’ve definitely been burning the candle at both ends. We’ve struggled and staggered a few times from the sheer lack of time together and time off (he was gone to another city a good portion of the time and he generally works 12-14 hour days due to what he does for a living). The hardest and busiest parts are mostly behind us. I was reminded during this time of ramped up responsibility and work of an important rule:
If you aren’t careful being busy can actually slow you down!
Having the opportunity to get ahead a little faster has been fantastic, though at times overwhelming. As we’ve found in the past, being too busy can definitely make you feel like you’re trying to walk the narrow path while wearing swimming goggles while not having had enough sleep or coffee. You swerve and trip a lot more and this slows down your progress. Even when you have a map. There’s a fine line between being productively busy and so busy we start doing expensive, convenience oriented things that really get in the way of the direction we’ve been heading. You have to find the balance. If you don’t, being too busy will simply slow you down.
So what can you do to keep from letting being too busy slow YOU down?
Here are the things that have helped me to stay on track:
- Make a plan and put it on paper (or in your computer or in your smartphone if you need to-but don’t let it just float around in your head).
- Stay organized: Stick to a routine. Make a short highly prioritized list and stick to it. For me-I have a 5 item rule when I’m super busy. If I don’t stick to the top five items that must get done that day my list can be 20 line-items long and it’s overwhelming.
- Plan in some breathing room once a week and let that be your steam valve for the pressure. Plan a simple dinner that produces minimal mess: sandwiches, leftovers, or, if you really need to-inexpensive take out. Knowing a good weekly break is in the works helps you keep working through the tougher days.
- Think of being really busy like marathon training: there are days for your long runs and short runs. But if you run long every day you will ultimately injure yourself.
- Prioritize getting enough rest and staying healthy. If you have a good foundation under you every day, you can do quality work.
- Remember that multi tasking is overrated. It’s often not more productive than focusing on one important thing at a time.
- Give yourself a finite amount of time to get something done so you don’t procrastinate important stuff.
- Use the rewards system: If you hate dealing with a particular task (the budget and bills for instance), plan to give yourself a treat when you get it done. Something small but very satisfying (Chocolate is good! ) can work wonders.
- Take time out to laugh with the people you love daily. It helps the tough stuff melt away.
- Pat your own back when you get through your list every day. Rinse. Repeat.
- If there is no end in sight to being busy, find small end points and calendar them. If you have a time marker on the calendar to break up a busy life-it helps! One of the best lessons I learned during military deployments was to break that long year of separation from my husband into 3 month chunks. On my calendar I had something great to look forward to quarterly. Sometimes it was something as simple as a visit with my mom or going to a fun even with a friend. Having those marks on the calendar helped break up the long tedium into manageable chunks.
Do you have a tip that helps you get through your busiest times? I’d love to add it to the list in the Comments!