Molly (Mothersalwaysright.wordpress.com) has a wedding coming up, and as she says she’s drowning in porridge.
I sympathize. Stress has been an almost constant companion of mine since high school. I don’t even have half as good an excuse as Molly, I just over-schedule myself and then rush to reach appointments I really knew would be too much to me, but that I couldn’t turn down.
Much musing and late-night glasses of red wine have made me realize why I do this: I can’t bear the thought of missing out. What if I say no to this French class and it means I never learn a fourth language? What if I turn down this low-paying writing gig and it could have been a steppingstone to future fame? What if I say no to this party and I miss out on an opportunity to make new friends?
I could look at this in a glass half-empty way and say that I have to learn to say no and realize that if I try to say yes to everything, it will ultimately mean not enjoying anything (I am working on that). But today, I’m going to look at it in a glass half-full way and say that constant over-scheduling have taught me a set of tools to handle stress well. Tools I’ll share with you.
My rescue plan for when I’m stressed out of my mind and need to get more stuff done than I have time for:
1. Schedule in a meeting with yourself to get on top of things. Preferably first thing in the morning.
2. Spend 30 minutes writing down every single thing you have to get done. This includes anything and everything from buying new light bulbs, to finishing your copy editing work.
3. Once you have everything you need to get done down on paper, look over the list and remove everything that isn’t pressing. Don’t delete it or toss it, just move it into the “after-the-wedding/other-deadlines”-pile. They’re gone for now.
4. Then look over the other things and see which ones would take less than five minutes to complete. Do them now.
5. Then add up the rest of the things depending on where you’ll do them. Anything that needs to be gotten outside the house, put under errands. Everything that’s done online, put under computer. Everything that’s done around the house, put under home. And so on. This way, you can get all the shopping done at once without forgetting to buy two things and then having to go back out.
6. Look at the things remaining on your list. How many have set dates? Program them into your calender and remember to schedule notices from your calender program so you don’t forget to show up (this happens to me a lot).
7. Rate the rest of the things on the list depending on importance and due date and do them in that order.
8. Remember that laundry, healthy eating and cleaning can all be postponed until you’re through the stressful period. Your life is better when you do them, but it’s not crucial.
9. Remember to take a little time off every day to recharge your batteries. If you’re stressed out all the time, you won’t be as efficient. I know this point is hard when your mind is reeling with all the stuff you should be doing. I usually work out, because there’s no room in my head for anything other than the exercise while I’m doing it. Sex is also good for this.
How do you handle stressful periods? Any tips or tricks?