Sometimes there is just way too much to do and if I told you to make a to-do list or set priorities you’d just want to smash me. And I don’t blame you, I’d feel that way too.
Now, truth be told (and I’m risking getting smashed here) sometimes the busyness is a symptom of something else that’s underlying that you may not want to deal with. I get that too, because I’ve been there as well.
But sometimes you’re dealing with circumstances that need to be front and center and will take up a lot of your time. I call this the busy season and it’s not like an accountant at tax time — it’s more like you’re:
At a new job so you’re spending extra time ramping up
Helping an older or sick parent, sibling, spouse or friend
Dealing with a child who needs extra care and attention
Managing a big project at work
Launching a new business on the side
The reality is that these things may go on for a while (yes, even longer than tax season). And while it can be difficult and trying, there are things you can do to make this “season” of your life a little more palatable.
Getting super efficient isn’t the answer.
When we’re too busy it may make sense to buckle down and try to get even more done. Make a list, plan it out, get it on the calendar. Crank through the work. Get things under control. I am SO guilty of this myself. But the thing is, there is very little we are actually in control of. We are in control of how we show up and how we do the work — this is incredibly important — but we’re not always in control of what’s going on around us (like all hell breaking loose).
#1. Get into kairos time. The Greek word for time is chronos, which is chronological time. But another way to view time is through the lens of kairos time, which is more about the experience. In Stephen Covey’s book First Things First he says, “the essence of kairos time is how much value you get out of it rather than how much chronos time you put in to it.”
So instead of thinking about just trying to get through the days are there blocks of time where you can slow down and try to experience the time? Now I get, you may be so overwhelmed you may be thinking, “why would I want to slow down and experience this sh*t show?”. But stay with me — what about experiencing a hot shower in the morning — even if its quick?
#2. Consider that imbalance is ok. We hear so much about work/life balance. Is it a myth? Is it attainable? But what about if we consider that in some seasons of our life, one of our roles will take precedence over another?
Here’s what I mean. Say you’re dealing with an aging parent. You may need to have more flexibility in your schedule to be there and so this means that you may not apply for a job with more responsibility… for now.
Or say you want to start a business while you’re still working full time and have two kids. This may mean you don’t get to every soccer game, you hire someone to clean your house and maybe you eat a lot of takeout… for now.
Remember, when we’re dealing with this kind of imbalance it’s for a period of time, but not forever.
#3. Keep a someday list. When I take my clients through The To-Do List makeover, I have them create a someday list. It’s a place to capture those big ideas, random ideas and to-dos that we need to get done — but not right now. My someday list includes getting my TSA clearance and finally organizing all the pictures on my iPhone. Believe me, these things are not happening any time soon, but they’re on a list and out of my head and that makes me feel better.
#4. Take care of yourself. Find the places where you can slow down and put in some quality time to take care of yourself. This does not mean a week off at Canyon Ranch (although that sounds good to me!) or even a day off.
It could mean turning off your phone and reading for 15 minutes or going for a walk down the block.
My Sunday-am ritual is to leave my phone at home, go to the local diner with my New York Times and read the Sunday Style section from cover to cover. The guys at the diner keep my coffee cup full and for an hour I’m in another place. Check out my favorite podcast for some more great ideas.
#5. Start to think about your bigger picture. Once this season passes, what do you want to be doing? Day dream about it and get real specific with the details. How will you feel? What are you wearing? What are you talking about? Who are you hanging out with? Then start to take these teeny specifics and see where you can start adding them into your life now. Yup, like today.
Some of you know about my triathlon story. I got the idea to do it when I was super busy at work. At the time, I just did not have the time to dedicate to training, but I started thinking about it and that put the wheels in motion. Finally, when that crazy season at work had passed, I made the time to start training. I did a freaking triathlon (!) and it and it really changed my life.
Remember, it’s not forever
So when there is just way to much to do, please don’t despair. Remember this is a season, it will not be that way forever and then try to embrace it. You may actually look back at this time as your greatest teacher.