Thursday, May 11, 2017

7 Tips for Keeping it Together When Life is Hectic (+ a Giveaway with JORD Watches!)

The following post is sponsored by JORD Watches. All opinions, tips, and thoughts are my own. 

Doesn't it seem like, just when you think life is about to slow down a bit, it always gets busier? Typically the last few weeks before summer vacation is when things slow down a lot for me at work, but that hasn't really been the case this year; if anything, I've been feeling more and more overwhelmed. Thankfully, I have a few tried and true tricks to keep myself on track and sane--and you too, if you're in the same boat.

1.Write it all down. I am a big believer in the to-do list. If it's not on paper (or at least in my phone), it won't get done. I tend to get tunnel vision when I'm working on a project, so seeing everything that I need to accomplish really helps me allocate my time and energy appropriately. Bonus points if you write down "due dates" next to your projects.

2. Prioritize. I like to break my to-do list into three categories: must-dos, should-dos, and could-dos. Must-dos are pretty self-explanatory--your life is going to be pretty rough if you don't get these done. That thing that your boss will fire you if you don't get it done? Must do. Getting groceries? Must do--starving yourself isn't an option. Should-dos are those things that aren't going away any time soon, but they aren't vital to your immediate functioning; things like laundry, cleaning your kitchen, or getting your oil changed might fall into this category (unless you've put them off and you're down to your last pair of clean underwear). Could-dos are those projects that you'd like to get around to, like alphabetizing your books, cataloging your vinyl, or scanning boxes of family photos. You "could do" them if you had extra time, but they're okay on the back burner for now. Once you have everything divided into these categories, it makes it a lot easier to figure out what to tackle first (especially if you included those due dates I mentioned in #1).

3. Say no. I'm a people pleaser, so I find it hard to say no sometimes. During really busy periods, though, it becomes a necessity. If someone is trying to add something else to your plate, it's okay to say "I really can't" or "not right now." Having boundaries is healthy! Saying no goes for yourself, too--it's easy to get overwhelmed and decide to just watch TV instead, or go out for a coffee break, but you'll end up even more behind and overwhelmed in the end. But that said, you also need to......

4. Schedule time for self-care.  Yep, I went there. I know when you're feeling overwhelmed, the last thing on your mind is making time for baths, or reading a new novel, or watching this week's SVU. I get it. This is the hardest thing for me too. When I'm stressed, self-care is usually the first thing to go out the window, but it's also when I need it the most. The thing about self-care is that it doesn't have to be huge or time-consuming; it just needs to be effective. During peak busy times, I still allocate 30 minutes before bed to read something non-work-related. The thing is, 30 minutes is not going to make-or-break my to-do list, but it might make-or-break my mental health that day.  

5. Be flexible in how you accomplish tasks.  My grandma used to say, "There's more than one way to skin a cat" and while--as a cat mama--I'm entirely put off by that saying, the sentiment rings true. For some people, this may look like working from home one day so you can do your laundry on your lunch break; for others it may look like delegating (I'm the worst at delegating!), or accepting less-than-perfect in some of your "should-dos"--but do you REALLY need to scrub your baseboards to consider your kitchen clean enough? So be creative--maybe you'll find a great life hack!

6. Keep yourself on schedule. Hourly planners, alarms, and watches are a godsend for me, because it's easy for me to get wrapped up in a project and lose track of time. I put everything (literally) into my paper and phone planner, and select that I want a 15-minute warning. That gives me enough time to get to a good stopping place with a project, and move on to what's next. You'll notice, too, that when I'm busy, I'm almost always wearing a watch (lately a gorgeous wood one from JORD); if I'm working at home, or moving from place to place in a single building, I have a tendency to set my phone down and forget where I put it, leave it at my desk, or plug it in to charge, so having a watch is a necessary backup for me. When time's up, it's up, and I move on to the next thing in my planner; if I need to re-evaluate based on how much progress I've made with a project, I can do that, but I have to reference my prioritized to-do list and determined where I can make adjustments (and not, ahem, from the self-care section).

7. Reward yourself.  Tackled your to-do list? TREAT YO SELF. Listen, I'm a behavior analyst by trade, so if there's one thing I know, it's the power of reinforcement. If your to-do list is super long (or if you keep adding to it like I do), maybe that reward comes mid-way, or after three projects......or hell, after one, if it's a doozy. We all need respite and something to encourage us to keep going, and much like self-care, it looks different for everyone. A new book, a massage, a new watch to keep you on schedule? After I survive the summer school madness, I'm planning to pierce my nose like I've wanted to for the past 5+ years. This, like all things, requires a bit of self-control, though--because honestly, I'm a grown-ass adult and I could get my nose pierced this afternoon if I wanted to. So I've been holding out for the end of the year, so that I have a light at the end of this very busy tunnel to work toward. Find your light.

To help you power through your week when life gets busy, I've teamed up with JORD watches to offer these tips and a contest to win $100 toward the watch of your choice--because like I said, you need to reward yourself for your hard work! There's only one grand prize winner, but everyone who enters will receive a code for $25 off once the contest ends, so it's really a win either way!

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