Friends.. it’s May. May! I can’t believe this school year is already winding down. I swear it just started! I went on a walk with a good friend this morning and we were talking about May Madness. We call May “the new December” because if you have school aged kids you know that it tends to be one of the busiest months of the year. Just like the holiday season, it’s a wonderful time full of fun activities, but it can also be stressful when our to-do lists and calendars are bursting at the seams.
We all have times in our lives that feel this way regardless of whether or not it’s because of kids or the month of May. Some phases of life are just too BUSY and can make us feel extremely overwhelmed. I know I’ve gone through months in my life where I’ve felt like if I had to add one more thing to my plate I just might explode. Or hide in my closet all day. Which actually isn’t a bad thought right now because I’m itching to organizing it!
K. Getting back on track now. :)
Along the way I’ve found a few strategies that help me cope during extremely busy and overwhelming times. I’m sharing them today in case they might help any of you and also as a reminder to me! This is a month I know I need to be on my A game. :)
1 – BRAIN DUMP – Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed and my head is spinning with all the things that need to be done I grab the nearest notepad and start writing a list. Getting everything out of my head and down on a piece of paper makes me feel so much better! Suddenly things seem more doable and I can breathe. Even if the things I’m writing down are simple, small reminders, it’s such a huge help to get them down on paper. When a lot is going on it’s hard to remember all the details. Like to send flowers with your kids on Tuesday for Teacher Appreciation week. My husband took my kids to school one morning last week and called and said “all the kids have flowers… were we supposed to bring flowers?” I said “yup” as I stared at a plethora of colorful flowers still sitting in my kitchen sink.
Aside from writing down “buy flowers for the teachers” during my last brain dump I also should have added “send flowers to school with the kids.” ;)
My brain dump list from last week. Nothing fancy. Just getting it all out of my head!
2 – PRIORITIZE YOUR TO-DO LIST – Once I can see all of my to-do’s in front of me it’s easy to start prioritizing things that are the most important or that need to be done first. I use a highlighter and highlight 3-4 things that are my top priority and I try to not do anything else on my list until they are done! Eat that frog! If you don’t know what your “frog” is, read this post. You can also learn more about my highlighted list making strategy here. It has been working so well for me!
A previous list where I highlighted to-do’s that were my top priority.
3 – PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME – There are only a certain number of hours in a day and no matter how efficient we are, we simply can’t do it all. When you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to take a good look at how you’re spending your time. Look at your day and see if there is anything you can eliminate from your schedule. I just did this last week. My girls have been going to an after school math club this year for one hour three days a week. Add in drive time and their other activities and I knew that during May (when dance, drama, and school activities are getting busier) it would just be too much. We put the math club on pause for May and bam! I added 4+ hours back into our week. YEA. We needed that time! See if there is anything in your schedule that you can pause for a bit or drop completely if you are feeling overwhelmed.
It’s also so important to guard your time by learning to say no. I’ll admit this is really hard for me and something I’ve been working on. A friend asked me at the beginning of this school year to join the PTA at my kids’ school. I would have loved to, but I knew that if I wanted to prioritize my blog and be able to volunteer in my kids’ classes (and do all the other things I had already committed to) I would be stretched too thin. It was so hard for me to say no! Especially since the job was something I would have enjoyed and it was a close friend asking. But I politely turned it down and I can’t tell you how many times this year I’ve been grateful that I did. For me, at this phase of my life, it was the right decision. I’ve learned the hard way that saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. Usually it means saying no to time with my kids and husband or to getting enough sleep. I’m not willing to sacrifice those things anymore and I have to constantly remind myself of that.
Prioritize your time! We can’t do it all. Cut less important things from your schedule and learn to say no to them in the future. Especially if you are feeling too busy and overwhelmed.
4 – Get outside and exercise – I know that when we get busy and overwhelmed exercise is often the first thing to go. I’m guilty of this myself! But even though it might be the last thing we think we have time for, it’s one of the best things we can do! Exercise and fresh air are both known mood boosters and taking even 20 minutes out of your day for a quick walk can do wonders to clear your head and lift your spirits. My friends and I are trying to meet for quick walk/runs more often during this busy month because aside from the fresh air and exercise, meeting with friends also gives you that much needed therapy session. :)
Me with some of my favorite exercising buddies/therapists. ;)
5 – Get more sleep – Easier said than done, right!? It’s all too easy to stay up late at night to get things done when we feel overwhelmed and have a lot to do. But take it from someone who knows (hello blog posts rolling out around 2:00 am!) it’s never a good thing to sacrifice sleep. We might get more finished short term, but usually when we stay up too late at night we feel sluggish and are less productive for days after. I’ve found that when I’m especially busy, if I prioritize sleep and make sure to get to bed at a decent time, I’m able to get more done the next day and am actually more productive overall. Plus I’m a lot more patient with my kids and just feel better about life in general. Bonus. :)
So that’s it! 5 strategies that really help me when I’m feeling too busy and overwhelmed. Would love to hear anything else that works for you!
Ok May. Let’s do this.
p.s. Here are a few other similar time management posts if like me, you are always looking for ways to make the most of your minutes!