Still, we do all go through schedule disruptions from time to time, and everybody has busy seasons. Whether it’s rebounding from having three months off, a cross-country conference in a time zone three hours behind you, the explosion of activity during your busiest time of year, or covering for a colleague that's resigned or is on long term leave, there are tips and tricks to keep your balance through the transition. It’s not easy to move through these phases, but you can ease the burden by:
Not skimping on sleep. I know there are times when you need more hours in the day, and the easiest way to get them is to sleep less. Don’t do it. Your body needs time to rest and recover, and getting enough sleep is your best defense against the ravages of stress and illness. Trust me: You’ll be a lot more productive during your day if you get enough sleep at night. So don’t burn the midnight oil, or get up at 4 a.m. to “get a leg up.” It won’t work if the 3 p.m. crash fogs your concentration to the point where you can’t focus on anything at all.
Taking your lunch hours and breaks and don’t do overtime unless it’s required. I picked up this gem at an administrative assistant’s conference about 10 years ago, and it’s proved golden. Just like skimping on sleep, it’s easy to reason that you’ll get ahead if you skip your “off time.” And just like skimping on sleep, you’re cheating yourself by not allowing breaks that will refresh you and give you energy to get more done while you’re there. There might be times when it’s necessary, but keep it to a minimum and don’t make it a habit. Remember, work/school are there to serve your personal life – not the other way around. It’s a symbiotic circle where things are supposed to work in harmony. If your school/work becomes a parasite feeding on your personal life, it’s time to take stock and get things back in proper balance. I realize there are times when things or issues take over your life, but these should be for short seasons. If it establishes itself as a way of life, it's become a parasite and it's time for correction. Remember your priorities, and remember that time to yourself every day – even if it’s just 20 minutes – is essential for keeping you sharp and in balance to do your best at all you do.
Learning time management skills. I was lucky to have a good instruction in one of my college freshman classes that made teaching time management skills her first priority of the semester. That lesson has helped me through all of life ever since. I’ve had some refresher courses and these are things that never change – if anything, they find more ways to save you time and help you be more productive with the time you have. Some examples of things you learn are how to group like tasks together, keeping a schedule and calendar, advance planning and preparation, and blocking out personal time. If you’ve never had a time management course and you don’t naturally have these skills, it’s worth your while to fit it in your schedule. In fact, I’d put it on the “necessary for modern life” training list along with typing, computer/software training, and driver’s training.
Keeping your home/car/office clean. What’s on the inside shows on the outside. I know that cleaning and organization take time, but it’s well worth it if you can find what you need without looking everywhere for it, or when you aren’t having sneezing fits from digging in a drawer or cabinet that’s full of three years worth of dust. Keeping your space clean is good for your mind, body and soul. Organization helps you to be more efficient and saves you time, and cleaning keeps you healthy by clearing out germs and things that can carry them or cause allergy and sinus problems. Plus, you just feel better mentally when things are neat and organized. Cleaning and organization doesn’t have to take a lot of time, either. Sure, you have to make the initial investment, but once you’ve done that then it’s maintenance. Put things back when you take them out, keep your systems going, and make Clorox wipes and your Swiffer mop and duster your new friends to keep things neat and tidy in a hurry.
Staying on your medications. I know I’m going where angels fear to tread, but I feel it’s necessary to address this because it’s important. I mean no offence, but it’s a simple fact that sometimes people get the impression that “I’m fine” and go off medication to save money, or because they don’t like the side effects. Don’t do it. Your doctor put you on medication to help you lead a normal, balanced life, and cutting that off will throw whatever needs fixing out of whack again. And yes, people can tell if you go off them too, because it shows in ways that you don’t notice, so don’t think you’re so clever that you can hide it. Your family, friends, and colleagues don’t believe that your sniffling and sneezing is “just an allergy attack,” that your frequent restroom visits are “something that didn’t agree with me for lunch,” or that your frantic hustling around the office and losing your temper is “just stress and a bad day,” especially when it goes on for a week. People might be dumb, but it’s never in a way that’s convenient. The one thing that smart and dumb have in common is that they always show at times that are darned inconvenient and frequently embarrassing for you. Plus, you will get sick and need it again all too soon. Someone once told me that stopping your medication because you feel better is like cancelling your pest control service because you don't see bugs anymore: you don't see the bugs because the pest control works, and you don't feel bad because the medicine works. Don’t play that game. Maintenance medications are a blessing that everybody should take advantage of. You don’t have to suffer and there’s absolutely no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed about needing it – in fact, if you take it regularly and the dosage is right, then nobody will know you’re on it at all unless you choose to tell them! Do yourself and others a favor and take your medication. If you have trouble paying for it or the side effects don’t go away in time, talk to your doctor about adjusting your dosage. Let them do their job by keeping you well so you can do your job of serving the world through whatever you do with good health and a clear mind.
I’m sure there are many more tips and tricks for making life easier when life gets busy, but these are good, basic things to help you get started. So don’t fear that date circled in red on the calendar. This too shall pass, and if you work wisely and efficiently then it will pass with as little pain and suffering as possible.
That’s all today. Take care and have a good rest of the week.