Managing Busy-ness in 3 Steps

I’ve been busy. Not just ‘normal’ busy but the kind of busy when you’re not too sure how you’re going to get from one end of the week to the other and still be standing upright. The kind of busy when everything seems to need your urgent attention RIGHT NOW; the kind of busy that turns you into a seething mass of cold/flu symptoms as soon as you stop (no? Just me then?!); the kind of busy I really hate because it’s so draining.

After the first busy week when I could barely lift myself out of bed on the Saturday, when I knew I had another two weeks of this level of busy-ness, I decided I would need A Plan. You see, I’ve been here before and that time it went on for weeks and weeks and weeks before I collapsed under the strain and had to stop altogether. I don’t want to go back to that; I like to think I’ve moved away from that ‘I can do EVERYTHING for EVERYONE that wants me to’ mentality, I’m not quite there yet, but this time I caught myself before I really fell off that cliff. The Plan helped. As did a bit of brutal honesty from friends and a timely reminder of what really is important to me.

The Plan was pretty simple, I stepped away from the ‘whole family’ calendar that was freaking me out because every day looked so busy and made my own ‘week to view’ pages, with just my stuff on it. Then I colour coded the stuff I was doing so I could see which ‘hat’ I was wearing and when, and I deliberately wrote OFF in big letters across the empty sessions. Aaaaahhhhh, that was better. Now, although I still had lots in my diary, I could clearly see that I also had significant periods of ‘down’ time.

The next stage was to give myself permission to sleep in those blocks of time. Some of the stuff I have been busy with was pretty heavy duty, I was struggling to sleep and the times when I did sleep my dreams would be of disaster scenarios: it wasn’t really what you’d call restful! So daytime napping became a requirement, and it was good.

The last stage was letting go of anything that wasn’t essential, I really hate backing out of something I’ve agreed to and this was part of the trouble when I had that first brush with exhaustion. Now I’m learning that it is a requirement for managing particularly busy times. Anything you can get out of/move/cancel, do! This includes things like housework, or cooking dinner or extra meetings at church. My church family know me well and are great at flexibility and understanding for when you just can’t do the thing you really wanted to do. And, it doesn’t have to be forever – just while everything else is too much!

One other thing I’ve been pondering on is my tendency to over-commit, not just physically (I waiver between wanting someone to work out how to be in two places at once and being glad it’ll never be possible!) but also emotionally. I need to be cautious about how connected I become to different situations and events and people. It’s good to be able to empathise with others and to want to invest in others, it’s not so helpful when I end up carrying the emotional burdens of people I’ve only met once and will probably never meet again.

I’m on the other side of those really busy few weeks now and have holiday time looming, plus hubby and I have booked to go away for the Easter Weekend, so I’m getting back onto my more normal even keel. Today has been the first day in a month that I’ve had nothing in my diary, and, boy, does that feel good!

It might be helpful for you to think about how to manage your own busy times, how do you see the space you need, what helps you to not fall off the cliff?

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