How to Handle Busy without the Crazy (Step by Step!)
Good morning, babes! Today I've got something special for you. We've got our first ever guest post today, and I've been absolutely bouncing with excitement ever since it hit my inbox. Daisy of Fistfuls of Life has shared some fantastic tips on how to have a busy life without having a crazy life. And let me tell you: This girl knows what she's talking about. We're talking jet-setting around the globe every week, riding camels, working 100+ hours a week, and somehow still managing to grin like she does in her photo.I'm amazed by Daisy, and I know you will be, too. Read on, because you absolutely will not want to miss what she has to share!
How to Handle Busy without the Crazy
Creating your magnum opus plus keeping on top of a day job and your family isn't easy.
I know, I should tell you something you don't know.
But seriously, going to work, having a social life, and adding some “me” time makes for a full plate. Hashing out your Big Dream in the nooks and crannies of your time sometimes means your mind is on overdrive the whole day. You wonder how to handle being so busy without breaking to pieces like Hermione Granger in the middle of her time turner episode.
I'm right there with you, girl. (Or man, for the gents in the house.)
Even if you don't like your normal right now, leaving your safe zone to make life changes can feel like extra work when everyone else seems to have more free time than you do. But it's worth it, and you can keep the momentum without being super-stressed.
Case in point, the week Holly and I agreed I'd share these tips with you, I:
- clocked in 100 hours on my day job,
- published a post with a free travel guide for download on my website,
- submitted one guest post with a free checklist,
- kept up with social media for my blog (80 pins a day, 3 tweets a day, and an Instagram post every other day),
- took two flights and one road trip,
- visited four cities in three different countries,
- took the best sunset shot ever,
- and rode a camel for the first time.
WHUTTTT? The friends I was with during that week said I should have been carted off to crazy town. And though life is generally packed, it's true that I would lose my sanity if all my weeks were that busy. But I kept my cool, aced my business trip, and enjoyed new experiences in places I'd never been to before.
So how did I handle the stress of that week, and how can you do the same with your own busy life?
It's all about knowing your priorities and working smart to get there.
So come on, I’ll walk you through how I did it in baby steps.
(Pausing here to say these steps are way easier if you know who you are and what you want in life. If you're not at that point yet, Holly's 5 wonderful ways to pinpoint your magnum opus destiny can help clear up the confusion.)
1. List everything you have to do.
And when I say everything, I mean everything.
Fire up a blank document to type in --- or grab a pen and paper if you're as old-school as I am -- and start writing. Just dump all those “I really should...” and “I wish I had time to...” thoughts onto that empty space.
Keep going until all the stuff bothering you at the back of your mind is spread out for you to see.
It's a ginormous to-do list, isn't it?
"AUGH, HOW WILL I GET ALL THIS DONE? IT'S CRAZY!"
No worries, we'll be taking care of that too.
2. Think about each item on your list.
Take a long look at each task & ask yourself three questions:
Why are you doing this?
Seriously, why is this item on your list?
Some of your "shoulds" and "have tos" might not have a legit reason for being there. What do I mean by legit? Well, let's look at some bad reasons and you'll get the picture:
- You're bored.
- Someone said you should. You don't actually want to though.
- It's easier than doing something else more important.
Does this match your priorities?
Is everything on your list bringing you closer to where you want to be? Or is it there because you're supposed to do it? Only you can make that decision.
Can I just not do this?
By now, you'll be giving tasks that didn't make the cut the side-eye. Will dropping this be a big deal? When you don't have a real reason to do something, putting it on the hot seat like this gives you the freedom to say "I'm not going to do it."
Slash out those outliers with a smile. Who knew giving up could feel this good?
3. Zero in on your most important tasks.
At a glance, everything on your list looks equally important. But ask yourself: which has a better ROI? Say you want to catch up on your emails or work on your novel's first draft for an hour every day. Which one would get you a step closer to where you want to be even if they took the same amount of time? Put those items at the top of your list.
After that, go over the less important tasks. Can you take a rain check on them or just cut them altogether? I can hear your gasp on the other side of the internet, and I get it. Why would I make you quit something you’re passionate about? Isn’t this website all about chasing that Big Dream?
I’m not going to say you can’t do anything you want. With the right stuff, you definitely can.
But from my experience and other successful people I've looked up to, you can't get everything you want at the same time. The 24 hours a day you and I have are finite, so this means choosing what has first dibs on our available time, and sacrificing the rest (whether that means postponing it or not doing it at all).
How much do you want that task? Enough to lose sleep and nights out to work on it? Your answer tells you if it should be on your list or not.
4. Delegate & automate.
Can you get someone else to do some of that? Maybe you can swap tasks with a co-worker who could do it easily. Or your partner could take care of it without any trouble. Can you hire someone (or some service) for things you need to do but don't want to?
Set those tasks so someone else does it, and free up time for the other things you want to do.
BTW, this step is one reason I was able to get through the crazy week I mentioned up top. I scheduled everything related to my website ahead so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time on it on that trip.
5. Break down monster tasks.
Even after crushing out the non-essentials, your to-do list can still be overwhelming. The overwhelm happens because you have monster tasks on your list.
To conquer these monsters (& overwhelm while you're at it):
- Cut them down to pieces. Or little tasks. A monster like "Big presentation this Monday." doesn't seem as scary when broken into "outline presentation", "get more info from this coworker", "research points I need to understand better", "make slides", and "practice presenting 3 times". Oh, and “celebrate with ice cream afterwards”. I almost forgot the best part.
- Estimate how long each little task will take you. Write that time period down beside each task. This helps you not procrastinate because to-dos that scare us always seem bigger than they are. When you see how long it’ll actually take you, it gets cut down to size and feels easier to do.
6. Pencil it in.
Once juggling your magnum opus with the rest of your life becomes a regular thing, you quickly learn that what isn’t scheduled in just doesn’t happen.
So schedule those little tasks for the next week. Use different highlighters and pens to make it fun (or even color-code it like a certain Ms. Granger if that’s your style). [Holly's Note: Don't you just LOVE when someone you like slips in a Harry Potter reference?]
To make it even more fun, download a pretty weekly planner I made for you at the bottom of this post!
7. Cut out the distractions.
How many times have you felt crazy busy but looked back on your day to see a lot of timewasters? If I’m honest, it happens way more than I want it to, and it’s probably the same for you.
Watching TV and scrolling through Facebook aren’t evil, but when you do stuff like these because you’re slacking off, you have to play catch-up and it can get ugly fast. Set a time limit on them or even banish them from your day if they’re not what you really want to do.
Spend your downtime mindfully and only do things that are relaxing, inspiring, and fun. And speaking of relaxing…
8. Take time for some TLC.
Tip #7 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t relax at all. We’re talking about handling stress while keeping your cool here, and recharging your batteries is part of that. We shouldn’t feel guilty about needing that time to keep chugging on.
For example, that week I mentioned in the beginning? I did great that week, so I thought I’d pack even more into my routine. The next two weeks, I skimped on my days off, didn’t sleep enough, and missed meals.
I was the only one who was surprised when I got the flu a few days afterwards. My body just hoisted up the white flag and went down for the count.
Rest is important, ladies and gents. Don’t take a break, and your body will eventually force you to do it. If that happens, it’s way harder to get back into your routine than just regularly taking mental health days off.
EXTRA TIP: Give yourself a break.
As you go down this path, you’ll win some (yay!).
But you’ll also lose some. One of your scheduled tasks won’t get done, or another thing you’ve worked hard on blows up in your face.
When that happens, don’t beat yourself up over it. That’s the nature of change and trying new things. You haven’t done this before, so you’ll make a few missteps along the way. Instead:
- Ask yourself what went wrong. Learn from it so you can course correct for the next time.
- Don’t forget the things you did right. You did your best and it’s over. You couldn’t redo the moment it all went to hell no matter how much you’ll want to. But it probably wasn’t a total loss. Pat yourself on the back for the stuff that turned out OK.
- Keep your loss in perspective. How big a deal is this in your big picture? Will this matter a year from now? If the answer is no, close that chapter and get back in the game.
That wasn’t so hard, right? As you keep going from week to week, you’ll finish your magnum opus faster than you thought was possible. And you’ll keep your sanity too.
Daisy helps people build their “someday” lives with travel tips, life lessons, and adventure guides. She believes that you can build your dream life like she did, & that life is too short to live mindlessly. You can download the pretty weekly planner she made for you and get started!
You can follow Daisy's adventures on Instagram (@simplenotstressful) and Twitter (@fistfulsoflife). Her blog is Simple Not Stressful.