This was the scene a few weeks ago… I’m running all over town prepping for a show at 3pm. I have rehearsal in the morning, 40 mins away, then back home with no time to eat lunch, 20 minutes for hair & makeup, take care of the dog, then I’m off to perform downtown. This is my third rehearsal this week and along with client calls, building mockups, writing posts, dealing with an injured dog and a sick family member, I’ve been busy and more than a little stressed. But every night when I go to bed I think to myself…I’ve got this!
After two years of working multiple jobs that leave me with a raging to-do list almost every day I’m starting to get a handle on how to take on all of this stuff without completely losing my mind.
Write it all down: I’ve found that I’m less stressed when I write everything down. I have separate Google calendars for aerial, design and personal appointments, which are pulled into the Agenda Calendar app on my phone. I used to keep a running to-do list for daily tasks, but I wasn’t feeling completely organized, so this year I’ve started using TeuxDeux to keep my weekly schedule in order. (yes, I’m totally late to the game on this one!)
Separate the needs from the wants: I need to pick up my prescription and send the final mockup to a client, but I want to wander Pinterest for makeup inspiration and watch Youtube videos for new tricks. The Needs go on my to-do list and when I need a 15 min break or am done for the day I can do a Want.
Feel satisfied with completing one big task each day: This is a new one for me. I like to look back on my day and see twelve tasks scratched out, making me feel successful that I’ve put in a ton of work. If I look at my list and see only a few items completed I feel like I have to cross off more to be finished for the night. I’m learning to feel successful and satisfied with completing one big thing or a couple small items each day.
Schedule time off & fun activities: When I know I have a busy week ahead I make sure to schedule time off in advance. I wrangle a date about a week ahead of time and then I know that Sunday morning I’m going to brunch with Mandy and on Thursday I’m meeting the girls for a movie. This is super important for me because if I don’t schedule playtime I will inevitably turn down offers to leave the house when I’m all warm on the couch with my computer in my lap – even if I’m done working for the day.
Learn to say no: You cannot do everything others ask of you and you shouldn’t feel like you need to. Even if your only reason for turning down a project or a night out is “I don’t wanna,” you’re allowed to say no and you don’t even need to give a reason. I always say, “Thanks, but I’m not available.” Maybe I have a show, maybe I have to work, or maybe I just want to sit on my ass and watch TV.
Just lose it every once in a while and be OK with it: I’ve come to terms with the fact that every few months I’m going to be completely overwhelmed and lose my shit. I spend a night freaking out and in the morning, magically, I feel better. I love being busy, I love working on multiple projects at once and thrice-yearly spaz is the price I pay for being a little nutty and ambitious. I used to feel bad when I couldn’t handle everything at once and now I don’t even care – it’s worth it.
I’m finding it all comes back to one thing…giving yourself a break. It’s OK if you don’t get it all done, it’s OK if you need a night off, it’s OK if you want to turn down a project, it’s OK to ask someone else to take part of the work. Do what you can, take it one task at a time, and when it’s all too overwhelming, have a good cry and get on with it.