Monday, January 07, 2013

Are You Behind-er Than Usual? Some Tips to Help Catch Up.

Relax!One of my mother's favorite phrases was, "The hurried-er I go; the behind-er I get!" Are you feeling like that right now?

This is a time of year when many people - especially women - feel more stressed than usual by their to-do lists. You may already feel drained by the year end whirlwind.

You've knocked yourself out creating the perfect holiday season for friends and family: putting up decorations, baking, cooking holiday meals with everybody's favorites, shopping, entertaining and being entertained.

I have a few tips to help you get caught up and back on track.

1. Relax! Really. Sit down in a quiet place. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply and slowly. Open your mouth slightly and exhale slowly. Feel your breath. Listen to it. Repeat three to five times. Don't you feel more calm and focused already? That segues nicely into ...

2. Try focusing on one task rather than multi-tasking. Research shows that multi-tasking is actually counterproductive. It costs your brain more time and energy to start and stop several tasks in a half hour then it does to work on a single one. Not only will you get more accomplished; but you'll also end up less exhausted.

3. Prune and prioritize that to-do list. Ask yourself, is everything on my list really important? Do I have to do it all? That leads naturally to ...

4. Ask for help. Delegate. No, you don't have to do it all! Sometimes people close to you don't realize how overwhelmed you're feeling. Maybe they prefer not to notice, as in, "She gets it all done, why should I pitch in?"

5. Find organizational tools that work for you. There are some great online tools.

I like:

Evernote (for saving research, article ideas, advice articles;
• An online calendar (for periodic bills to be paid, doctor appointment, lunch dates, travel plans, etc.); and
Pinterest (for visual reminders and ideas on decorating, recipes to try, and - guess what? - organizational systems!).

However, for certain tasks you might prefer something staring you in the face. Try a magnetic erasable board near your desk for little tasks that really need to get done, but don't warrant the effort of logging them online.

A notebook where you can cross things off once they're done is also good. There's a lot of satisfaction in looking at all the scratched out things you've accomplished!

6. Be kind to yourself. If you look back over the list above, you'll see that each tip is one way of being kind to you. But you need to go even further.

You need to make time for things you love to do or ought to do for your own mental and physical health.

My mother's phrase - it was her way of saying, "I can't do it all", "I need help", and "Be kind to me" all in one. And it worked!

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