I suppose there are folks for whom December and January are not busy months, but I'm not sure I know any.
Since the chaos is descending and won't lift for a bit, take a little time today to smooth your path.
– Renew prescriptions – and check out online or renewals by mail if your pharmacy offers the service.
– Pay bills early or set up automatic payment.
– Look over your calendar for anything else requires special action (e.g. reserving rental cars, buying tickets, finding those tickets you bought a while back, etc.)
Maybe you need to knock an important errand off your list so you quit fretting about it.
Maybe you need to catch up on sleep.
Maybe there's a movie you really really really want to see in the theater.
Maybe you need some time alone to just take care of yourself & relax.
Maybe you want nothing more than to go out to play with your friends.
Whatever it is, give it to yourself. Make your well-being a priority today.
Have you been slacking on something? Maybe even failing to do once a week what you'd planned to do every day?
Pick one good habit you'd been meaning to have and start doing it again. Today. And tomorrow. And the next day.
Today go back to the project(s) you identified as "that which your boss cares most about you having completed".
First, figure out the status and next step for it/them.
Second, if the next step can be completed in less than 30 minutes, do it or identify what needs to happen before you can move it forward.
Third, email a status report to your boss. "Hi, I thought you'd be interested in an update on what's happening with these projects…" Make sure it covers current status, next step, any actions required by others to move it forward, and when you're expecting to be able to do that step or meet with the others to get it rolling. Be concise; bosses really like having a clear picture from a brief message.
Find all the open projects that are taking up more than a shoebox or a binder's space. Jot them down on paper. Mull them over a little.
Circle the ones that still matter to you.
Put a star by the ones that you'd also enjoy working on if you suddenly magically had a completely free day tomorrow.
Draw a dotted line through the ones that don't matter to you anymore.
1. Work (or, for the retired & students, Projects You Do For Others)
Carve 20 minutes out of your day somewhere (or stay late or come in early tomorrow if you have to) to think hard about a few things & take a few notes:
– that which your boss cares most about you having completed;
– that which nags at you most and which it will relieve you greatly to have completed;
– that which your boss cares about and which has been waiting for a while and which can be completed in less than an hour;
– that which will most help you be more efficient in the future;
– that which is a demonstration of the skills which are required for the position you'd like to be promoted to.
We're going to come back to these each day for the rest of the week, so keep these high-level categories in mind as you work through the days.
Find that uncompleted project which is taking up the most space. Put in 45 minutes on it OR pack it up with a note to remind yourself of the next steps to do OR officially abandon it & get it out of the way.
There's a project you have that's in a partially-completed state. You know, that one you keep looking at all the time and thinking "oh jeez, I really need to get rolling on that".
Today is the day to work on it for 90 minutes straight. A good solid chunk of effort, that's what it needs.
You can go longer if you get inspired. 😉
Yes, that day that you've spent all week thinking "On Saturday I'll…" about.
So, what's on your list? Do it!
If you've packed too much in, pare it down to what you'll most enjoy and be most relieved by being done with.
Me, I'm visiting Grandma Susie, dumping a bunch of old crap at the Goodwill, doing a bit of shopping for obscure cocktail ingredients (who would have thought that orange bitters would be so elusive?) & fresh fruit & veg, and watching DVDs & reading.
It doesn't matter how small a space you live in, be true to yourself.
Take a look through these wonderful portraits by Micheal Wolf of the residents of Hong Kong's oldest public housing estate. Just click on the first picture's thumbnail and then click on the image that pops up to see the next picture.
I love these faces. Humans are so great!
Now, if they can be so diverse, so clearly collecting that which is important to them in a little home, what would what the essentials be for you?
Sometimes we act as though we have a lot more loaded on ourselves than we really do. We set up these expectations not with others, necessarily, but with ourselves which can then prevent us from meeting real deadlines without feeling overwhelmed.
Suppose, for example, you started a weblog that you try to have new content in every day. (I know, I know; where do I get these crazy examples?) If you aren't charging for the "service" and you're not being paid for it, it needs to be in your mental category of Optional not Required activities.
Yes, it's good to set goals and keep up with them. Yes, it leads to improved skills or other benefits. But, ya don't gotta!
The things you do have to do by a certain time or on a certain day will sometimes add up to a large list. This is when you can make an agreement with yourself to put other things on hold.
If a window of low stress comes during your break and you feel like it, sure, but do not feel a speck of guilt over making a plan to opt out of optional activities for a set period of time.
Keep yourself happy and relaxed and rewarded.
As you may guess, this tip comes with the announcement that Discardian will be on holiday until mid-September. Please enjoy the archives in the meantime and happy discarding!
If something suddenly takes up all your time & energy, it's very helpful to be able to give it the necessary attention without it throwing things even more out of balance.
Direct deposit and automatic bill pay can really save you when what you most need to do to get yourself through a demanding time is to come home and think about nothing at all.
Drinking enough water and getting decent meals – especially breakfasts – and as much sleep as you can will help keep your body supporting the stress on your mental focus and your emotions.
Clear communication with friends, family and significant others can reduce the potential for drama, which is usually the last thing you need. Say something like "I'm winding up putting all my energy into [whatever is going on] and I'm afraid it's going to make me [spend less time with you, be unfocused, be unusually emotional, …]; I'm sorry in advance if that turns out to be the case and I truly do appreciate any slack you can give me while I'm getting through this." It won't solve everything, but it should weed down the number of "Why didn't you come to my party?" whines.
Most of all, be honest with yourself. Prioritize and let stuff go as you need to. Do some things well that are most important and skip or skimp on other things that aren't. You can't always do it all and that's OK.