Last updated on August 21, 2017 by Liza Hawkins
I was asked by Carusele to participate in the #SimplyNice campaign, sponsored by Walgreens. Though I was compensated, all opinions are my own.
I don’t claim to understand all the magical secrets of achieving work/life balance. In fact, I’ve always wondered if people who espouse achieving work/life balance are really off their rockers. Or, at the very least, they define balance as something different than I do.
More power to them!
What I know is this: there are steps you can take to help stay relaxed and feel in control when life gets busy.
With school beginning soon (after Labor Day this year, here in Maryland), activities ramping up, work-pace not slowing down, board meetings beginning, and other commitments thrown into the mix, there’s no better time than the present to ensure ducks are in a row.
A few simple tricks can help life run a little smoother when things get busy. Here are some tips to keep calm that work for me!
Tips To Keep Calm When Life Gets Busy
1. Get Organized
There’s nothing that makes me feel more scattered than when the house is in disarray, I lose sight of the family calendar, or I don’t keep meticulous notes for my freelance work.
Around the house there are a few simple tasks that make my brain go Ahhhhh, thank you! on the daily: a made bed, a clean kitchen, and various odds and ends picked up from around the living room. Making our bed takes fewer than five minutes, and it has the ability to transform the bedroom from stress-bucket to relaxing. Go one step further and make sure dirty clothes are in the laundry basket, dresser tops aren’t used as catch-alls, and shoes find their way into their spots. All-in-all, a 10 minute task in your master bedroom from start to finish, truly. Even quicker if you can manage to pick up after yourself in real-time (that includes husbands, wives, partners, etc.).
Our kids have chores that include a variety of household to-dos, but the biggest one I find value in is that they must pick up their stuff from around the house (and outside) each morning before they get the pleasure of using digital devices or watching TV. That means, I’m not the one schlepping armfuls of LEGO bricks, art supplies and empty cups to their various homes. The kids are responsible for that task. Daily. It’s brilliant. (In case you’re wondering what happens if they don’t complete the task before hopping on a device, well it’s three strikes you’re out. After a third mis-step in a week, we get their devices for 24 hours.)
As for my own organization rituals, I have a few things in play that have made life way easier. Keeping a Bullet Journal for a while was great, but I decided to give it a break for the past 18 months. After going back and forth between a few paper calendaring systems, I instead found a blend of Google Calendar and Microsoft OneNote has helped mitigate the chaos and keep me sane. I created a Family Calendar that my husband and I can access via our phones, and all of our appointments go there, color coded. I keep my editorial calendar and post concepts within OneNote, along with other organizational household odds and ends.
2. Prepare In Advance
Sometimes things get chaotic because I find myself needing to give a presentation or participate in a share-out. Generally in times like this, the subject matter is something near and dear to my heart; things I know like the the back of my hand. Even still, I can find stress starting to build as the day approaches—UNLESS I’m prepared in advance. This preparation involves two key things: 1) Gathering my thoughts on paper (digital or whatever works for you), and 2) practicing what I’m going to say until it feels second nature. Even when topics are super familiar, there can be a scatter-brained quality to them if you don’t take the time to prepare in advance. And that never feels good.
3. Eat And Drink Smart
It’s hard to stay focused, let alone stay chipper, if you’re not being smart about eating and drinking throughout a busy day. I start off with a couple cups of coffee (milk, no sugar), and I drink water the rest of the day—I’ve gotten good at carrying a reusable water bottle with me wherever I go. Sometimes I’ll grab a soda if I’m eating out, and I also enjoy a glass or two of wine in the evening here and there.
My breakfasts are simple (yogurt with fruit, cereal, or eggs on the weekend), I enjoy leftovers for lunch most days, and we have homemade dinner most nights (with some delivery or take-out mixed in here and there). Skip one—or worse, more than one—in a day, and I find myself scatter-brained and snippy.
Simple snacks in-between meals can be clutch when blood sugar’s dropping, especially in the afternoon when I’m shuttling the kids to their various activities—things like nuts, crackers, chips. I also enjoy little indulgences in the evening when I’m winding down before bed, things like ice cream or a couple cookies.
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4. Readjust Priorities
Between a full time job, keeping up with my blog, serving on a board and other committees, managing family activities ranging from school to dance to sports commitments, and basically all the things, there comes a time (or comes times) when I have to take a step back and readjust my priorities.
Sometimes that means getting up 30 minutes earlier each morning to have time to read or do something else that fills my bucket. Other times it means playing a game with the kids even though I’d rather fold that load of laundry that’s been sitting on the chair in our bedroom for a week (folding laundry is a task I do while binging my favorite shows, and therefore has become less of a drag).
Still other times, it means you start saying “no” to some things, and “yes” to others.
5. Say No And Say Yes
If you tend to be a people-pleaser like me, then it can be easy to fall into a trap of agreeing to do things, even if you don’t want to or don’t have the time to. Over the years I’ve worked hard to pay attention to my own needs, while still being empathetic towards others’ needs. Saying “no” to joining a non-profit committee doesn’t mean I’ve disappointed anyone or left them in a lurch, it means that they’re able to move on and find someone else to fill the role. And by saying “no” to opportunities, I’ve found that there’s more time and desire to say “yes” to even better opportunities.
6. Find Your Happy Places
Having a space all to yourself, somewhere that brings you joy and also helps you feel centered, is key. Some people find this place in the form of a hobby (like my writing, for example), and others find it by physically being somewhere else, like on top of a mountain or by the water—or in yoga class.
I’m an introvert, so it’s second nature for me to find time for myself—I actually crave it. I’d expect that even the most raging extrovert needs something that’s soul-filling and introspective, just maybe not as frequently.
Find that happy place, keep your belly full, readjust priorities and focus on these tips to keep calm when life gets busy.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Walgreens. The opinions and text are all mine.