Organization, Productivity, Time Management

How to Survive a Busy Week

Can I tell you a secret? Recently over a 10-day period, I had 46 deadlines, assignments, and meetings. This included 3 papers (including 1 group paper), 37 job applications, checking and correcting over 200 legal citations, work deadlines, and school deadlines. On top of that, my car broke down.

While I’m normally pretty good at managing high levels of stress, I really struggled. I had to employ new stress-mitigation techniques just to survive. Along the way I realized that my productivity wasn’t at all optimized. I thought that today I could share with you some of the things I learned.

So, go ahead and take a breather. Give yourself 5 minutes out of your hectic day and ask yourself if you employ these techniques, and what about your productivity could be optimized.

The To-Do List and Calendar

These are non-negotiables to help manage your life efficiently. When you’ve got tasks in all different directions, you need to know exactly what’s on your plate and what’s coming next.

As for myself, I’m kind of the queen on the to-do list. I make lists everywhere. Sometimes it’s a sheet of paper, a notebook, in my phone, or on Trello. Since I make so many lists, a few may or may not get finished – but when you have a week of non-stop deadlines, that list becomes your best friend.

With every list, I recommend that you add the deadline of the task. This can help you prioritize your list and keep you moving on your next deadline.

Change Your Routine

This is going to sound a little crazy, but when you have a busy week, you’re not exactly yourself. When it gets so busy, you almost have to go on auto-pilot. Don’t be afraid to change your routine during this time to accommodate for everything you need to get done.

If you don’t work out, strongly consider adding a little bit of movement, like a morning walk. This can help clear your head and get you focused for the day.

I really warn against changing your sleep schedule. Late nights aren’t efficient and let’s be honest, they suck. For me, late nights are almost a guaranteed mental breakdown and I avoid them at all costs. If you really need more hours in your day, try waking up earlier. You’d be surprised at how efficient you can be before the rest of the world wakes up.

Breaking It Up Into Smaller Tasks

This is what helps me survive massive deadlines. Your focus during a busy week should be to keep your mental state pretty solid. Giving yourself mini-breaks is the most effective way, at least for me, to get things done.

For example, if I have a paper to write, I might tell myself that once I make it to the end of this page, I can check my phone or watch a YouTube video. Since I only have a small task, I’ll power through it knowing that I have a reward waiting for me.

You can take breaks as often as you need, but I don’t recommend taking many breaks longer than an hour. I get it, sometimes you need it, but really, only like one or two hour-long breaks a day. You need to stay productive during your busy week.

Good Takeout

I get it. During a busy week, you’re not really thinking about self-care. If you cook, you’re probably not cooking as much when you’re busy. That’s okay. This week you can get takeout.

I strongly recommend that your takeout be somewhat healthy. Eating something not so great for you can often leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy. You’re not going to get much work done after a meal that slows you down.

On the other hand, getting something that’s a little healthier keeps your body moving. My mother was such an angel this last week and made me some home-cooked frozen meals. To have a veggie soup in the midst of Hurricane Jacqueline was so comforting. It was quite literally a taste of home. It grounded me and kept me moving.

Turn Off Your Phone

If you can’t think of a good reason to have it on. Turn it off. Period.

One Hour of You Time

I know most of these tips have been focused on moving forward, but one thing I really suggest is taking one hour a day just for yourself. I like that time right before bed. If I want to lay down and stare at the TV, I can. If I want to go for walk, I go for one.

Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean that you have to give 100% at every moment of every day. Relax a little and your body and mind will thank you.

Follow the Momentum

At the tail-end of a busy week, I take the weekend off. However, this time when I took my weekend off, my body felt like it should be doing something. Harness this energy with smaller tasks like dishes or checking your email. Don’t go into anything crazy, but if Newton’s Third Law applies to you, capitalize on it.

That’s all that I’ve got for you today! I’d love to hear how you survive busy weeks – I know I’m still learning when it comes to managing your time efficiently! Let me know down in the comments what I got right and what I still need to learn!

And, in the spirit of moving forward, stay productive!

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Project 8

Another Big Announcement: Project 8

You thought yesterday’s news was exciting? I’m here with another new project! It’s finally a physical project, too. I’m going to run a 10k.

My (Not-So) Athletic Background

I’ve always been relatively in control of my general health and fitness. As a kid, I was a big softball player. All throughout college, I was a bit of a gym rat. I was never really obsessive, but I enjoyed working out. When I started law school, working out took a bit of a pause. A year long pause to be exact.

Even though I enjoyed working out, I’m not much of an athlete. Especially when it comes to running: my knees face slightly inward so I have a strange run. I also have asthma and feet that don’t quite fit properly into any shoe. On top of that, I’m really slow. I tend to interval run: walk x feet, run y feet, etc. My runs in college averaged around a 5k (3.1 miles).

Despite my quirks, I’ve always wanted to run races. Five years ago, during my freshman year of college, I tried to run a half marathon. Somewhere around 8-10 miles into my training, I got nasty shin splints and nixed the idea since I didn’t want to injure myself. Nothing more embarrassing than a freshman girl hobbling to her classes from a treadmill injury. Since then, I haven’t tried distance running.

But with the creation of this blog, I wanted to try a race again. I figured a 5k was a little too easy and with the next highest race being a 10k (6.2 miles), I thought it might be a good goal. To break out of my interval running, I want to try and do it in under 60 minutes.

My First 10k

Fast-forward to yesterday morning. It was time to kick myself into shape. I figured I’d try the 10k without any sort of training to establish a baseline. I’ve gone on maybe two other runs this month, both 5ks. Besides that, the lethargic quarantine lifestyle has kept me from any other workouts.

So at what might be the most out of shape of my life, I took to running the 10k. My goal was to just be under 2 hours. This is what happened:

Mile 1: There’s some nature reserves and parks near my home that I thought I’d run to. The problem is that they’re at the top of a 300-foot hill. So right at the start of my run I was met with elevation. Great. I didn’t even try to run it. At least I’d coast down it on the way back.

Mile 2 and 3: This is where your body just wants to stop. Hands down, these were the most difficult miles. At the end of mile 3, I made it to a lake which was a nice little spot for joggers. All of them waved hello.

Mile 4: I had now accepted my suffering. My hips started to lock a little, but knowing I was on my way back, I found my stride. I was surprised I had it in me since pretty much every other run in my life was done by this point.

Mile 5: I was so jaded at this point. I did coast down that hill, but it came at the cost of cramps on the right side of my body. Also, queue the nausea.

Mile 6-6.2: I made it to my boyfriend’s house with a tenth of a mile to go. I did little laps around the sidewalk of his place. I was pretty much crawling. I looked like an extra for The Walking Dead. But damn it, I did it.

I was proud to have done it. As a student, I’m constantly pushing my mental strength, but to know that I’ve become strong enough to control and push myself physically was really exciting. I think I might have caught the bug again.

But now for the part you’re all waiting for: my time. I clocked in at 1:41:10. I was so proud to have finished, I didn’t even care. I also saw a variety of factors that could be optimized: I was out-of-shape, it was so humid, it was muddy from rain the day before, my asthma kicked up, I didn’t know how to pace myself, etc. etc. I know that to improve by 41 minutes is insane, but I know I can do it.

It was just so gratifying to complete my first run. I know that I’ll continue to get better. Seeing my boyfriend’s face when I walked in, he was so proud of me. As a runner himself, he was excited to see me trying something he loved so much. That in and of itself made it all worth it. I asked him if he’d plan my runs, go on some with me, and be a running sensei to me. He agreed to all of them.

As if that wasn’t good enough, I did some research: the cutoff time for most 10k races is 1:30:00. That means if I were running at 10k for a race I wouldn’t have finished or gotten my medal. So yeah, there’s still some work to be done. And man am I hungry for it.

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