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.
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 First 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!