Health and Wellbeing, My head

Coping with overload aka Something’s Got To Give

March 30, 2015

workload too much

We’re all so incredibly busy, aren’t we?

Someone recently said to me that we’re so busy filling every moment that we don’t have time to live well…. our workload is too much.

Our lifeload is too much.

Sometimes the pressure to stay on top of everything leads you to working late nights and up early mornings and restless sleep for stessing about how much you need to do…..right?

It can’t be just me.

This last three weeks I made a commitment to myself to take on less work as I had enough financially and anything else would put undue pressure on me…. but then, a couple of editors I really wanted to work with suggested a couple of stories and I couldn’t say no.

I wouldn’t say no…

So when they called with more jobs that needed to be done in the same timeframe, I didn’t say no to those either.

I’ve hit some mega goals in the last few weeks but in order to get there, whilst juggling my usual load, I needed to pull some late nights, and a couple of early mornings. And entire weekends.

When I don’t switch off an hour before bed, my brain activity is like a beehive on acid for the first couple of hours in bed. When it comes to peaceful resting the tripped out insects actually drone about my frontal cortex putting me on overdrive and make sleep a distant fantasy.

Add a few wakes ups from children who cough all night and I think we can safely say I’ve been burning that candle through the middle with a freaking blow torch.

Naturally, today I went to the gym to work it all out of my body.

When I got there, I was a weakling. My usual weights felt as though thy were filled with lead. My Terminator guns had been replaced with T Rex arms, and my eyes were blurry and gritty and I was annoyed.

Did I stop? Did I take it easy and lie on a mat and gently stretch my body instead of pushing it?

No. I didn’t.

I wondered why I was so tired, although the answer was bloody obvious.

I had taken every single iota out of the bank and my body was telling me I’m overdrawn.

My mind is telling me something’s got to give.

When you have too much on your plate, I suggest you take a step back and think about how you can downsize your load.

1. PRIORITISE

What must you absolutely do today? Can you shuffle anything to tomorrow’s list, or put it off for a few days. Sort it out. Don’t be afraid to recognise your limits.

This is not the same as procrastination. FYI. It’s being smart with your work load.

By the way, I’m shithouse at this.

2. ENFORCED SHUT DOWN

Whether you’re working on your computer, at your desk or simply staying up late, you need an enforced shut down. In order to work at peak performance the following day, you need adequate sleep.

Also, working on computers late into the night is bad for your sleep. Research has proven that the artificial light from your screen can affect your sleep. Try to shut down one hour prior to lights out. No phone in bed. No TV in bed.

I’m absolutely terrible at this.

3. WRITE A LIST

The To Do List is your best friend. Firstly it gets everything out of your head and your can see exactly what needs to be done. Do not deviate from the list until it is finished. No Facebook, no phone calls, no faffing.

Work methodically and enjoy the moment when you’ve shown that To Do List exactly who’s boss. At the end of one day, write the To Do List for the next day and anything that didn’t get finished can go on there for you to smash tomorrow.

I was shit at this but now I’m awesome at this.

4. EYES ON THE PRIZE

A girlfriend mentioned this to me last night…. when you’re tired and stressed and you may be a tad over it keep your eyes on the prize. What are you doing here? Is this busy-ness leading towards your goal?

Don’t lose sight that you are doing this to get to where you want to go.

I own this.

5. REMEMBER TO BREATHE

My mother very wisely sent this in a text to me the other day, and my glib response was “Have you met me??”.

I’m fucking useless at this. It’s amazing my face isn’t purple half the time.

6. SCREW THE HOUSEWORK

This is an important one….. I’m not suggesting you stop bathing the kids and have a kitchen like a shonky restaurant at the end of the night, but again, prioritise. That pile of washing is not going anywhere. As long as you have clean undies, you’re all good.

The garden? Whatevs. The daily tidying? Can wait cos you know they’ll mess it up again anyway.

Oh yeah, I got this.

7. MANAGE YOUR STRESS

A little bit of stress is healthy. Too much stress raises your cortisol levels, and messes with your hormones. Take a walk away from your desk every 90 minutes, and do not look at your phone. Go outside if you can, have a healthy snack or a glass of water, and have a mini-recharge in your day.

90 minutes is the optimum amount of continuous brain activity….after that, you fry like an egg.

I really try, but I’m pretty crappy at this.

8. REST WHEN REST COMES

Take that down time, down tools, disconnect and rest. You need to get your energy stores back up, or YOU WILL GET SICK.

I’m shocking at this. Truly bloody awful.

At least I can see where I need to improve, no?

What about you?

 

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7 Comments

  • Reply Genie March 30, 2015 at 7:40 am

    It can be tricky finding a balance between all the stuff you need to do, the stuff you want to do and the stuff you feel obliged to do. My time is precious to me. I feel no guilt in turning down social invitations anymore. If I don’t really REALLY want to go, I’m gonna say no. It’s taken years to get to this point.

    I’ve been avoiding housework for years! I do laundry (wash and dry) but putting that stuff away? Once in blue moon.

    You know me, I’m list obsessed. Recently I had to turn down work. The thing is, people totally understand that you get busy and appreciate honesty. It’s better than over promising and under delivering.

    If I’m swamped, I tell my clients that I’ll be free in 1-2 weeks if their job can wait until then. If it can’t, I might ask current projects if those can be pushed back. It’s unlikely that nothing on my plate has any wiggle room.

  • Reply Aleney March 30, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Finding that balance when you’re juggling freelance work and kids is tough. It seems like it’s feast or famine at times. You don’t want to say no to a job because it might be that no that means they wont ask you next time. I’ve had a few months like this and I kept saying yes until I nearly fell apart form exhaustion. No matter how tempting work seems we do need to look after ourselves and our families first.

  • Reply Vanessa March 30, 2015 at 9:22 am

    This year has involved a lot of stress for me (that I frustratingly can’t/shouldn’t write about) and hand in hand with it has been a shocking immune system. I’ve pretty much been sick all year. I’m slowly removing myself from the situation(s) but sadly sometimes it takes time. But it has show how important it is to care for yourself first and above pretty much anything else!

  • Reply Carolyn @ Champagne Cartel March 30, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Oh yeah, I needed to read this today. I am stressed like a mofo, and the more stressed I get, the less useful I actually am with my overloaded work. I have a list in front of me though (actually four because I like to divide mine up into chunks), and I am breathing. Oh yeah, and my house sure ain’t clean. Kicking goals!

  • Reply Are you too busy? Read this. - Champagne Cartel March 30, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    […] where my mouth is and found some real balance. Keeping Up With the Holsbys has some great advice on coping with overload which I am planning on instigating […]

  • Reply Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad March 31, 2015 at 11:45 am

    This was very timely for me. I’ve burnt the candle right down here I’m afraid and it’s an awful place of overwhelm to end up in. Must take note of all the notes. They’re spot on. Just need to break the cycle, ya know? x

  • Reply Sonia from Sonia Styling March 31, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Have you been spying on me again?! Awesome advice.
    Last night, I stayed away from the laptop and put my phone away for the evening. I had a shower, ate dinner while actually talking to my husband and went to sleep at a reasonable hour (not to mention slept solidly).
    I think I need to down tools earlier more often! x

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