Balancing work, life, and downtime is no simple task and it is easy to completely overwhelm yourself. That is why I am here to share 5 tips and steps I take to take control of my time and find the perfect balance.
This is geared towards those of us working at home, or just anyone who enjoys taking on multiple projects at a time while juggling everything else life has to offer. This would still be helpful to anyone who is busy and looking for some tips to avoid overwhelming yourself.
As a creative who enjoys working on multiple projects at once, I will be the first to admit that I often overwhelm myself. I am trying to get better at it which is why I wanted to make this post. It forced me to sit down and think about the things I wanted to change in my life to make it more balanced. Sometimes…well, often times, I take on too much and I am sure any other creative can agree. Since the things I work on (for the most part, give or take a few projects) are projects I genuinely enjoy like writing and social media, a lot of times I forget that it is still “work” and time-consuming. However, even if we enjoy our work, we need to take breaks and not let it consume all the hours of our day.
Learn how to get your work done while still taking time for yourself and live a balanced life with these 5 tips for not overwhelming yourself
1. Take a Look at Your Projects: What Can Stay and What Can Go?
The first reason you might be feeling overwhelm is because you are working on too many things! Which is why you need to make a list of everything you are working on and figure out if anything can go, or be postponed.
For example, I post blogs 3 times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) but because I have so many exciting projects on my plate, I decided it was best to cut it down to 2 times a week for the time being (Mondays and Fridays). I love writing for my blog and posting to it, but sometimes, we have to make sacrifices for the sake of our sanity. However, I am not too sad about it because it is only temporary. Once I finish up some current projects, I am hoping to return to posting 3 times a week.
When you make your list of projects, sort them by priority. If one of the projects involves your actual paying job, whatever that is, that should be your top priority because other people are expecting it to get done and it pays your bills. Figure out where your other projects fall after that, all in order of importance and/or urgency to least important and/or least urgent. Cut the 1 or 2 at the bottom off, or move them to the “save for later” pile. Ensure that you include at least 1 passion project though! This way, you will still be doing something you love and can look forward to making time for it during the day.
2. Set Your Work Day + Break Times
It is important to know when you are working and when you are not, especially if you are working at home and/or running your own business. I know it sounds silly and obvious, but a big contributing fact to me feeling overwhelmed is because I work until I feel “done.” This knocks any source of balance out of my life because my workday can go on until the minutes before I go to sleep.
Does a 9-5 workday not work for you? That’s okay, because while I used to do that, lately it hasn’t been working for me. Whatever time you want to start working, as long as you end it 8-9 hours later, having that normal work schedule (and sticking to it) will positively impact your mental health and sanity. Remember that this work schedule is for weekdays. I highly recommend trying to avoid working on weekends. Or, at least don’t make it a habit.
It is also important to schedule in your break time. This is something I am a rookie at because I will sit at my desk for hours, only breaking when I feel hungry or need go to the bathroom. In reality, you need to take at least an hour and a half of a break each workday.
3. Use a Planner
Organizing your projects and their deadlines is the key to leading a balanced life. You can use a paper planner or digital one like Google Calendars. I alternate between both and sometimes use them at the same time. Sit down with your planner at the end of each week, or the beginning, and plan the week ahead. Include your project deadlines as well as when you want to hit certain milestones within the project. For example, say you want to write 50,000 words in a month and you include a weekly goal of 10,000 words by every Sunday. Make sure you write that down!
Some other productivity tools I like to use to manage my projects and keep myself organized (and sane) are Trello and Hootsuite. I love Trello because it allows you to make different boards and then it lays out your tasks or goals in visually appealing way. You can easily move things around and add other boards too. On the other hand, Hootsuite lets me manage my social media posts. I take advantage of the free plan and have linked my Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to it. Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts and create them on their website. I’ve only recently begun using it, but so far it has freed up so much time in my day.
4. Come Up with a List of Break Activities
When it is finally time for you to take a step back and relax during the workday, you should curate a list of activities that you can do so you don’t waste time trying to figure out what to do. Some things on my list are:
- Read a book
- Watch TV
- Bullet journal
- FaceTime a friend
- Go on a walk
Add as many things to the list as you want, but having one ready to go will save you valuable break time. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, take a look at the photo below and try to tailor your break time activities to things that take care of your mind, body, and soul. It will ensure you get the most out of your break time!
5. Enforce an End Time
Figuring out when to end your day is crucial, otherwise you will keep working until the sun goes down and your eyelids are sagging with exhaustion. Whether that is 5 pm or 8 pm, choose a time and stick to it. Since I’ve been starting my workday later (at around 12 pm), my end time is now 8 or 9 pm. But no later than 9 pm!
Having an end time also helps to prevent burnout. If you keep chugging along into the night, there is a good chance you won’t feel as productive the next day. Slow and steady wins the race; remember that, because I know I have to remind myself of this all the time. It is better to consistently work 8 hours 5 days a week rather than 10 hours one day and only 4 hours the next. So, find an end time that works for you and stick to it.
Those are my 5 tips on how to not feel overwhelmed while keeping productive. I hope you found them helpful! If you have any other tips, don’t hesitate to leave them down below.
Also, don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂