Have you ever felt so busy you couldn’t find time to take a break? Here are some ways to keep calm and carry on that don’t take long at all:
Make your breakfast the night before.
I used to rush to make my smoothie in the morning before realizing I could spend the same amount of time – but at a different time – to make all the difference. No more stressy mornings, and I gain a feeling of accomplishment before bed. If you’re cooking breakfast, get all the ingredients ready. Sometimes I leave a custom mix of porridge in a pot on the stove. Just add milk.
Make your to do list the night before – and keep it short.
“Planning tomorrow the night before” has been one of my most effective Tiny Tweak habits. As for the to do list itself, Ned Hallowell suggests focusing on just three tasks per day, per week, per month, and per year. I have adopted the day and week versions, and I’ve gotta say – it works. It’s similar to Leo Babauta’s Most Important Tasks. Keep it simple. My new favorite thing is removing – not completing – things from my to do list.
Exercise a little.
I feel so much better with just a bit of movement. Do yoga for just three minutes when you wake up. [You can even do yoga before you get out of bed in the morning!]. Go running for ten minutes before you take a shower. At the very least, take the stairs, or the scenic route. When I get busy, my mind jumps to “I don’t have time” mode, even if it’s thirty seconds of walking downstairs to get a cup of water. Embrace the extra opportunity to move around, especially in fresh air. We have time.
Separate work and play.
This is a big one that I talk about more in my ebook. When you’re working, work. When you’re taking a break, take a break. Try not to think about work. Set a time when you’ll get back to it, and stop worrying.
Choose the right tasks for the right time.
Just yesterday I had a 15 minute window and a long to do list, and I found myself tempted to crack on with the list even though 15 minutes would not be enough time to get started on any of the tasks. Be realistic – if it’s not going to work in a slice of time, relax instead.
I used to take work on climbing trip bus rides before realizing that it never got done. I just can’t focus through motion sickness and social distractions. Instead, I brought only five minutes’ worth of work. It was way more achievable, and I felt accomplished enough to allow myself a rest. Something about physically leaving books at home and making it impossible to do work allows me to enjoy breaks more effectively.
On public transportation, for instance: turn off your phone, take out the earbuds, and just sit with yourself. Give your thoughts some space to breathe.
Listen to music.
On the other hand, music can transform my mood. Without getting addicted to reaching for headphones every time you go for a walk, turn to the pleasure of tunes to feel better. I have a bedtime playlist of Maja Vidal, News of Your Departure, and Charlene Kaye, and during the day turn to 8tracks and search for a certain mood. [My favorite is a Dancing in the Kitchen playlist].
Choose your pleasure reading carefully.
Get distracted by the right book. Choose wisely – are you the type of person who will be motivated or overwhelmed by reading a book like 7 Habits for Highly Effective People? When I’m busy I love to reread reliable favorites and children’s and YA lit.
Hang out with a puppy.
I mean, they’re so happy.
Alternatively, bring a cuddly toy.
[Sorry to bring up the puppy if you don't have one on hand; that's rough]. On a stressy day in high school, I carried around a cuddly penguin to great effect. [And if you think you're too cool for stuffed animals, read Brideshead Revisited].
Remember that the little things count.
Even if you don’t have time to make huge changes, remember that lots of little ones add up.
P.S. Thank you to Holly for requesting today’s articles. If you want me to write about a certain topic, just ask :)