Got Stress?

got stressAs a teacher, June is the busiest month of the year. You are busy doing final report cards and tidying up all of the loose ends from the current school year and at the same time, having to prepare letters, class lists, supply orders, etc for the following year. On top of the work load, family life continues. Shay has a June birthday, so that always entails two parties to plan and prepare for. Soccer is in full swing for both kids, piano is wrapping up, dance recitals are happening, there are end of the year gifts to buy, people to thank and chores to be done. For me, the first two weeks of June are by far the toughest. Once I submit my reports, everything seems to be more manageable. I am by no means a master at managing stress and work load, but I am often asked how I juggle work, blogging, kid’s activities, etc., so here are a few things that I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Plan ahead to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Use a master calendar to schedule all of your events and commitments.
  3. Break the master calendar down into a weekly schedule.
  4. Take your weekly schedule and slot in your “to do’s” for that week.
  5. Multi-task and make use of spare minutes. I love to watch my kids activities, but I will often take marking or the laptop to work during warm-up or between drop-off and puck-drop or kick-off. Use your time wisely. I am a master at using every spare moment when I’m out and about. I will often run an errand in the 10 extra minutes between dropping off one kid and picking up another. I can get a lot done during a half hour piano lesson.
  6. Never procrastinate. Try to knock the small tasks off your list as quickly as possible. Once they’re off your list, they’re also out of your mind and you can let them go completely. Do not put off the big jobs as these are the “to do’s” that seriously weigh on your shoulders and bog you down. Get started immediately and I promise you’ll feel better.
  7. Know your limits. When I have a stressful time coming up, I try to keep myself as “non-committed” as possible. Predict those times and be wise with what you take on.
  8. Say “no”. Don’t be a martyr. Do not say “yes” to something you don’t feel you can handle. I have learned that even fun social engagements can be too much for me when I am extremely busy. I will often decline, just knowing how adding one more thing to my calendar will make me feel.
  9. Make a menu. If you don’t have to worry about meals and what you’re having for dinner, it will be less to think about.
  10. Make sure you get enough sleep.  The absolute last thing you need is to be sick on top of the stress you are already feeling.
  11. Write everything down. Make lists and use your calendar. Transfer your thoughts, ideas and “things to do” to paper, so you won’t worry about forgetting something. Organization is key.
  12. Assign chores. Make sure everyone is helping out around the house.
  13. Take one day at a time. Try to get through only what is most pressing today and don’t waste time thinking about what is on your list for tomorrow. Tomorrow will come soon enough.

Over the years, I have found that what often makes me feel the most overwhelmed is one particular task. I know myself well enough to know that when I have something big weighing on me, all of the other smaller things feel huge. For me, it’s writing June report cards. It doesn’t matter how many other things are on my list, until those reports are written, edited and submitted, I carry a heavy weight. It’s a huge job and constantly on my mind until they are completed. Although it feels like the stress is being caused by the overwhelming number deadlines and little things that need to get done within a short period of time, it often all comes down to the one big job on the list. Once my report cards are done, all the other items on the list seem much more manageable. The keys to managing really busy stretches in life are simple: plan ahead, be prepared, know your limits and get started right away ~ do not procrastinate.

Here are some links to related posts on being organized.