This is totally how I feel this week. And I know it’s how Karrie feels too, because we had a mid-week text exchange about how we had both been reduced to tears at our desks out of utter frustration and massive overload… we must be bi-coastal cycling together or something. And I know EVERYONE has their own set of stuff they’re dealing with, so it’s not just us. But in the throes of the worst and most mind-bendingly stressful week of work I’ve had in my entire professional career, I’m trying to find some balance, and a way out of this horrible head space. And how to manage my life in a positive way when it comes to times like these when it’s not just raining, or pouring, but freaking monsoon-ing.
Here is all I have come up with… and consider this an open forum, because I would LOVE to hear how you amazing ladies (and gents) cope with sh*tstorms. Especially you Moms… If I had this level of work stress + a screaming baby in the background, I think I might need to be committed.
1. Make a List, and tackle 1 thing at a time. Cuz getting it out on paper helps transfer the load, right? I also read recently that you’ll sleep better at night if you do this before bed… that way you’re not lying there with your mind racing, thinking about the mental list of the umpteen things you have to get done tomorrow. I also read something genius recently… and it sounds like an 8th grade school project, but: grab a stack of index cards, and label each of them with something that’s weighing on your mind that you need to take care of. Then line them up in order of which is most important, and it’ll help you decide what you need to tackle first. It’s the same concept as the triage in the emergency room… most critical items (patients) get attention first. If it’s a paper cut, it can wait.
2. Put on some lipstick and keep going. It sounds stupid, but I swear it’s a confidence booster… even if no one else sees you. I did this yesterday and got whistled at in the Kroger parking lot by a redneck in a truck that I’m pretty sure was only moving because he was pedaling it through a hole in the floor. Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeey.
3. Learn to say “no.” Cuz when you say yes to some things, you’re saying no at the same time to others… e.g., saying yes and overcommitting yourself means saying no to other things that might be more valuable to you – like time to yourself to decompress, or time with your family. Or your DVR, whatever.
Also, nobody can do it all… and trying to do too much is like trying to ride 5 horses with one ass.
4. Keep things in perspective. Yesterday, whilst I was having a meltdown, I saw on Facebook that one of my girlfriends from college’s little boy had just died. He was about to turn 1, and had spent the majority of the past 12 months in the NICU, with his parents at his side. Every single day. THAT is devastating beyond comprehension. The trivial facts of my work life are not. Life is so, so precious. Go hug somebody. Right now. Seriously.
5. Remember to be grateful. Where your thoughts go, your intentions follow. So if you’re thinking awful, dismal things… well, you get the idea. Whereas if – amidst chaos – you can manage to remember a few things each day you’re grateful for, however small, I swear it changes your perspective.
6. Do something kind for someone else for no reason, and without expecting something in return. Because focusing on helping others snaps you right out of being self-absorbed, and lets your mind shift to the task at hand. Make your neighbor cookies, write thank you letters, send someone a care package, or better yet – go volunteer. Paint the old lady at the nursing room’s fingernails.
That’s all I got. If anyone needs me today, I’ll be working on taking my own advice. What tricks do you guys have for managing stress / maintaining a good work-life balance?