A few years ago, I was pet sitting for a family that eventually moved to another country. Two days before the move, my employer asked me if I would like to have a few of their household items. Among them was a hair dryer, a lamp, a duvet cover, some towels, kitchen utensils, and cleaning stuff.
I didn’t have a hair dryer, and I thought I could use one. As for the rest of the stuff, well, who says no to free and fancy stuff? So I took it all. I remember putting everything in plastic bags and heading home by bike. My employer suggested that I travel twice and come back for the rest of the stuff later, but I told her I could handle it.
Well, it turned out I couldn’t handle it. Three blocks later, I fell off my bike. One of the plastic bags got tangled in the bike’s front wheel, and I was thrown onto the ground landing flat on my stomach.
It was an awful and painful experience, but that accident taught me that if I try to juggle lots of things at once, eventually things will fall. A few weeks ago, I was reminded of this again. I was feeling suffocated by all the “have tos” and “shoulds.” I had to take care of my online business, write two newsletters, study for a language test, and friends wanted me to help them with projects. On top of that, I was babysitting from 9 to 5. No wonder I felt like I couldn’t breathe! Have you ever felt like this?
I’m not saying you can’t have a juicy plate full of projects that excite you and light up your soul. It is possible to have multiple interests and creative pursuits. What I’m saying is this: You can’t juggle everything at once. I mean, you can. But you will eventually get burned out.
Once I realized that this was affecting my health and happiness levels, I started replacing energy-draining activities with energy-boosting ones, among other things.
If you’re feeling drained because you have too much on your plate, keep reading. This is what has helped me prevent (and deal with) burnout through busy times.
1. Turn down commitments that exhaust you.
If your week is already packed (hopefully with good things), perhaps it is wise to turn down that last-minute birthday party invite. You can always send a card or offer to meet another time. Similarly, when it comes to collaborating on other people’s projects, only accept the ones that you’re passionate about, or that will help you further your career.
Even when I think I’m sure I want to collaborate on a certain project, I ask myself “Do I really want to do this, or I am doing it because he/she is a nice person/friend?” Saying no to sucky projects will give you more pockets of time to focus on doing the things you love.“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.” ― Greg McKeown Click To Tweet
2. Be selective about your availability.
Technology is supposed to make connecting with friends and family easier. However, you don’t have to be available on WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, iMessage, and Instagram all at the same time. When people reach out to me on every single platform, I get a bit flustered. But recently, when I removed WhatsApp from my cell phone, it gave me such a nice sense of freedom! It has also helped with my productivity, since I don’t have to follow a bunch of groups anymore. And my loved ones know that they can reach me anytime by simply calling or texting.
Teach people to respect your time by responding on only a select number of apps/platforms and choose those that suit your needs better. Like Marie Forleo says, “Simplify to amplify.”
3. Take it one idea at a time.
Whether you’re trying to start a YouTube channel, create a podcast, or launch an online course, building up a creative business takes time. If you’re fragmenting your time into more than three different projects, burnout is likely to happen.
What has worked for me is the pursuit of one idea at a time. Once a project has taken off, you can then start building your next idea from scratch. And every time you start something new in the future, the process should go even more smoothly since you’ve already gained some experience with your completed ideas in the past.
4. Alternate your crafts.
In an ideal world, I would like to write, paint, and work on my business on a daily basis (on top of exercising, cooking healthy meals, and reading). But in reality, I don’t do all of these things every day. In the past, I have tried to squeeze everything into a single day, and I ended up exhausted.
Some months I write more, and in other months, my focus is on my art. Some days I read for an hour, and on other days, I binge watch Netflix. It varies. I do not make myself feel miserable because I haven’t written/painted in days or even weeks. I know that each craft will get its turn.
Dedicate blocks of time to work on each particular task. Maybe you like writing on Tuesdays and painting on Fridays. Or maybe you can use your mornings to create content, and your evenings to learn a new skill.Whatever your schedule looks like, don’t be so hard on yourself for not doing everything every single day. Click To Tweet
5. Take breaks.
The other day, I wrote for four hours straight. And guess what happened? I felt done for the day. I didn’t have the energy to work on my business in other ways. Even though I was happy to have written for such a long time, it ended up draining all my energy.
These days, I am learning to write in chunks of 25-30 minutes before taking a break for 5-10 minutes. Sometimes, when I’m in the flow, I’ll write for one whole hour and take a longer break (15-20 min). Regardless, I’ve learned that in other to juggle many things effectively, I have to take constant breaks.
6. Give each project the time it needs to evolve.
The world is moving so fast these days that we can easily fall into the trap of feeling behind. Your friends are publishing books, making videos, leveling up their Instagram game (yes, that’s a thing) while you’re maybe still in the “figuring out” stage of your project.
Well, don’t feel bad about it. Each project is different and we all have different rhythms. Don’t feel ashamed just because you’re still in the prep phase. Perhaps all you need is that one online course that will give you more clarity on your big idea. Your pace is your pace. Embrace every step of the process.
7. Batch your activities.
Do you really need to work on Pinterest, Instagram, etc, every day? Or can you perhaps make a bunch of Pinterest graphics at a time and schedule them to be automatically published during the week? When it comes to social media scheduling, Tailwind and Later are life-savers.
You can also meal prep on Sundays, so when it’s time to eat lunch, you don’t spend a lot of time cutting/boiling vegetables or cleaning dishes. Here’s a great video on meal prepping if you’re looking for some inspiration.
8. Start delegating.
Not all of us have the luxury of being able to pay someone to help us with the house or our business. But even if you can’t afford to hire help right now, maybe you can delegate a small task to a family member. It just might make a world of difference.
When it comes to cleaning, my boyfriend and I split the chores of the house. He is in charge of cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming the stairs, and taking out the garbage. And I take care of cleaning the other rooms of the house and doing the laundry/ironing. As for my clothing business, he helps me with taking photos, editing videos, and doing taxes. And I am immensely grateful for his help. If I had to do everything myself, I would have lost my sanity by now.
9. Do things that will boost your energy.
And by things I mean exercise. Seriously, if you think that by skipping your workout you’re saving yourself some energy, you might need to recheck that statement. On the contrary, the days that I don’t exercise are the days I end up feeling groggy, which also usually leads to not having enough energy to work on my passions.
But after a good workout session, I feel ready to crush my day and my to-do list. These days I’m doing Hip Hop Abs and Insanity (my fifth round) and I’m feeling super pumped. Check them out!
10. Schedule time to relax and have fun.
This can be anything that is not work related. Try to create stress-free zones or schedule calm moments to give your busy mind a rest. And if you’re looking for self-care ideas, you can check out this blog post.
My favorite relaxing/fun activities are reading books, soaking in the bath, going to the movies, getting massages, disconnecting from social media, painting for the sake of it, and going on weekend trips.
I hope you found these tips useful. In the end, the best thing you can do is to try things for yourself. If something isn’t working—a routine, project, job—don’t be afraid to let it go. And if you have any other tips that help you effectively juggle lots at once, feel free to share them in the comments!
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