Sunday, 5 February 2012

stress and time

tim walker plants bath

You may have noticed that my posts have been a little less frequent here lately. After life throwing something of a curved ball just before last Christmas, what I expected to be a hail storm has turned into more of a meteor storm (thanks, climate analogies) and, while these meteors haven't actually exploded or hatched any angry snakes, I am keeping an eye out and preparing for that to happen, too. At least it won't surprise me if it does!

All this means I have been very busy lately. Too busy, really. I love managing my own time, and I'm usually very good at it, but suddenly having these (neither work nor blog related) extra demands on it has made things very hard.

I decided that I'd had enough of the constant butterflies, the always tight-feeling in my throat and the cold backs of my hands (who knew that was a symptom of stress?!) and that it was high time I did something about it.

Here are some of the things I do to keep going when time is short and my to do list isn't. I may not be able to get everything done – I'm not a magician! – but it helps to keep things ticking over and at least moving along. It makes things a whole lot nicer and easier to face, too!

Lists are so obvious, of course. I find that plain old lists help most of the time but when I have a lot of different things to do, one long, endless and ultimately impossible-to-finish list is too depressing. Instead I make a one-page list (use a BIG piece of paper if you have to!) broken down by subject, and end up with more of a table of things to do. Maybe it's a visual brain thing, to need things that. It works for me. Subjects down the side, actual tasks from left to right. It lacks the satisfaction of a long, all-ticked-off list (and who doesn't like those?!) but it really makes thing seem more under control – and I can work out priorities more easily, too.

dulton timer
This might sound nuts if you haven't tried it before, but it really is so amazingly helpful. For all the tasks I find myself putting off because they seem a bit hard/involve brain power/aren't actually much fun – hello, tax returns – I set an alarm. I'll set it for, say, 15 minutes, and during this time I have to work on any one thing until the alarm rings. Trust me. It works. I almost always find that once I have started, I want to go on for longer than the original time limit… and usually finish things then and there. And even if I don't, at least I've already done the hardest bit: getting started. I use my Dulton Co Ltd little red round timer; for on-the- computer jobs, it sits on the desk with me and ticks along companionably as I go. It was a gift from the Miles Mason Trading Company, and it gets used for so much more now than just cooking! Make me jealous and get the mint green one ;)

I have tried to create a place for me to work (albeit in our "sun room" – haha – which is actually our study-slash-dining room, which makes our place sound enormous, and it definitely is not!) that is pleasant to be in. Who'd have thought scented candles in summer – during the day – would be so nice? It's a new found joy for me. Having this one spot organised and tidy makes everything else seem so much easier. It needs a bit more work, but that can wait, for now! A pin board and a nicer table are coming soon. I also like to have something nice to look at while I'm working. There is a big tree out side my window, an old globe on the desk that lights up (for when the sun goes down) and, on a good day, fresh flowers. It all helps! Inspirations boards are coming soon, too. I've really learnt in the past few years how important your environment is.

footlight parade
Again, so obvious, and yet so easy to not do when I'm busy, but some good hard exertion helps me exercise my stress-demons (see what I did there?) and stay happy. I'd be happiest if I could tap dance in a spangly show girl costume, but spin classes are doing the trick for me these days. Still, even just having one vintage spangly show girl costume would be really very nice…

darling nails
Taking care of yourself is so often underrated. It always gets pushed down to the bottom of the list of things that need to happen, but a bit of pampering works wonders. I am going to find some time to do a luxurious mani-pedi with some colours from my great present form Darling – perhaps pink and red? Even if I have to do it by moonlight, little things like these feel like treats, and this makes life so much better.


And that's just a start..! There are of course many more. What are your tips for dealing with being busy? Tell me and we can share them!


Lauren Helen said...

I agree - treating yourself is so important! Not enough people make time for that!

Rochelle New said...

GREAT advice! Thanks for sharing.

Lynn Brooks said...

I do the table thing too. I really thought I was the only person that did this, figured it was part of my O.C.D. But looking at things in table form as opposed to a long list really does help me prioritize, and it makes me feel less bad if I don't complete it all.

bespokehome said...

This is a really great post, though sad to hear you're under a lot of stress. I think lists are terrific too. My husband and I use for shared lists, to keep track of things like home renovation projects. We also use it for gift lists - to put what we might like our spouse to get us for birthdays etc, with links to where to order it.

Laura said...

Wonderful, wonderful tips! I've been struggling lately with managing everything, so this is incredibly helpful - and timely. I'm a big fan of making to-do lists that are actually tables. I think I'm going to try setting alarms!

Vintage Hippo said...

I actually have three seperate planners because I feel if I don't have some sort of To-Do list I lose all focus. I have a wipe-board style daily one, a magnetic weekly one, and a monthly one for long time plans, it sounds excessive but it really really helps. Hope you de-stress soon!

Miss Tallulah Porkchop said...

Oh sweetheart, I hope you're okay. I'm sure you have loads of friends/realtives... but I'm in Melbourne... if I can ever do anything to help you out, pls message me. I'm just over the other side of the river. x

Tors said...

I'm in a similar situation and am starting to feel overwhelmed with everything I have to do. I've just started my own business working from home, whilst attempting to redecorate the entire house. My blog's suffered as a result and I'm not managing my time efficiently and it's all coming to a head. So thank you for these tips, I think they might just be a life saver for me!

Rebeccak said...

And you manage to seem so relaxed and care-free on the blog! I've had no idea you were under such stress!

I love that alarm trick. I use the 'focus booster' app - it has given me the ability to write huge chunks in a single day - something I have struggled with for years. I also bribe myself with chocolate (which is less helpful as I watch the ever-expanding girth - eeeek!)

Hope the storm blows over soon!

Little Miss B said...

This is such a lovely and useful post, thanks for sharing and I hope things get less stressful for you soon.

Lynn said...

Sorry to hear about the stress. I sure understand that. Your tips are great. I try to get some exercise in, either on the treadmill or outside, but I have been really slack with that lately. You've encouraged me to try and make sure I actually do that every single day! It ALWAYS makes me feel better! Probably the biggest thing that helps me (and you already know the secret) is taking care of me, getting up and dressed in something fun each day, and blogging. :)


Circus Girl (Zoë) said...

Alarms and food need to be in my day! I break up tasks with food breaks! :) Nice post! Zoë x

Sophie said...

Sorry to hear about all that - hope things turn around for you soon and your life is stress-free for a while! Great ideas for staying positive and dealing with it all. I find that a foamy scented bath at the end of the day helps me sleep better when I'm stressed out. xx


Great tips, thank you!

Charmaine said...

I feel you have a pretty solid list, I definitely agree about exercise. It is the number one thing I suggest for people when they are trying to burn off some steam. I also think getting massages or sitting a sauna/steam room to be very relaxing. If you have access to one, try it out! Your muscles really relax and my skin is great for days after. I also do something called "drab days to fab days." Ha, it's sound so lame, but if you have one or two days without make-up and outfits created with effort, I always feel like a million bucks when I do put some effort in a couple days later. The fresh face and polished look make me feel ten times better. And good ol' consumerism makes me feel good sometimes. A new lipstick from Mac isn't a stress relief so much as a perk me up.

Hopefully you'll find a happy medium soon.


Nessbow said...

I find music to be a great motivator. When there are jobs I don't really feel like doing, I'll pop on one of my favorite albums and promise myself to work until it ends. The tunes usually get me energised and make the tasks seem less like work. I also find singing along and throwing in a few dance steps to be excellent stress-busters.

esme and the lane way said...

‪Vintage Hippo‬ not excessive, they sound great!

‪Miss Tallulah Porkchop‬ you are a darling! Thank you :)

‪Tors‬ oh, it's so stressful, isn't it?! I hope things go well :D

‪Rebeccak‬ hehe yeah, always like to share the good bits! Mmm, chocolate bribes… good times…

‪Little Miss B‬ thank you :)

‪Lynn‬ absolutely! It's too easy to not do if you don't have to leave the house, but it makes such a difference! Even when it has to be done before the sun comes up :D

‪Sophie‬ oh I love the idea of a luxurious bath but my plug is too small for my bath tub plug hole!!! Ridiculous, I must sort that out. x

‪Charmaine‬ oh the drab-to-fab thing is SO true! I must try a sauna. I haven't been in one for years – a massage sounds divine, too! Oh, and yes about the MAC lipsticks! :D

‪Nessbow‬ definitely, a big help! Haha I love singing along too. I do it in the car, I'm that crazy lady singing at the lights!

Charis said...

Great post... I too get the butterflies in my stomach feeling & get over tired & overly emotional... not fun.
I do the list thing too with an ongoing list in the memo section on my phone & then I write out paper lists for things that I want to tackle that day.

Closet full of hopes and dreams said...

Been there, done most of that! :) My friends and family call me the list woman. I've been very busy a lot in past few years. And well, sometimes you also just need to listen to your body and sometimes you need to say no. Even sometimes if it seems fun. It's about choices. Will this give me new energy or simply drain me?

Often when you are a busy person you are also the type who wants to do everything perfectly. If it turned out not so perfect I used to freak out. Now I have a new strategy, I just think, Oh, well nobody died! Usually it works, because it puts everything in perspective.... :)

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