Back on 28th June I uploaded this post called How to Change? It was basically a lot of questions about how I could sort my body and mind out to try and get out of the cycle of getting tired until I’m exhausted, taking time to get back on track, and then just getting exhausted again.
Thanks to all of you who spent time replying to that post, both publically on my blog and also by email/tweet – I really appreciate your help. This post, as a follow-up to that one, hopefully pulls together some of those thoughts from those who commented to help myself and also anyone else who’s interested! There were lots of varied suggestions, some of which I’ve already taken note of. Thank you.
The first thing I leant, and very quickly, was that I’m not alone. Ok so I knew I wasn’t the only one to have anxiety, and I know I’m not the only one who gets over tired very easily, but it’s nice to be told every now and again. I mean, other people really seem to understand what I was talking about (which is a very good thing!!).
Here is some of the advice I received…
Okay so my bit of advice may not be practical for everyone but I might as well add it!
Reduce your work hours! I have as a result of illness. I’m not sure I ever would have done until I had children but my situation kind of forced it but it has benefited me in so many ways.
I was very much a career woman before and had very little time to do the things I enjoyed whilst keeping up with work and house work. Now I work 25 hours a week and manage to fit everything in included exercise and hobbies!
I realise it is not possible for everyone with their finances but I think a lot of people if they considered their situation more carefully would manage it. I never thought I could but am managing very happily.
I’m sure there are lots of tips but this is my best one; if it is possible anyone who can should go for it!
Wow how I wish that was possible. It might be one day but not at the moment. Something to bear in mind for the future perhaps.
Being accountable to someone gives me the motivation to follow through with things. Instead of ‘forgetting’ it’s swimming day and staying on the sofa, I now know that if I really don’t want to go swimming I have to produce a pretty sound ‘excuse’. Accountability is powerful.
This is a very good point – accountability is important. I’ve started “announcing” things on Twitter etc, and that in itself is making me feel like I can’t wriggle out of it. For example the other day I said I was going to be really good this week with food, then posted what I had for breakfast – a good friend was quick to point out that I wasn’t being as good as I thought and gave me some ideas how I could be better. For one I appreciated the help as I learnt something, and two I know that people do read what I Tweet and are willing to pull me up on something if I’m wrong/don’t do it.
My ideas for work with less stress:
1. I have two lists at work – one ‘things that must be done now’ and two ‘things that must be done’ – it helps me prioritise and get things done in the correct order and forces me to do boring stuff
2. When I am getting ready to go home, I decide what I’m going to when I first arrive at work and put this on a post it next to the computer, it’s normally a small job but important. I then put a star next to the things I want to achieve the next day from my to do list. The amount of stars will depend on the amount of stuff I have on that day – there’s no point having a list too big to achieve.
Lists – I love lists – but sometimes I feel they’re way too long. This advice mirrors something else I’ve been told about keeping lists short – just include the things you need to do that day. I’ve started doing this, and have a calendar-type thing on my desk where each week I put what I need to get done on each day. If it doesn’t get done I move it to the next day. So far it’s helping.
The more lists that I have, and the more things that I have on my lists stress me out and I can’t get all of the things that I need to do out of my mind. Something that I have found useful is prioritising the things on my lists. My lists of things to do normally form a triangle shape- the things that are the most important go at the top of the triangle where there is less space (time) to do them, and those lesser important things go down towards the bottom where there’s more time to do them in. I tend to work through my triangle, pushing things up as they become more urgent. I find prioritising the best thing in these situations, it enables me to focus on the important things rather than worrying about ALL of the things that I need to do.
Your comments about lists are all really interesting as this is one thing I am used to doing. I am trying to alter the way I create and use lists so they don’t become a stressor in themselves but are actually the coping strategy they should be.
I would suggest first of all, do you have to do it all alone or are there others around who could take responsibility for tasks both at home and at work?
Work…. Meet with your team (if you work within a team) decide within the team who should deal with different themes depending on their roles and strengths. For example emails are often duplicated and copied to multiple members of a team. Decide who will be responsible for responding depending upon the themes and if you are managing this team ask them to copy you in to their responses. Unless you work alone, share the burden and meet with your team regularly.
The same at home, share tasks and responsibilities with family members. If you live alone its useful to have a daily chores list, i.e. monday kitchen clean, tuesday living room etc etc (as long as you don’t live in a mansion!) and if you miss a day because you want to go for a meal with friends/ read a magazine and lounge on the sofa/ paint your nails, don’t consider it a failure because its essential for your relationships that you are a happy, healthy person and that means sometimes lazing about and recharging. It is more productive to recharge sometimes than it is to have a shiny sink.
Another thought may be not to count the number of things not achieved on your list but those that you have achieved.
Maybe for a couple of weeks or a month while you’re trying to make this change keep the list handy and add effective things that you did that weren’t even on the list that you decided at the time took priority over the initial plans that you had made. This may help to put into perspective the things that you did not achieve that day. And if the list isn’t completed by the end of the day and nobody got hurt because of it, pat yourself on the back and plan to do it tomorrow.
Finally, try to perceive the cycle of punishing yourself for inadequacies like you would with starting a diet or giving up an unhealthy habit. Some days you will succeed, other days you won’t but ultimately you’ll reach your goal.
One last thing, plan into your day the fun things that you like to do so that your list isn’t just chores!
This is really helpful – thanks for taking the time to post me such a well considered comment. I like the idea of including “fun” things on my list – so I’ve started to include my Year in Photos pic on my list (something I really enjoy sorting each day) and also other things I ‘want’ to do rather than ‘need’ to do. I have a wonderful friend who does my ironing which is such a great help – she seems to enjoy ironing (I have no idea why) – but that means I don’t have to worry about it because I know it’ll be done and it’ll be done well. I’m also trying to tidy up as I go along and set the dishwasher more regularly so things at home don’t get too out of hand – and yes, I get lots of help from my other half.
It’s an interesting time to be writing this follow-up post. I am currently really really tired but not doing too bad (I am sleeping). I have started to make small changes and try to start each day with a positive thought and remain positive throughout. I’m also trying not to jump to conclusions or assume things before I’ve got the full story – one thing I have become very bad at recently.
I’m attempting to be much better with food and have bought a Wii Fit as a kick start to a new daily exercise routine (had it less than a week… review will be coming up soon!). Basically I’m trying to go back to old habits (lots of exercise, drinking lots of water, eating lots of fruit and vegetables) so I know I can do it, I just need to get on with it.
As I’ve said, I really appreciate all your comments and hope that what I have posted here won’t only help me to do my best every day but also help others with similar feelings too.
Finally, this one short comment is the one I’m going to try and keep in mind every day:
Remind yourself that lists are targets only, that quality comes before quantity. Know your limits, keep it realistic. OK to stretch, don’t snap!