2010 has been a very good year so far, as far as my work is concerned.  Maybe even a little too good!  What I mean is that since January, I have been inundated with exciting opportunities, new projects, and the addition of several students to my private practice/studio.  While those are all very positive things, and I am extremely grateful for them, I’ve been just a little stressed!  Understandable, right?  Juggling so many responsibilities sometimes feels like I’m surfing a tidal wave, just barely staying above water.

So here’s the question: how do you get off that tidal wave and back to solid ground?  As a parent, teacher, therapist, or pretty much anyone else with a life and responsibilities, you’ve probably found yourself faced with that very question.  I want to share a few of the things that have helped me through this most current wave of stress.

  1. Get organized. I’ve learned that if I don’t take control of the things that stress me out, they just swirl around in my head and cause even more stress.  David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity was almost life-changing, in that it taught me new but simple ways to organize my life and work to cut out a lot of that free-floating stress.
  2. Identify the next step, then take it. I know all too well that looking at the “big picture” of a project can be really scary.  Instead, I break the project down into tasks that can be completed and marked off the list.  That way, I can see my progress as the project moves toward completion.
  3. Reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; something as simple as a lunch break could serve as your reward for finishing a task on your to-do list.  Last summer when I was working on music for the Model Me Kids: Faces & Emotions DVD, I would sit down at my desk around 6:00 am to begin.  Each song took several hours to write, record, and edit, so every time I completed one, I allowed myself to spend some time unwinding (usually with a snack while watching television or taking my dog for a walk).  I looked forward to that downtime, which gave me extra motivation to complete my work.
  4. Regain your confidence. This is especially important when you are facing new challenges and unchartered water.  I have taken on several new roles this year, and at the beginning, I questioned whether I could really handle each of them.  Constantly questioning my abilities was really stressing me out, until I realized something: I wouldn’t have these roles unless I was capable of them.  Others put their trust in me, so why shouldn’t I trust myself?
  5. Imagine the outcome. With each project and task that you undertake, you most likely have an end goal in mind.    Picture your life once you have completed each one; how you will feel, what you will do with the extra time.  Sometimes that is all the motivation I need to get through a particularly difficult item on my list!

Now I am off to apply some of these very techniques as I tackle the rest of my day.  Here’s to a productive, stress-free and enjoyable afternoon.  (Oh, and if you have any items to add to the list, please share them in the comments section!)