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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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!)