Coping When Things Pile Up

If you think I’ve got my shit together, you’d be completely wrong. I have anxiety, and some days I wake up, feel completely overwhelmed by my to do list and want to go back to sleep. Productive that’s not, but I still manage to meet my deadlines and, somehow, I get through. I know I’m not the only one and I didn’t always manage to meet deadlines and get things done so I thought I’d share my strategies for coping when things pile up, in the hope it helps someone else.

A large glitter ball on a stick, by the sea

Get dressed

When I feel anxious I want to be in my pyjamas in bed, hiding from the world. I see a big change in my mindset the minute I get up and get dressed, so I try to do that. I somehow feel more ready to face the world when I have my favourite jeans on.

Use spare time wisely

By spare time, I mean the time you’re just waiting for something else. I often make a cup of tea and stand around for two minutes whilst the kettle boils. Use that time to do the washing up, wipe the worktops or put the washer on. Whatever needs doing.

Beat the clock

Take this morning as an example. I woke up and I knew I wanted to vac my room. I had a big pile of clean clothes on my desk, I have a good four hours of work I MUST do today, and I feel groggy and tired (vitamin d deficiency is not the one, I can tell you) There’s also a pile of things that were in a bag I used yesterday that are now on the floor, and two carrier bags of shopping from Primark, Superdrug and Home Bargains I picked up yesterday. I looked at the chaos and didn’t know where to start and that can really stress me out.

So. I got up, had breakfast and made a cup of tea. I brought the tea upstairs and set my desk timer for fifteen minutes, knowing that then my tea would be drinking temperature. And then I turned on the radio and tried to do as much as possible in that time.

Always start with high impact things. So hang up that pile of clean clothes as then your desk is neat and tidy. Clear the floor so you can vac, as then the vac can go back downstairs. About seven minutes in I had a clear floor, a clear desk and had done the vacuuming. Then I started going through my shopping from yesterday, putting the skincare away in my skincare drawer, the clothes I’m keeping in my wardrobe and the ones that are going back into the bag with the receipt, which got hung on a hook on the back of my door. Then the timer beeped, and I stopped. There’s still a small bag of things to sort out, that are on my bed. That’s okay, I will do that later, but for now-my room looks like a different place. As the timer beeped I reset it, then opened my window and lit a candle, as fresh air and a nice scent helps my mood too.

Have breaks

Once I’d done the tidying, I sat down at my desk with my notepad and pen, cup of tea, and my phone. I turned on my laptop and let that boot up whilst I watched everyone’s Instagram stories. It’s so important to plan in those breaks and it helps to stop you getting distracted later-I won’t look at Instagram now until I’m having lunch.

Prioritise three things

This is, obviously, where the notebook and pen come in. Today I need to write two sponsored posts, invoice them, and catch up on client work. I also want to write some future posts of mine and plan April’s posts, do a broken link check and fix, and do a bit of work on my photography website. I’m clearly also writing this post. That sounds like a lot of work for one day, so my three priorities are:

Sponsored post one-write and invoice

Sponsored post two-write and invoice

Client work-complete

I will now sit and work on those things, and once they’re done I will have a lunch break.

You might not freelance like I do, so your priorities might be put the washer on, make the bed and clean the bathroom. Whatever they are, aim to get them done soon, whether that’s all in one go or in short sharp bursts. I always find achieving one thing makes me want to do another, so I’m much more productive when I’m being productive.

Choose one self care thing

I always reward myself, not for completing things but for putting in the effort. So, if today I don’t finish everything on that to do list, but I’ve worked strategically and done my bed, I’ll be painting my nails tonight. Other things I like to do are watch something on Netflix, use a face mask, read a book or go and see friends. And those things keep me sane.

Add things you’ve done to your to do list

This sounds a bit silly, but if you’ve got up, had breakfast, had a shower, got dressed, put the washer on and made a cup of tea before you sit down to plan your day-write down the things you have already achieved and cross them off. That means that at the end of the day you can see just how much you’ve got done, and will be far less likely to feel you’ve wasted the day. It’s satisfying to see.

Do you struggle with coping when things pile up sometimes? Do you have any tips to add?

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