Tips, Techniques, and Technology to Help You Stay Positive During the Busy Season
Life has never been more hectic, and that’s especially true as we head towards the holidays. As darker days draw near, there are plenty of demands on our time and attention. It’s easy to get distracted or feel like there’s too much to do, so here’s some practical advice you can use to stay on top of things.
Plan Out Your Weeks and Capture Your Commitments
The chances are, you’re going to have a lot of commitments at the end of the year. Gifts to buy, parties to attend, work deadlines to meet. Understanding what you’ve committed to makes it much easier to plan, and ensure you have the time and energy to get everything done.
Your calendar app or diary is critical to planning things out. Whether you use Google Calendar, Outlook, Fantastical, or one of the many calendar apps available, what’s most important is your discipline in capturing what you have to do.
That means going beyond meetings — capture all your deadlines and tasks, and the dates you need to achieve them by. Record anniversaries and birthdays, the times you’ll meet up with friends, and the plans you need to make. For each one, look at when you need to start to meet that commitment, and schedule in the right amount of time. It’s a lot of work up front, but once you get into the habit, the stress and anxiety of missing something important will evaporate.
Get Into the Habit of Using a To Do List
If you want to go beyond the calendar, a to do app can be extremely helpful. Software like Todoist, Trello, Remember the Milk, or Things will let you easily see what your commitments are on a day to day basis. Even better, you can sort and prioritize your tasks and assign them to projects.
That means you could have a separate project for specific work, chores, friends, and anything else in your busy life. You can also capture tasks that you don’t need to do right now, but can think about when you have the time and space. Apps like Todoist and Trello will even integrate with Google Calendar and other apps, so you can see everything in one place — meetings, tasks, deadlines, and more.
Create Some Time for Yourself
Staying positive isn’t just about meeting all the promises you’ve made to other people, it also means taking some time out for yourself. It’s vital to carve out some space where you can just breathe, relax, and spend some quiet time.
That starts by creating clear boundaries between your work and your home life. Don’t look at email or Slack messages when you’re not at work, and resist the temptation to respond to work-related communications when you’re not in the office. Reduce the load in your email inbox through services like Unroll.me, SaneBox, or Gmail.
Take a break from notifications all together by reducing or eliminating the number of times you get pinged by Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. There’s very little social media that can’t wait a few hours for you to respond. These are tough habits to break, but will help you create a sense of peace and not being distracted every few minutes.
Become More Mindful and Build Good Habits
Mindfulness and meditation are getting a lot of attention at the moment, and with good reason — these simple practices help us to develop more discipline, maintain a sense of perspective, and find some calm. This can be a great way to detach from the demands of everyday life and rejuvenate. Apps like Calm and Headspace are a great way to start meditating — they’re designed for busy people who can find a few minutes here and there, rather than Zen masters.
Habit-building apps can also be a great, low-impact way to develop new skills and goals. You begin by choosing something you want to do a little better — reading a few pages every day, taking a 20 minute walk, or learning a new skill, then track progress. That sense of accomplishment can do wonders for our attitude and confidence. Apps like Momentum Habit Tracker, Habitica, or Habitshare are all good starting points.
Get Outside and Away From Technology
Finally, here’s one of the most important technology tips of all — turn it off! For all of the productivity and focus that apps can bring to your life, there’s no substitute for taking a break, getting outside, and enjoying a walk.
Getting in control and putting everything in perspective can take time, but during busy periods, that effort certainly pays off. Use technology in the right way, and you can create the approach you need to stay positive, no matter what life throws at you.