You know summer is in full effect because most people are trying not to countdown how many days of summer they have left! Those feelings of anxiety and frustration are both very real and predictable. As a result, let’s focus on some concrete ways to deal with Failing to Recognize and Adjust to the Rhythms of the Summer.
Each season has a natural energetic rhythm. You may have high energy at the beginning of the year, it flattens out during the middle (as reality sinks in), and towards the end of the year, you may find yourself dragging from some combination of disappointment, frustration, exhaustion, and/or drama. So now that we are in full-fledged summer mode, if you find yourself feeling bone-weary, that’s perfectly normal! This week, I encourage you to recognize the current intensity you’re experiencing for what it is: a predictable rhythm of the summer. Knowing this is a recurring pattern should enable you to be gentle with yourself and make behavioral adjustments that will allow you not only to survive but thrive during the summer crunch time.
10 Tips for Thriving During Crunch Time
I believe that stressful times call for unique coping strategies. The following tips are the collected wisdom about how others maintain sanity during the summer crunch time. The underlying theme is that when you’re pressed for time, you must be proactive, strategic, and clear about how you spend each moment. Too often when things get hectic, we sacrifice our own needs so that everyone else’s can get met. Instead, each of these suggestions is aimed at minimizing the things that don’t matter so that you can move through the busiest time of the year without surrendering your health or productivity.
Tip #1: Clearly Communicate To Others That It Is Crunch Time
Let those who live with you and/or are impacted by your behavior know that the next week (or two) will be difficult, assure them that it’s a finite period of time, and let them know you appreciate their support and understanding. I find that people are willing to assist me when I communicate my needs ahead of time.
Tip #2: Lower Your Standards In Non-Essential Areas Of Life
Typically, I sleep 7 hours per night. When I’m in a crunch, I sleep 5-6 hours per night when it really should be more. Sleep is one of those things that should be non-negotiable! The point is to ask yourself: what can I let slide a bit without the negative consequences?
Tip #3: Ruthlessly Assess What ACTUALLY Needs To Get Done
Some people do not check their email every day, so it might not be a good idea to email certain people on a regular basis since they won’t be reading it anyway. You can save time by either calling those people you need to get a hold of or sending them a quick text. This way you can spend your time emailing those who will actually be checking.
Tip #4: Say NO To Every Request From Now Until The End Of The Summer
If you are struggling to find time to complete all of the things on your to-do list, it makes no sense to add more items. In other words, when your time is scarce, one of the worst things you can do is to take on any additional responsibilities. Say “no” often, clearly, and without guilt.
Tip #5: Every Day Needs A Plan
Take 30 minutes on Sunday night to get your to-do list out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Then force yourself to place each of your tasks onto a specific time in your calendar. If you don’t have enough time for the tasks, then delegate them, re-negotiate the deadline, or let them go. This will help clarify your week and force you to make the tough decisions in advance. Then each morning, you only need to spend two minutes reviewing the items you must complete for that day. This will keep you focused and confident that the truly important things will get done.
Tip #6: Take Time To Breath For At Least 30 Minutes Each Day
When people get really busy, one of the first things they are ready to sacrifice is their health! This term, put yourself, your future, and your daily “me time” into the non-negotiable category (along with family & friends). There are MANY other ways to be efficient besides eliminating the one activity that is central to your well-being, career, and long-term success.
Tip #7: Only Check E-Mail One Time Per Day (Max)
E-mail begets more e-mail. When you have little time, the least effective way to spend it is writing e-mails. Unless you’re a big time CEO, there really is no need to check your email more than once (or twice) a day. It’s unlikely to cause a crisis and typically works out just fine.
Tip #8: Eliminate Unnecessary Electronic Distractions
If you subscribe to any listservs, sign off until after the summer is over. Listservs create lots of e-mail in your inbox, very little of which is critical information that you’ll need during the summer months. While you’re at it, why not take a respite from all electronic time-wasters: Facebook, Twitter, television, etc.
Tip #9: Take Care Of Your Body
Exercise reduces stress. When I don’t have time to go to the gym, I opt for using the stairs instead of elevators in buildings, take quick walks at lunchtime, or just put on some music for five minutes and dance around. Be creative! Whatever you need to do to get your heart rate up and your body moving will benefit you when you need it the most.
Tip #10: End Every Day With Gratitude And A Treat!
As each day comes to a close, take a moment to thank God for all the things that went well and affirm that everything in your life is working for your highest good. I insist on treating myself because I know I deserve it. And so do you!
This week, I hope that you find the strength to try some new summertime strategies, the creativity to adapt them to your unique situation, and the comfort of knowing that you are not alone in your struggle.