“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it”- C.S. Lewis
Are you carrying a heavy load (of work, emotions, or another stressor) in life? I found this quote by C.S. Lewis in my copy of the 365 Days of Wonder quote book, and it made me stop for a second.
Isn’t it so true that we may be able to change how heavy or light our workload feels, even if we can’t change the load itself?
Read my short post below to find out tips and strategies I came across in my search!
On Managing Your Workload
Here’s how I manage my workload:
Google Calendar scheduling for everything, using my fun, colour-filled method. Now, I know not everyone swears by Google Calendar, but it’s a life-saver for me. Reminders, colour-coding to see what I have going on at a glance – I love it!
Signing up for projects I can handle, and then doing a reality-check to see if I can really take on more. For example, I’ve stopped accepting new students for now.
Organizing my physical space in a minimalist style so I feel I have a lot of space
Learning to have the discipline to actually follow your Google Calendar, not get distracted by the latest Netflix or Amazon Prime series, and to reach the goals you set is just as difficult as it sounds. Some people enjoy using the “Pomodoro Method” and setting an egg timer for a “focus session” of 45 minutes. Personally, I find that giving myself rewards works best.
I will admit, though, that I’m a little nervous about the quality and content of my PhD thesis. You know, as much as they say “Done Is Better Than Perfect”, it’s an isolating project that’s so difficult to tell if you’re doing right. It’s also so difficult to compare when your content is likely wildly different from the next person’s.
Some teachers have told me they struggle with lesson planning in the same way.
Thomas Curran’s TED talk on “Our Dangerous Obsession With Perfectionism” is excellent lesson-plan material I used just last week. He reminds us that we should “create a society where young people need less perfection”. Curran is funny, speaks at a good pace, and speaks on a topic that is so interesting to discuss with intermediate plus and higher students.
In fact, he even cites research about three types of perfectionism and the growing trend towards a need for “social perfectionism”.
Take a few minutes and watch it here, and don’t forget to share your thoughts on it in the comments section (at the end of the post!) 🙂
3 Ways To Carry That Workload More Lightly
Here are my top three tips!
1. Split The Load Into Parts
I’ve mentioned batching vs. multi-tasking in my posts before, and I love it. Some people, however, prefer to multi-task! I find that focuses all my energy on one task, for hours on end, and then moving to the next, makes my workload seem smaller. It may be a long day of thesis writing, a weekend of lesson planning, or an afternoon of marking exams. After I’ve picked my poison for a set number of hours, I hyperfocus on only that.
A Unique Workload Tip: 20-20-20
Now, this particular one isn’t a workload tip I’d heard before reading all about it on Thrive’s blog. Basically, they suggest taking 20 seconds every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet in front of you. They call it a “game-changer”, as it gives your eyes and mind a break. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I will be doing it this week!
2. Reward Yourself
Of course, we all have to remember to take breaks, but I do constantly catch myself and remind myself that the rewards have to be earned. For example, I’ve been meaning to go “dream apartment shopping” (two years in advance, but still) to check out a few places I might one day want to buy. I’ve now set an appointment for Saturday, but I know I’ll force myself to cancel it if I haven’t worked hard enough.
It’s so easy to try to say – well – I kind of did enough PhD/project/lesson planning (insert workload here) today. Then, head off to enjoy the reward guiltily.
STOP. We must be disciplined!
Discipline is so difficult, but I believe it’s the only way to tackle projects you really don’t want to do. Personally, I live for accountability buddies. Committing to someone besides myself has a stronger hold on me, if it’s something I don’t truly want to do. (Ahem, my thesis). I’m seeing my accountability buddy on Saturday and I know I have to update her with something much better than where I am now, a few days out.
3.Travel Physically (& Mentally) Lighter
Full disclosure: This one is completely my own tip. I haven’t researched this one anywhere, but I will say that it works for me.
Basically, what I’m now is trying to reduce my physical load as a metaphor or symbol for my actual workload. I realize this sounds a bit crazy, but it’s working!
Usually, I carry around a huge backpack full of stuff, as I move from teaching at the university, to private tutoring kids, to working with teens, to my own project work. Well, I’m looking for less heavy or digital games, using less paper, and basically keeping everything on my laptop. On days where I’m successful with this, I feel much lighter inside.
I even bought this cool new gadget for digital nomads from a Barcelona-based company called beblau. It’s an Indiegogo project, so I’ll let you know if it works well when I get it! It keeps all of your smaller stuff organized and attached to your laptop, so I can’t wait to try it.
As for travelling “mentally” lighter, making my backpack and bags lighter is my only tip at the moment. As you may know, I’m off to a relaxation and meditation/yoga camp for a few days over Easter. So, I’ll see if I can post more about “mental lightness” then!
Well, to end this short and sweet post, I’d like to ask you this:
What do you do when you feel like you just can’t keep up with the work, or workload? What are your tips for coping with a heavy workload?
I’d love for you to share your strategies in the comments below! I read and respond to every comment 🙂
Have a lovely and productive week!
P.S. Photography fans, the photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took right here in Catalunya in Montserrat.
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