Busy seasons — we’ve all been there. Maybe it’s college finals, planning a wedding, going back to school, a career change, or anything else that demands most of your time and attention.
They often lead to that burnout feeling. We’re exhausted, we’re drained, we’re weak. I’ve been there and I’m back in the busy season right now. I don’t always do it gracefully or avoid burnout completely, but I have learned lessons along the way that help me keep it together. Here are my top 5 steps to survive a busy season without (or at least with minimal) burnout.
#1: Take care of yourself!
This is number one because it’s absolutely the most important! You can’t do anything well if you aren’t first taking care of yourself. You know the ole mask on an airplane thing — if the plane has an emergency put your oxygen mask on before helping others. You can’t be much good to anyone else if you’re passed out, or in this case, burnt out.
Focus on the 3 major areas: sleep, nutrition/water, exercise. I know exactly what you’re thinking because its gone through my mind too… “I don’t have time!” I’m going to help you find more time in the next few steps, but first lets transform that mindset. When you’re extremely busy, likely the first thing to go will be one (or all) of those 3 things. We’re busy so we stay up extra late, grab drive through dinner, and skip any sort of exercise. How does that make you feel though?? It makes me feel even worse. I’m not saying you have to spend 2 hours in the gym, fix up a fancy meal, and sleep 12 hours, but you should do the bare minimum of what makes you feel best.
Keep a water bottle with you to refill throughout your day. Water actually does make us feel more energized and the hydration is good for your entire system! Incorporate easy, healthy meals into your days — maybe salads with different ingredients you have on hand or a crockpot chili. Those won’t take up too much extra time, but you’ll feel so much better AND save time and money in the process by avoiding the drive through lines. An intense workout may not be what your body needs when it’s super busy, but a 20-30 minute walk can do the trick. Download a good podcast and get some fresh air. It’ll clear your mind and even help you sleep better at night.
#2: Plan ahead
Plan your clothes and meals. This is the biggest time saver for me! Each day that I have a commitment to be somewhere (work, class, an event, etc) I prepare my outfit and my meals the night before. At the foot of our bed I lay out everything I need for my outfit including shoes and accessories. This saves an enormous amount of time in the morning when I’m getting ready. What takes me max 5 minutes at night could take me 20 minutes or more in the morning if I’m unprepared. Have you ever tried to pick out an outfit when you’re in a rush?? It’s nearly impossible and you just make yourself late and frustrated, which is the last thing you need in a busy season!
Same thing goes for my meals. First, I determine which meals I’ll need to eat out of the house. I prefer to eat breakfast later in the day, so usually I need to pack at least breakfast and lunch for a work day. Lately I’ve also had night classes right after work, so I need dinner too. Next, I put together my food in my lunch box and leave it in the fridge to be grabbed in the morning. I used to just leave all food items in the fridge individually, but I feel much more organized and am less likely to forget something when I pack it all together ahead of time.
This is also where meal prepping comes in! I usually spend some time on Sunday preparing food that can be eaten throughout the week and I’ll put meals together as much as I can. Frozen food options and go to meals are your best friend! Meal planning and prepping deserves its own blog post, what do you think??
#3: Automate what you can
For us, the big one here is bill payments. I think I finally have as many of our bills as I can on auto draft! There are still a few that I pay manually for whatever reason, but the majority are drafted from our account automatically. I still check our accounts each day, but this keeps me from having to actually log into every bill account and manually pay. Doesn’t seem like much, but I’m all about saving time and energy wherever I can!
If you’re anything like me, you can become a bit scattered when you’re super busy and the days fly by. You don’t want to wake up one day and the shower won’t turn on because you accidentally forgot to pay the water bill (this has happened to us once and never again).
There may be other tasks in your day-to-day that you can automate as well. I encourage it, especially in this busy season! What other areas do you or will you automate to free up time? I’d love to hear any of your tips in the comments!
#4: Say “no” more often
I know this sounds harsh, but you cannot do everything. It’s hard to say no, but it’s important to protect your precious time and energy. When you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to everything else. In a busy season, be extra sure that you’re reserving your “yes” for the very best things.
You may even need to back out of accepted commitments. I’m not a fan of going back on your word or standing someone up, but there are times that it’s necessary. If you decide you need to change a “yes” to a “no,” do it as early as possible and be honest. Most people will understand. Try to avoid doing that in the future by checking your calendar and being absolutely sure before agreeing to something.
You’re probably in or close to survival mode in a busy season and time is your most valuable asset. If you do find yourself with extra time, it’s helpful to have already set your priorities (such as taking care of yourself and spending time with your spouse). You know best, so spend your time wisely.
#5: Weekly recharge & listen
Schedule a weekly recharge for yourself and listen to what your body needs. Depending on your personality type or how your week has been, this recharge may be some quiet time alone or a fun afternoon out with friends. There is no right or wrong answer here! Having a recharge on your calendar each week will give you something to look forward to and help keep burnout at bay. You’re not likely to burnout when you’re re-energized, right!?
This recharge might be a date with your spouse, a relaxing bubble bath, an afternoon of hiking, a gym class, time to be creative with writing or art — maybe even try something different each week. The possibilities are endless! The important thing is to actually schedule it. Look at your calendar for the week and carve out an hour or 2 by making an appointment with yourself. This can even tie into step 1 because it’s something you’re doing to care for yourself. See how I did that?? 😉
I know it’s not always this clear-cut and simple to do, but do the best you can. You’re more capable than you know and I’m sure you’ll flourish no matter how crazy it gets! No season, no matter how busy it is, can last forever. You know what they say… this too shall pass. You CAN do it! I’m walking with you through it and cheering you on every step of the way.
Lets help each other. I’d love to hear any of your busy season tips and tricks in the comments. It becomes a bit easier when we do it together.