Needing quiet

woman-1958723_1920We’ve been down a person at work this week. As a result, everyone has been a lot busier and I’ve been answering far more phone calls than I’d like. Monday was the worst. After a hectic day of dealing with clients, I went home to do some much-needed food prep.

Now I love making food. It’s relaxing and a great way to unwind. Not so when your roommate camps out in the kitchen for the entire three hours you’re cooking. She didn’t have anything that required the kitchen. She just wanted to be social. By the end of it, my half-hearted replies weren’t even coherent and I wanted to curl up in a ball. I made my escape as soon as I finished up the dishes.

When I’m overwhelmed my brain doesn’t function. I can’t explain how I’m feeling. I can’t think or analyze. Emotions, feelings, irritability, and frustration ebb and flow in my mind. I can’t piece out in words replies to normal questions or comments. And unfortunately, telling my roommate I’ve had a busy day and am feeling dead isn’t enough for her to lay off.

To counteract the overwhelm, I went full anti-social on Tuesday and Wednesday after work. It was a success! I felt so much better. I did have a Tango class on Wednesday night. But I love dance class, so it’s not something that’s too draining.

But it was a good reminder of how delicate the balance is between quiet and noise. With a busy spring and summer coming up I need to be more aware and proactive about taking the quiet time I need.

How’s your week going?

Another busy one

coffee-2592791_1920Busy weekends can be fun. But they inevitably lead to stress down the road. This past Friday and Saturday were hectic. Both days were filled with lots of people, loud conversations, and long hours of driving with passengers. By Saturday night I was completely drained both physically and mentally. Sunday was a slight improvement but I still spent the better part of the day with my roommate as we grocery shopped and food prepped.

Then the work week started again on Monday. I knew my roommate would be home early that day. So I decided to head to the gym for a workout and some much needed endorphins. It was awesome. But as soon as I walked into our place, she started chattering at me, and my mind blanked.

You know the feeling of total burnout? When you hear something but you don’t comprehend it. She kept stating random things about her day and expecting some kind of response. But my mind was so frazzled I couldn’t come up with anything in reply. I replied with, “oh” and “yeah”. But all I could think of was “I don’t care” and how much I needed to escape. I just couldn’t do it. So after a few moments of awkward conversation I headed to my room to recharge. Fortunately I’ve had two days of relative quiet to recover and I’m doing a lot better now. But it was a good reminder of my limits.

How was your weekend?

4 tips for an introvert at work

548646841_e4e449165a_zThis time of year is particularly busy at work. We have stacks of work piled on all available surfaces and there’s a continuous stream of chaos that often gets to be too much. This past week has found me feeling overwhelmed on several occasions. However, unlike in previous years, I’ve been able to intentionally take action to combat these feelings. Seeing how far I’ve come has been incredibly encouraging.

I wanted to share some of my daily schedule, along with some tips that have helped me actively combat stressful situations.

I arrive each morning a little before 8 am, a few minutes before we open up. I’m alone for the first 30 minutes or so and play instrumental music on low while quietly working on tasks from the previous day. My current playlist consists of piano arrangements from the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack (I haven’t played the game but the music is beautiful). This is also when I’ll make myself a fresh cup of coffee.

We get the largest influx of work in the morning. This is when the overwhelm starts to set in. If I don’t do anything about it, it gets progressively worse. But if I take action, it helps immensely. Here are a few tips.

1. Write out a to-do list.
When faced with a huge amount of work, its easy to get overwhelmed. When this inevitably happens, I pull out a notepad or a blank document and write out all the tasks I need to accomplish in order of priority. I always include meals and snacks on this list too (by putting food on the same level as work, I’m less likely to neglect feeding myself). Writing down everything that’s floating around in my head dispels the panic and gives me a game plan to focus on.

2. Stay on task.
Throughout the day, people will always give me more work. If its something urgent, I’ll do it immediately. However, 95% of these tasks aren’t, so I’ll move them to the side of my desk and write them on the bottom of my list. They still get done before the end of the day, but I don’t allow them to interrupt what I’m currently working on. I used to drop everything and work on every new task that came along, but that only lead to frustration. By sticking strictly to my list, everything gets done and it keeps me mentally organized.

3. Avoid distractions.
There are always going to be distractions, especially when you work on a computer. I check my social media and personal email on my lunch break, but otherwise I won’t even keep an internet window open. I also keep my desk as clean as I can. I have my glass of water, lip balm, and a few office supplies in front of me but the rest go into my drawer. I’ll only keep one stack of work on my desk at any one time, otherwise I get easily overwhelmed.

4. Monitor my energy.
I try to monitor both my energy and mood periodically to determine whether I need to take a break or grab something to eat. I always keep a glass of water or herbal tea on my desk and will refill them when needed. By checking in with myself every hour or so, I can usually circumvent complete overwhelm and exhaustion by taking breaks when I need them and staying well fed and hydrated.

These are just a few things that help me on a daily basis at work. Do you have any additional tips or tricks for beating overwhelm?

Image credit: “Reading” by Paul Bence is licensed under CC by 2.0