An absurdly busy week

woman-1839798_1920I’m still in recovery mode.

Two weeks ago, I had a friend come to visit for a week. I thought things would be okay. After all, we’re both introverts. They were staying with another friend, so I’d have plenty of quiet time to recharge and things would be fine. But life rarely goes as planned.

I had trouble falling asleep Tuesday evening before they arrived. Consequently, I was very tired on Wednesday, using caffeine to keep myself functioning. I picked them up at the airport at 8 PM, we grabbed some food, then I dropped them off and headed home.

I was still working normal hours so we met up after work. Thursday was dinner and an escape room with friends. We stayed in for supper on Friday but I was so tired I dropped them off early before coming back and crashing. Saturday to Monday was full of driving. We traveled the city and countryside so they could play tourist. It also involved less frequent meals, which didn’t help my lack of energy.

By Tuesday I was a mess. I was desperately trying to be social and hospitable but failing. We got supper that evening and they wanted to watch a movie. The thought of anything stimulating made me want to cry. But I forced myself to sit through the two hours, then left right after. By the time I dropped them off at the airport on Wednesday, I was done. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy they came to visit. But I didn’t have enough quiet time during that week to stay functional.

As an introvert, things in life need to be balanced. If one thing is off I can still function fairly well. But if multiple things shift, things can get rough. The combination of stress, exhaustion, lack of good sleep, fatigue, and hunger led to total burnout.

The following week was pure recovery. Other than work and grocery shopping, I didn’t go anywhere. I slept as much as possible. I didn’t make plans. I soaked up the quiet. I also took time to do the things I neglected the previous week. Reading quietly, working on creative projects, and scheduling important tasks for the coming week.

I’m still not at 100% right now but I’m working on it. How is your week going?

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

A busy month

SummertimeYou  may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as regularly as I normally do. I’m still working full-time on the weekdays, so that hasn’t changed. But on the weekends, when I can usually take a break and relax, I’ve been really busy.

This past month has been filled with camping trips, festivals, plays, concerts, movie nights, and coffee dates. Overall, its been a lot of fun. I love staying busy and spending time with others. But right now I’m close to burning out.

This past week has really shown me that I need to slow down. I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to do things because I’ve been so tired and overwhelmed. Yesterday I was super grumpy, which rarely happens, but really reveals that I’ve been pushing myself too hard.  I’ve starting doing more things on autopilot. As a result, I ended up leaving a really awkward voicemail on Wednesday. I was exhausted and needed to phone one of our clients. I knew what I had to say, but when they didn’t pick up, I was forced to scramble around in my head for a message to leave. It ended up becoming jumbled and confusing. Fortunately, I followed up with an email, explaining the situation in a more concise and clear manner.

I’ve been able to recharge a bit in the evenings so I’m not a complete mess the next day. But I’d really love a few days to do nothing. That would be awesome. This weekend I’ll be driving a few hours to see a friend, but it shouldn’t be too draining.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Image credit: “Unstable Summer” by José Manuel Ríos Valiente is licensed under CC by 2.0