Introversion & balance

balance-1842292_1920Balance is elusive. As soon as I think I have a hold of it, it slips through my fingers. I used to be so busy that things would fall through the cracks all the time. But I’ve had to assess my life and differentiate between being busy and being productive.

Most of my week days are the same. I head to work a bit early so I can savour some alone time before everyone else arrives. I’ll sit quietly at my desk with a steaming mug of coffee while I peruse emails and start on paperwork. After work is finished, I’ll head to the gym for a workout, to dance class, or I’ll run any errands that come up. Then I’ll drive back home to heat up some leftovers for dinner and take a quick shower. If I have the time, I’ll go for a short walk to unwind and process the day’s events. My evenings are usually spent in my room with the door closed so I can get some quiet reading in. Then it’s time for bed. I won’t attend social events on a week night but will instead schedule them on the weekend. I find this system works well for me. Having a set schedule keeps me sane.

But in order for this to work, I’ve had to plan out my days and stick to the schedule. I write out a list of things that must get done. Work, workouts, dance class, grocery shopping , meal prep, laundry, cleaning, and quiet time. I use the passion planner but there are lots of options out there. I write in my “wake up” and “go to bed” times then slot in all the must-do tasks. Any open spaces are free time that I can fill with hobbies, walks, or keep them open. It ensures the important things get done and reduces my stress.

How do you find balance?

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

Quote of the day

I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee… I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team.
-Steve Wozniak

Adventures at work

workingI was reading Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe during lunch yesterday and I read the following quote:

“I talk with many Shadow Dwellers who are mystified by the fact that chatty workers are rarely reprimanded. Sit and gossip and you are fun; close the door (if you have one) and you are antisocial. And we’re talking about work here, not a party!” (Laurie Helgoe divides introverts into two groups. There are the “accessible introverts” that often pretend to be extroverted, and the “shadow dwellers” who don’t try to fit into extroverted society.)

When I read this, I almost laughed out loud, because that is exactly what happens at my workplace. And today was no exception. I arrived at work a bit before 9 am. Two of my co-workers were standing and chatting in the kitchen. I put my lunch in the fridge and then walked over to my desk. A few minutes later, both walked over and congregated at one co-worker’s desk which is conveniently located right behind mine. They continued talking for at least another half hour, but it was probably closer to an hour. It just about drove me crazy, and I was trying really hard to ignore it. If I’m not working while at work, I feel that I’m wasting my time and not earning my wage. I don’t mind talking for a little bit, but after a while I need to go back to work. But I guess a lot of people don’t think that way.

Do you have any interesting work stories?

Image credit: “Working Hard” by Thomas Heylen is licensed under CC by 2.0

Quiet time

OfficeAs you can probably guess from the title, I love my quiet time. I love it when I can get to the office before everyone and sit and work in silence. I find that as more and more people arrive, my feeling of contentment starts to disappear. I try to take breaks during the day, but generally I am completely wiped out by the end of day. If I notice that I’m feeling overwhelmed I’ll often grab a cup of tea, walk around, and stretch and it usually helps quite a bit.

What do you do to recharge at work?

Image credit: “Station Master’s Office” by Donnie Nunley is licensed under CC by 2.0

Quiet time at work

ReadingI work in an open-concept office.
I love quiet time.
So how can I put these two things together?

I take little tea/coffee breaks when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed
Getting up out of my desk and walking around makes me feel better

Of course there’s nothing that can replace true quiet time and solitude, but that has to wait until I get home.

What are your ways of carving out time to recharge while at work?

Image credit: “Reading” by Brendan Murphy is licensed under CC by 2.0