Spring is a busy time for many families, with a long list of end-of-school-year activities on top of yard work, gardening, and spring cleaning, plus all the rest of daily life stuff. Even though my kids are beyond the busy high school phase, this spring is filled with important family events and other local commitments. Every weekend from the end of April through Memorial Day is booked. The schedule includes important events in three different states.
Yeah, it’s going to be a busy month.
All the more reason to be intentional about how I spend my time and energy. Because busier can quickly become hectic, stress-filled, and grumpy—and who wants to be grumpy at weddings and graduations?
And so I have been pondering how best to keep a positive mindset during the coming month, so when I get to those important family celebrations, I am able to thoroughly enjoy them. Here is what I’ve come up with:
10 suggestions for staying sane during busy times
- Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. During a busy season we can’t do it all. We have to decide what matters most and eliminate (or postpone) tasks and activities that aren’t critical. If w don’t think through our schedule ahead of time we’ll get to the end of the day and discover we’ve wasted half our time on stuff that wasn’t important.
- Unplug. We all know how easy it is to waste time with our technology, so during a busy season we should be ultra vigilant. Don’t let mindless screen time steal your precious free moments. In fact, if you’ve considered trying a fast from TV or social media, now might be a good time.
- Don’t skip personal time. When we get crazy busy, self-care is often the first thing to go. Big mistake. If we don’t take proper care of our bodies, emotions, and spirits we’ll become miserable— even while we’re accomplishing that long list of important tasks.
- Say No. When the schedule is crammed with important dates, we have to say no to things. Even things we might love to do. Or things we feel guilty for not doing. This one little word is critical for keeping our sanity when things get busy. Use it wisely.
- Fight for family time. Whenever possible, eat at least one meal together each day, even if it means eating at odd times. Also do your utmost to preserve other family rituals (bedtime stories, Saturday pancake breakfasts, or whatever). Make sure to squeeze in time with your spouse, too. During busy seasons you and your spouse need to be more connected, not less, so you can function as a team.
- Avoid Frazzle Mode. The busier the day, the more tempted we are to multitask in an attempt to get it all done. Don’t fall for it! Stick to your priorities, take a deep breath, and focus on the task at hand. One task at a time. Breathe in, breathe out. Focus. You’ll not only feel less stressed, your work will better quality, and you might be surprised how efficiently things get done.
- Embrace imperfection. A busy season is a time to make concessions. There is simply not enough time to do everything to the standard you might wish. Remember your priorities and be intentional about putting what really matters (such as time with loved ones and self-care) above spotless windows, weed-free flower beds, or other non-essential activities.
- Get outside and move. Exercise relieves stress. Being outside relieves stress. Sunshine is good for the soul. For best results, combine all three. Even a ten-minute walk can improve your energy level and mood. So go outside and notice a wild flower or a bird singing while you get that sluggish blood flowing. And don’t forget to breathe deep (unless the farmer down the hill has just spread fresh manure on his fields, that is).
- Be all there. A busy season involves special events: band concerts, school plays, graduations, weddings, awards banquets. When we get to those big moments we need to drink them in. Resist the temptation to look ahead to the next item on the list and get your head in the moment. Taste the food. Notice the bouquets and the sparkly dresses. Take photos. Smile. Enjoy.
- Look back and be grateful. If you are the sort who keeps journals, think back over each day and list at least three things you were thankful for. If you’re not the journaling type (me neither) get in the habit of practicing mental gratitude. And take every opportunity to verbally thank anyone who does a kind or thoughtful deed.
I hope these suggestions help you enjoy your busy spring.
Oh, and if some of my blog posts are short and sweet, you’ll know why.
Happy busy (but sane!) Spring.