I recently read a post by fellow blogger Rebekka about trying to do everything at once and failing. As I started writing a comment, I realized I had a lot to say on the topic, and that we probably weren't the only ones who have experienced this exhausting problem.
How do we get everything done -- whether "everything" is school, work, blogging, NaNoWriMo, reading, etc. etc. etc. -- and still have time to just plain relax? Have enjoyable pastimes moved from relaxing activities to looming to-do items? What do you do when your to-do list is longer than 24-hours, and fun is no longer fun?
I'm definitely no expert, but I have spent an exceptional amount of time pondering this over the past months, and I'd like to share a few tips that have helped me. Several of these pertain directly to blogging, but they can certainly be applied to other things in life.
1. Take a break...
...or just cut back. I recently took a month-long break from blogging, and by the end of it I was refreshed and excited to get back into it again. I had even stockpiled a few draft posts that I had felt inspired to write during the break, so I had some back-up for when I didn't have time or just plain didn't want to write a post.
If taking a break isn't possible or doesn't sound appealing, consider cutting back (at least temporarily). You don't have to post every day -- in fact, you could get away with once a week. Pick a day (I chose Tuesdays), and schedule your posts ahead of time. Again, if you have time and/or feel inspired to write an extra post, write away, and save those posts for when you lack time and inspiration.
What is most important on your to-do list? For some people, dividing to-do items into big rocks, gravel, and sand helps to put a visual on this. Top-priority things are big rocks; these go in the jar first. Gravel represents mid-priority items, and they fill in the gaps. Sand follows, seeping into whatever cracks are left over. Or maybe you just want to write a list and star the things that MUST get done TODAY. Whatever method works for you, make sure you know what your priorities are.
3. Use what you have
Use photos you already have (we'll never know!). You shouldn't feel obligated to take and edit new photos for every blog post when you probably have an enormous pile of them in your computer already. And no one will think less of you for using images from Goodreads for your book reviews.
Remember those posts you set aside for a rainy day? Use them. When blogging feels like a chore, publish one of those stockpiled drafts. Write when you feel like it. (I'm talking to all of my fellow hobby-bloggers out there -- if blogging is your job, then I guess it is sort of a chore...)
4. Set a bed time
Yes, we're all adults here (and teens), but I find routine immensely helpful, especially when it comes to sleep. If you don't set a specific time for shutting down, you could potentially go on all night, which leads to waking up late and/or feeling groggy and icky and generally all-around terrible in the morning. And that is not good for productivity. Also, by setting a bed time, you allow for also setting a reading time. I like to read for about an hour before turning in for the night -- not only does this ensure that I get to read, but it helps me wind down at the end of the day.
5. Set a wake-up time
...and do something you enjoy first thing in the morning. I struggle with this one, but I've found that waking up at the same time every morning is as helpful as going to bed at (about) the same time every night. Set your alarm, and challenge yourself to not hit snooze. If you have work or school to get to, leave plenty of time to not only get ready, but also to do something you enjoy. Go for a run, do yoga, read a devotional. This starts your day on a positive note, and gives you something to look forward to in the morning. And eat breakfast. Always, always, always eat breakfast.
6. Take breaks!
If you're feeling overwhelmed, you're probably not getting much done because you're too busy panicking over all the things you're not getting done. Go for a five-minute walk (or longer, if you have time!), take a bath, call a friend, grab a snack... even running an errand can be refreshing if you've been holed up in the house all day. Just make sure to set a time limit so your break doesn't turn into procrastination.
Try to set aside a day, or at least a half day, where you don't worry about being productive. For me, this is Sunday. I go to church in the morning, and then I have the rest of the day to read, bake, play board games, go for a long walk -- whatever I feel like doing! I'm not super strict about this; Sunday has also become laundry day, and I sometimes finish up a few chores that didn't get done on Saturday, but for the most part, Sunday is a day of relaxing.
Do you have an impossible to-do list? What tips do you have for getting things done and still having some time to do what you love?