I spent today hunched over my computer as I dredged through a backlog of email so impressive I could star in my own episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive – Virtual Edition.
I’m doing my best to get caught up before school starts and all hell breaks loose. If you’ve followed along, you probably know that I’ll be student teaching this fall. I’m also taking on the new and
terrifying exciting role of adjunct professor and will be teaching my first college class starting in September. Added to my responsibilities at church, family and friends that I’d like to see occasionally, and a weekend class on study skills for elementary school aged children, I have a lot on my plate.
Whether your fall consists of 937 jobs or running kids to soccer, ballet, and piano lessons, it is traditionally a time of change and chaos. Here are 4 ways to fight back.
1. Get Organized
You know I love my planner, but the paper thing isn’t for everyone. Organization, however, is no joke. Preparation isn’t just about knowing what is going to happen. Preparation means controlling what you can so that the uncontrollables in your life don’t derail you. If you’d rather go the techie route, you can use Google Calendars or apps like Any.do to track your tasks, appointments, and responsibilities.
For my self-employed or freelance readers, try an app like Timesheet – Time Tracker to track your hours and make billing a breeze. I used this app to track my students when I was a tutor and it was incredibly easy to use. Best of all, it’s free!
2. Take the Stress out of Dinner
Picture this – it’s been a long day. You were 3 minutes late picking up princess from math team because the little mister’s ballroom dance classes ran over (that’s right ballroom dance, you got a problem with that?) and now she won’t stop giving you lip about how you abandoned her and how damaged she’ll be forever. While you practice deep breathing and try not to reach out and show her just how damaged she could be, it suddenly occurs to you that you still have to figure out what to feed the ankle-biters. Grrrr…
The Resourceful Gals have an ingenious system for making dinner time a snap by doing a whole month’s worth of planning at once. It takes a bit of work to set up, but it could save you some serious time (and money!) in the long run.
3. Don’t be a Morning Person
People who try to wake me up in the morning do so at their own risk. No joke, it’s not pretty. I’m barely able to function, let alone achieve any level productivity before my first (and second) cup of coffee. Add in the stress of breakfast, backpacks, and bus stops and I’m super glad the only person I have to get out the door in the morning is me.
To preempt some of the morning chaos, try a bedtime checklist. Lay out your clothes, fill the coffee pot, make sure your keys are hung up, and get your bag ready for the next day. Give the kiddos a fun bedtime ritual that includes making sure they have that elusive red folder and that lunches are packed.
This adorable checklist from The Gunny Sack can be put in a picture frame so that little ones can check off items with a dry erase marker before heading off to the land of nod. Everyone sleeps a little easier and mornings aren’t as traumatic.
Picking out your clothes the night before also prevents that morning panic when you realize that your favorite blouse is in the dirty clothes or that you never sewed the button back on to your trousers. *Gasp*
4. Break down your To Do’s.
The real danger of a busy life (besides collapsing from exhaustion) is forgetting things in the fray. Enter, beautiful, glorious lists. Besides the standard grocery or to-do variety, lists are a great way to plan out long-term projects.
Start by determining your goal, project, or task and listing the steps required to meet it. Assign a due date, then work backward to figure out when the steps each need to be completed. That way, when life picks up, you don’t have to worry about large deadlines creeping up on you.
I have 20 artifacts to complete for my internship, on top of lesson plans, graded papers, and band practices. The completed packet isn’t due until January, but it’s much too large of a project to put off until the winter months. Instead, I have deadlines every two weeks, or so, to keep me on track so that I roll into the new year (relatively) stress free.
If the kiddos have huge projects coming up (science fair, anyone?) breakdown their tasks into manageable chunks. If they spend an hour every week working on the monstrous project, you won’t have to stay up the night before it’s due gluing letters on a cardboard backdrop (yeah, I’ve been there too.)
Happy Back to School!