The change of seasons brings a change of schedule and some anxiety for all about how we’re going to manage it.
Here are some strategies which may help. If you’ve got others, please add a comment!
Choose your outfit the night before.
It’s often beneficial to separate planning from execution. Planning requires decision making and sometimes problem solving. Execution is about completing tasks you know how to do. Since mornings are often more rushed, take time the evening before to select what you’re going to wear the next day . I check the weather and often plan from footwear up. Layering is your best friend for days which start out cool and warm up, or for transitions between hot weather and cool, air conditioned environments.
Fuel up for your day.
Your brain is on average 2% of your body mass, yet consumes about 20% of your energy.1 Tune into what your body seeks to keep thinking clearly. If you don’t want to eat a full breakfast before you leave for work or school, identify some portable, nutrient rich snacks which you can take with you. You don’t want to end up depleted during your morning, or worse, “hangry”!
You might think caffeine is helping you boost your focus, but recent research suggests that it is simply an alleviation of your body’s craving for the substance. Consider cutting out caffeine to see if your mind is equally sharp without it.
Create a task management system.
When schedules change and we take on new challenges, there is often a worry about keeping on top of everything. Because our brains are challenged to remember everything, as Daniel Levitin suggests in his book, “The Organized Mind”, “Writing things down conserves the mental energy expended in worrying that you might forget something and in trying not to forget it.2
Having a system that works for you is critical to staying on top of things, and comforting because you know you depend on it. Key elements of a system include a place to gather your intentions – a “to do list”, a calendar to make time less abstract, and notifications to cue your attention.
When building your task management system, pay attention to how you like to work. There is no right and wrong between paper and online solutions. What is important is that it is accessible when you need it, easy to interact with, and redundant (possible to recover information if lost).
Avoid making a mess.
When arriving home, it’s easy to plop down our backpacks, briefcases, lunch and gym bags, kick off our shoes, throw off our coats, hats and sunglasses and toss our keys. Generally, though, this approach leads to chaos. Turn your “drop and dash” into “stop and stash”!
To avoid a stressful entry way, make sure every item you come in with has an easy home to land in. Drawers or hooks near the front door for keys. Cubbies or hooks for backpacks. Use a magazine holder for mail and papers parents need to review. Offer a bin per person for accessories. Unpack your lunch bag and prepare it for its next use right away. This especially important on Friday nights to avoid unpleasant surprises!!
Changing behaviours takes time, so a little lot of coaching is likely required of housemates as you adopt the system. Not only with it keep the entryway clear, everyone will know where items are when they’re running out the door!
NEW – In recent months I’ve created new workshops which have been well received by clients such as Facebook Canada and Ryerson University. If your organization is looking for an informative, engaging talk on boosting productivity, becoming more organized or better managing work-life integration, please pass on my contact information, or connect us and I’ll be happy to follow up. With many thanks.
- Appraising the brain’s energy budget. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
- Levitin, D. (2014). The Organized Mind, Allen Lane, Penguin Canada Books