Today's Post is by Lori Woodward Simons, Regular contributing writer for
FineArtViews. Find out how you can be a guest author.
I've read my share of books written by life coaches. I've gained useful advice from each of them. But one day not too long ago, it occurred to me that if I concentrate on reducing the number of events that normally stress me out, I don't need detailed "to do" lists.
Be Aware of What Stresses You the Most
For example, today - instead of listing everything I need to get done in the next few weeks on paper, I asked myself, "What can I do today to make my life less stressful tomorrow?"
The answers come easily. I have to be prepared to leave the house at 7:00 am tomorrow with all my painting supplies packed in the car. If ignore that fact today, I'll have to rise very early and pack under duress - which will make me frustrated (when I can't find something), overly tired, and ultimately late for the plein air event. By the time I arrive there, I'll have a smile on my face, but I won't feel settled enough to focus on painting.
When I'm really on top of things, I ask myself "What can I do today to reduce stress next week
?" Well... I can write my blogs a week ahead (which is what I'm doing right now). Of course, I can't do everything in the course of one day, but I can do a bit of this and that, in order to reduce the pile of pending tasks that will certainly become high priority responsibilities by next week.
Stop Playing Catchup
Problem is - I'm playing catch up today for what I didn't get done yesterday, so how can I possibly address any of the items that are in the queue for next week or even next month? I can't... so I'm not only stressed out, but I'm angry with myself for not being in control of my workload. I feel irresponsible.
Am I irresponsible? Not really; I just feel that way when my life's tasks take control of my time instead of the other way around. I'm the one who needs to be in control - not tossed around like a wave at sea. And even though I am in control enough to pull everything off pretty well, I'm way too stressed out about it to enjoy going about my work.
I Can't Fill All Life's Roles With Equal Effort
We live in a busy, busy world. We fill so many roles; sometimes we forget which ones we are acting out at any particular moment. Today, I am a housewife, author, Twitterholic, errand runner, food prep, and blog writer. It's too late for me to whittle down my stress level today, but I can do something today to ensure that tomorrow is less stressful.
What things are likely to cause me the most stress in the next couple of days?
1. Not having my art supplies organized and packed.
2. No clean clothes for the weekend.
3. Not knowing if there's enough in my checking account to auto pay my pending Visa bill.
4. Text and captions not finished for Workshop Magazine Article.
5. Deadline for art submission to gallery show
6. Nothing to eat in the house
7. Faucet dripping and needing to be fixed.
Your list is likely to be completely different than mine. Now I can assign a "stress value" to each of the things listed above. The one that will cause me the most embarrassment - not meeting my deadline for an article. Failing to meet deadlines is way up there on the stress scale for me. Not having my art supplies ready for Putney won't embarrass me, but it'll put me in a tizzy before I even arrive. Having no idea if my checking account is stocked with enough to pay my Visa should bother me way more than it does. I'm not the best bookkeeper. Still, not knowing will weigh on my mind and distract me from what I need to focus on.
The faucet dripping is not a big deal - until one day when it does more than drip. Clean clothes: As long as they don't smell... Food and dinner? Order out - Chinese or Pizza?
Running a business and simultaneously juggling life's responsibilities is no small task. The hardest part is that it takes considerable focus to get into "the painting zone"... when my mind is distracted by the balls I let drop. That's when "overwhelmed" sets in.
So let me get back to the original premise: What can I do today, to reduce stress tomorrow, next week and next month? When I've answered these questions with clarity, those answers are all I need "to do". I'm not putting down lists, but knowing what events cause me undue stress, helps me to triage my tasks.