4 Ways I Reclaim Control of a Crazy Busy Week

A few months ago, I wrote for Grotto Network on the things I try to do every weekend to avoid burnout. I shared how I make the most of my Saturday and Sunday to balance leisure time and getting ahead on the next week. And I still try to do those things.

But if you love side-hustling and socializing as much as my husband and I do (or you struggle to say ‘no’), then you’ll soon realize that it’s hard to make the most of your weekend when your schedule is just as full as your Monday through Friday. 

Many times, my husband and I hit a point in our week when we start to wonder if we’ve taken on too much. Sometimes there are things we can cancel or push back, but for the most part, we just need to figure out how to make the most of the time that we have.

So, here are a few things I do to get myself organized when sh*t gets cray.

1. One thing at a time

The moments when I am most stressed are when I’m thinking about *everything* that I need to do. My weekly planner will be so full that it starts to feel overwhelming, and I panic — which makes it nearly impossible to get anything done or done well.

So, I’ve learned to turn away from the week overview page and use a different section of my planner instead: a simple list.

I write down what I’m going to do in the order that I’m going to do it. Instead of thinking about how little time I have, I focus on all that I’m going to get done. Sometimes, I make a list of what I need to do in the next hour, sometimes it’s what I need to do before bed, or sometimes it’s just a list of the phone calls I need to make throughout the week. 

The list system helps me prioritize and focus my attention on the task at hand. And it’s super gratifying to cross things off the lists and marvel at all I was able to accomplish when I get to the end of the week.

The list system isn’t ideal for long-term planning, but it’s a great way to avoid stress and stay on task each day.

2. Don’t let your phone be the thing that kills you

Raise your hand if your phone is a distraction. If your hand isn’t up, then I am in awe of you (and a little jealous). As a social media manager, I have long walked the line of using my phone as a tool and personal device. It’s not easy.

If you’re going to pull an all-nighter to get stuff done or cry because you miss a deadline (hey, it happens), just don’t let your phone be the reason.

Take it from me — you will have way more self-loathing and regret if your failure is preventable (for instance, it could be as simple as deleting Instagram for a weekend) than if you can look back and know that you gave it your all. 

I’m not saying to ditch your phone or social media altogether; if Instagram makes you happy then I’m not going to judge. But when it’s crunch time, it’s just not worth it. Instead, write “check phone” at the very bottom of your list, set a time limit, and save it all for the end. 

3. Make time for God

A dear friend and mentor of mine gave me this advice when I was going into college: make time for God, and He will make time for you.

Full disclosure: I didn’t take this advice, and my college years were a hot mess. 

Luckily, I finally came to an understanding of what she meant.

When you’re feeling pressed for time, it can be a challenge to think about spending time praying or going to Mass. I get it — I stopped going for years. But I’ve learned that it’s the most important thing I can do in my week. 

Why? Well, I could tell you that the Catechism teaches that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” But that can be a hard reason to swallow if you skip Mass and feel just fine. By skipping Mass, you might get a few extra minutes of sleep, catch up with friends at brunch, or get ahead on a project.

Here’s why I think it’s worth it: I have never once regretted going to Mass. I’ve never wished I had spent less time praying when I could have been sleeping or working. Even beyond the Sunday obligation — on my most hectic weeks when I take 30 minutes for daily Mass, I always feel better and more ready to tackle what needs to get done. Without fail, Mass and prayer put my problems in perspective and help me prioritize my to-do list. 

You might be thinking, “well, that’s great for you, but not for me.” Fair — but there is a little something called sacramental grace. And, trust me, God will never be outdone in generosity. Give your time to Him, and He will give it back to you.

4. Live and (try to) learn

I’d love to be able to give you tips on how to avoid ever putting yourself in this situation again. But, reality check: I’m going to stretch myself too thin over and over again for the rest of my life. I feel like my husband and I do this two out of every three weeks, and we don’t even have kids yet!

But I have learned from my mistakes, in a way. The best thing you can do to (try to) avoid overbooking yourself again is this: when you finally get through the crazy time and have a few minutes to reflect on all that you have accomplished, ask yourself what was most worth it and what you’d rather skip next time.

For example, I might be glad I didn’t flake on my friend visiting from out of town, but next time I take on freelance work, I might raise my rate to make it worth it or set a better deadline for myself. 

Along those same lines, if you think you overcommitted, consider polite ways you might decline in the future. 

FOMO is real, but so, too, is burnout. Overbooked, stressful weeks are going to happen. But with these things in mind, you’ll be able to make the most of them. And then treat yourself to a weekend with nothing to do!

Grotto quote graphic about dealing with stress-filled weeks: "4 ways to reclaim control of a crazy busy week: 1. Take things one at a time. 2. Don't let your phone be the thing that kills you. 3. Make time for God. 4. Live and (try to) learn."

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