As I write this, I’m in the process of recovering from COVID. Catching the virus may have been a matter of dumb luck, despite the social distancing practices I’ve followed. However, I can’t help but wonder if my work habits lately have contributed to my falling ill.
This month has been nonstop with all my jobs. Just about every night has been a late one, with long days thrown into the mix. I’ve got my remote work and my roster of almost 30 guitar students. And on my weekends, I’ve been away shooting videos of weddings. For the cherry on top, I’ve been in the process of tracking a full-length album from home with one of the bands I play with. Needless to say, I’ve put myself through the wringer.
All of that has enabled me to better gauge what I can handle at once. I can proudly say I’ve done a pretty good job of getting all my work done. Unfortunately, pushing the limits has come at the cost of my health and sanity on occasion. On a positive note, though, I believe I now know how to set realistic expectations for myself and my clients.
Three Tips for Keeping a Reasonable Workload
1. Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself
We all want to make money and get the most work possible. But it’s vital to be realistic about our capabilities and time constraints. While I got my work done this month, I sometimes only managed to do it by the skin of my teeth.
Before committing to any new projects, I recommend that you look at your schedule and assess if you’ll be able to deliver the existing work on your plate on time and with a high level of quality. Really think hard about it before you pull the trigger on additional work. Clients will appreciate your honesty rather than receive rushed, sloppy, or late work.
2. Schedule Downtime for Yourself
There wasn’t one day this month when I could have a day to myself. The short moments of downtime I did have felt forced. They weren’t restorative or enjoyable because I was in constant fear of falling behind on projects during that time.
Heed my advice: Allow yourself time in every day to relax and have no worries. And strive to give yourself one free day in the week to do non-work-related activities that make you happy. Life shouldn’t center on squeezing work into every single day of your existence!
3. Listen to Your Body
No matter the project or job at hand, it’s not worth the expense of your mental and physical health. I’ve missed quite a few meals this month and haven’t been getting my usual amount of sleep. I think those factors and the heavy work stress knocked down my immune system’s ability to fight off COVID. I suspect my body punished me for not treating it with the love it deserves.
Your well-being is one of the most important things in your life. My advice to you is to plan your work properly, don’t overextend yourself, and take care of your body and mind. If you need to eat, take the time to eat. If you’re up late working and can’t keep your eyes open, get some sleep. And if you know a project will put you in a state of overwhelm, say “no” or commit to a due date that will be manageable for you.
When life is nonstop and accelerates at a break-neck pace, we can feel like we’re drowning in the work we take on. Setting realistic expectations helps make it a little more manageable. It’s hard to grow in your field if you don’t take care of yourself. A strong body needs a strong mind when the work piles on; I hope my tips will help you achieve that.
Your turn! How do you manage your way through busy work periods?