The workday doesn’t look much like it did fifty, twenty, or even ten years ago. For many of us, the 40-hour workweek seems like more of a vague suggestion than a hard guideline. The rise of company-issued smartphones means some offices expect their employees to pretty much always be on call, even if they aren’t willing to pay them accordingly for answering an email from their supervisor at 10 p.m. Outside of the traditional office setting, more and more people have no choice but to become part of the gig economy by driving for a ride-share company or performing independent contractor work. To deal with this new kind of economy, we’re going to have to find new ways to cope with all the demands life puts on us. Here are a couple of ideas for managing a busy life.
The Triage Model
Hospitals and other medical facilities typically operate under some sort of triage model. Triage means that the people with the most critical needs are seen to first, followed by the people with urgent but not life-threatening needs, and so on. That’s why it’s so common to get to the doctor’s office for a check-up and be told, “Sorry, but we’re running behind. The doctor had an emergency.” Most of us could benefit by using the triage model in our everyday life. When we get stressed out, think of the top three things that we have to do that day. Maybe it’s finishing a project at work or attending our daughter’s ballet recital. Once we’ve done those things, we need to give ourselves a break. It’s nice if we can go beyond the most critical needs, but as long as we do what must be done, we’re doing OK. Some days, just staying afloat is enough. We tend to think we have to be everything to everyone 100 percent of the time, but no one can live like that. It’s a sure route to burnout.
The triage model also means dropping things that aren’t essential, or least re-evaluating how they fit into our life. If we’re trying to manage a full-time job with school, maybe we need to change the way we go to school. Many students find getting an online continuing education at a place like Linfield College is more manageable than driving to a campus and sitting in a classroom a few hours a week.
Make Time Off Count
It’s the end of the work week and now you have at least 48 hours all to yourself. That’s great, but how will you relax after all the stress you’ve been dealing with? Many people have trouble turning off the part of their brain that deals with work and school and all that other stuff. Deep breathing exercises help some people calm down. Others need to head to a liquor store like Joe Canal’s in Lawrenceville, NJ, and ask for the best bottle of red wine on the shelf. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows your body down, and that’s quite helpful for some people as long as they don’t wake up the next morning with a hangover. Hangovers are pretty stressful in themselves. Of course, drink responsibly. The point is, it may take a little effort to get your mind and body in a place where you can relax. You may even feel guilty about relaxing, but you shouldn’t. Monday is going to happen regardless of whether or not you enjoy the weekend, so you might as well enjoy it.