Hope for your financial life and beyond

5 Coping Strategies For When the Busyness of Life Causes the Dam to Break

water causes an explosion at a dam

Water exploding through a dam

On Friday, I commented to my blogging friend Tonya at Budget and the Beach that I was not looking forward to the upcoming weekend. When I realized all the items that were on my to-do list, I sort of felt depressed. I could see there would be absolutely no down time.

After all, aren’t weekends supposed to be relaxing? Most of the time during the school year ours are not, especially during tax season (from Jan. – Apr.) when Mrs. Luke1428 works on Saturday. It feels like the weekends are jammed packed with everything that couldn’t get done Monday – Friday. They become more hectic for me than the actual workweek.

For some perspective, (and I’ll keep this brief) here is what happened in our house the last three days:

Friday after school, I came home and cleaned up the kitchen. We then got ready for our school’s yearly sports banquet that ran that evening from 6:00 – 9:00. After returning home, I was up until 12:30 a.m. doing blog related tasks and writing a guest post.

Saturday morning I hit the yard work. Trimming trees, doing a burn pile and mowing the yard lasted from 8:00 – 2:00. I missed the morning soccer games of my youngest two because I had to be home to monitor the burn pile. (In Georgia, outdoor burning is only allowed from October through April so this was the last weekend I had to get one done.)

After the outdoor work came indoor tasks: laundry, house cleaning, grocery shopping and outlining another guest blog post. That lasted until 6:00. From 6:30 – 8:30 it was dinner with my cousin and her boyfriend at a nice restaurant in town. Then it was back home, tuck the kids in bed and blog/write some more until 11:30.

Sunday brought the usual morning church activities. That was followed by a quick lunch, so we could get off to another soccer game for my daughter, which coincidentally ended in a driving rainstorm. Then it was home for more laundry and writing. Sunday evening youth group followed for my wife and daughter. For me it was making dinner for the remaining kids, walking the dog, and sending some emails. I did manage to talk with my wife for 30 minutes when she got back from youth group before staying up late again to write this post.

And there were several things on my to-do-list I simply couldn’t get to.

Do your weekends (or days in general) look anything like this? Does it ever feel like the water is breaking over the dam and you are powerless to stop it?

It can get very tiresome and discouraging dealing with the pace of life. When I get on edge about it, here are some things I remind myself of:

Realize it’s probably just a season of time. In our house, busyness comes and goes. There really are times when it’s not this hectic. Sometimes I forget that, thinking it’s always going to be this way. For us, my wife’s tax season is now over, soccer season will be winding down in a week and the school year will be ending soon. Not dealing with those three activities will free up significant amounts of time through the summer months.

Realize it’s my choices that brought it on. I have no one to blame but myself for the busyness. My choices resulted in the crazy weekend. I could have done a burn pile weeks ago but didn’t. We didn’t have to sign the kids up for soccer. I don’t have to run a blog.

We make choices everyday that move us backwards, keep us stagnant or propel us forward. We can always evaluate what we are doing and change the course we are on. If I want it to be less hectic then I need to take a look at my own choices and make adjustments where necessary. It’s nobody’s fault but my own and I need to own that responsibility.

Realize it’s not worth getting angry about. Frustration in our choices may set in but that emotion can’t lead to anger. Anger will only inflame the situation. The worst part is that it will most likely be directed at those closest to me – my family.

So I have to keep a level head and roll with the schedule without letting it get to me. If I can accomplish that, it opens me up to the next realization…

Realize that enjoyment can still be found in the busyness. All in all, it turned out to be a great weekend!

My daughter scored a goal at her soccer game.

The kids had an awesome time helping with the burn pile.

I finished writing three blog posts.

All the basic housework tasks were accomplished which is always a bonus.

I had time to spend with family and friends and worship at church on Sunday.

To top it all off, it was an absolutely gorgeous weekend for being outside and enjoying the sites and sounds of springtime.

All that brings me full circle to my final realization which is that…

Our busyness is not as negative as we sometimes make it out to be.

How do you cope when life gets extremely busy? Do you get frustrated for putting yourself in that predicament? Are your weekends crazy or more relaxed?

Image at Wikimedia Commons

Next Post: A Student Debate: Are There Absolute Truths About Money and Personal Finance?

Prior Post: The Crew At Modest Money Is Teaching Us A Big Lesson

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Comments

  1. A lot of my weekends (and weekdays) have been absolutely jam packed! Whenever I start to complain, though, I can’t help but acknowledge that a lot of the busyness in my life is caused by my choices. At that point, I learn to love the busyness because during the times when I do get a break – I can actually appreciate it!

  2. oh man as a CPA myself, I know that tax season is no joke. When things get super busy, especially during tax season, I go into survival mode.. Just get what needs to get done, done. Any non-necessessities just have to wait for another day,

    • Survival mode is pretty much what my wife is in by the first of April. I try to do everything around the house and manage the kids lives so she doesn’t have to worry about it. It’s a tough 4 month stretch for sure.

  3. Done by Forty says:

    When I get too busy, I usually look for something I can put on the back burner or just drop entirely. Something has to give, for better or worse, so I figure it’s best to just pick that thing (or five things) intentionally rather than letting my schedule arbitrarily determine what gets neglected.

    Sorry that things are hectic, but I like the way you put it: it’s a season in time.

    • I like that strategy. Something does have to give. I guess the only decision is do you let the activities play themselves out or do a preemptive strike and just drop them. Guess that depends on how long until the particular activity might be completed.

  4. Sher@KNSFinancial says:

    Aw man, this sounds all too familiar. I’ve been looking at “busyness” lately in a different context (when it comes to the needs of the church). I often marvel that with all our technological advancements that make other activities easier and quicker, we just manage to fill that time with other things. As you said, it’s based on our choices.

    • “…busyness [as it relates to]…the needs of the church.” Oh Sher…that’s another post in and of itself. This topic of busyness takes on a completely different angle when you consider what you should get involved with “in the name of the Lord.” I think both you and I would consider doing something for God a good thing. However, those good things can also pack a schedule and lead to the same frustrations that secular activities cause.

  5. That definitely happens to me from time to time, but like you said it comes and goes in cycles, and I usually just try to realize that. If it’s something that stays consistent I have to look at my goals and priorities and see if there is time I can free up. That’s why I ended up dropping Healthy, Fit, and Frugal even though I really enjoyed it. I needed to free up time for other priorities. Hope things calm down soon!

    • I’ve always felt bad when I can’t give a task better effort. I’ve been in situations before, juggling five or six different hats, and feeling like I’m only giving each hat 50% effort. It would be nice to limit tasks to 1 or 2 at a time and give each one 90-100% effort.

  6. My weekends are always very busy. By the time the weekend comes around I have a long list of things I want to accomplish. The weekend, as you know, are perfect for working on blog work and even better for working on house projects. Sometimes I get stubborn, too, and go really hard on Sunday night trying to accomplish the things that are still left on my list. My wife looked at me in shock/pity when I started vacuuming at 9pm last night “You’re vaccuming? at 9pm on Sunday?” She might have a point that I get a little out of hand with trying to be productive. The thing is, as you said, it’s all brought on by my own choices. Most of it right now is due to taking on a blog, which I could realistically sell if I wanted to. The thing is I like having my side hustle and when I suggest (jokingly) to my wife that I will sell the blog, she says “you’ll just end up finding another thing to do.” I think she’s right.

  7. Natalie @ Financegirl says:

    This is so helpful, Brian! I really have trouble not getting too busy. For me, your most helpful suggestion is remembering the season. If I’m super busy this weekend, knowing that next weekend will be relaxing helps me push through. Great post!

  8. moneybulldog says:

    I know this feeling but as much as I love having a break, to be honest it doesn’t take me long to get bored and start looking for things to do. I think some people are just wired to be busy people and I think I’m one of them. Yes I feel overwhelmed at times but as you say, it’s what I signed up for.

    • You make a really good point. Some people are wired in their personality to accept more busyness…it’s what drives and excites them. I’m on the fence as to whether I’m one of those people.

  9. Since I don’t normally work 5 days a week anymore, I rarely get overwhelmed like I used to. This time of year is especially busy, but you’re right. We don’t have to sign up for swim team or go to the dance recital. It’s our choice to do those things, and when we have a full day I always feel like we earned our keep so to say. This weekend, the weather was awful and we spent a whole day inside doing almost nothing, and I actually felt guilty for not making myself do more, even though I worked on writing posts and doing online work for a good three or four hours. I need to also be OK to not be busy and just hang out!

    • “…felt guilty for not making myself do more…” Haha…I’ve been there also Kim. Isn’t it funny that we also experience guilt at the other end of the busyness spectrum? We shouldn’t feel guilty for simply relaxing from time to time.

  10. Love the sentiment, Brian. Busyness has become a way of life for me. It seems like we’re going from one thing to another and overall I’m okay with it. Busyness at work means my business is growing and thriving and that’s good! Busyness at home means we are active in our community and school – and that’s good too! At the same time I have begun to prune some of the extra activities down. There was a period when I found myself running ragged and I wasn’t really sure what for. The enjoyment wasn’t there to take time away from my family. Like you said, it the choices we make. And I bet Kim is so glad tax season is officially over and she can take a breath again! 🙂

    • “…The enjoyment wasn’t there…” That’s the big clue right there Shannon, that you’ve crossed over the edge to being too busy. Even as difficult as this weekend was, most of it was still enjoyable. Especially watching my kids eyes light up at the 15 ft. flame from the burn pile. And yes, Kim is way glad to be done for another year. It’s amazing how busy those four months can be.

  11. You always manage to turn what could be a negative into a positive! I’m glad you were able to see that the weekend was still great, and you managed to accomplish quite a lot! It is difficult to look forward to a busy weekend when all you want to do is relax, but hopefully that means less craziness down the road. I find that choosing to be productive ends up being the better choice after all is said and done.

    • “…turn what could be a negative into a positive!” I really have to work at it…it doesn’t come naturally. But I do feel that life is too short to always live on the negative ledge.

  12. As you said it’s about the choices we make that will impact how our time will spent and I like how you mentioned the positives that came out of this hectic week-end. I tend to cram most of the life must-do’s during the week so that I can free up a bit more time on week-ends to relax and do things that I’d enjoy. This past week-end we spent the day in Central Park and at the Central Park Zoo and then went for dinner. One of our most relaxing week-ends yet!

    • That sounds like fun Kassandra…I love spending time outside. I really try to look for the silver lining…we can easily become so frustrated in the busyness that we miss all the positive things happening.

  13. John S @ Frugal Rules says:

    I used to get frustrated at myself for being in these kind of situations, but learned some time ago that, for the most part, they happen because of my choices and not to pass the buck. I’ve found that actually has lessened my stress level around it which allows me to get more done. So much of it comes down to perspective I think and if you allow it to get thrown off it can be easy to feel frustrated or resentful.

  14. It’s funny because last weekend we were jam packed with activities/work and I felt “off balance” all week; however, this weekend we did not have as much on our plates, and I was able to re-balance myself and I feel much better about Monday now that I have re-balanced myself. So, to answer your question, when life gets crazy, I try to open up time in my schedule with minimal crazy to balance it out.

  15. Nice spin on a busy weekend, Brian. Glass half full. Kudos to you because you really did accomplish a lot.

    Even if I’m busy, I so enjoy my weekends and wish they were longer so I can get more stuff done!

Trackbacks

  1. The Dance of Intimacy - iForeignAffairs says:

    […] and growth come in discovering your coping strategies. Learning new responses and behaviors. Ask yourself: How do I create space in my relationships? How […]

  2. […] from Luke 1428 gives some strategies to cope with the busyness of life. This is something we all need to read. Everyone I know has more things to do than hours in the […]

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