I am what you might call a reluctant gardener. I love flowers but the work required to get them going in springtime sometimes feels like house work to me. I do the work reluctantly; knowing that down the road there will be a great reward. I think of the garden beds as Mother Nature’s works of art and I light up when I see her creations over the summer months. To help with weed management and to highlight the flowers, I like to put black mulch around the plants, to serve as a background.

I went to the garden centre early this spring, to get several bags of mulch and planned to get it into the gardens before too many weeds popped up. I got started early in the morning before the black flies were up and after emptying seven bags of the stuff I ran out of gas. I decided to stop and after a big glass of water, I had an epiphany. What was the rush? Why did I feel disappointed that I hadn’t finished the job?

I think it’s built in, this conditioned thought that we should have the job done yesterday, that we’re behind in our work so we must push harder, we need to go faster. Sure there was a time in my life when I would have pressed on and exhausted myself to feel that fleeting victory of having completed the task. But I’m not that person anymore: that was then; this is now.

A few days later I got up again before the mosquitoes and got the rest of the mulch down in the garden. I realized that it didn’t matter to anybody else how or when I got the task done; it only mattered to me and from that experience, I’m learning to ease up on myself and manage tasks in a way that doesn’t overwhelm me.

We are all just a little too hard on ourselves don’t you think? We’ve seen others doing the extraordinary and we naturally think we’re falling short but we’re all different and we should pace ourselves accordingly. Remember that you are important and you matter; your health and happiness are important and they matter too.

We all have some days that are busier than others and learning to handle them well is more about managing our energy than it is about managing our time. I’ve learned over the years that lists are my friend. Rather than go to the grocery store, trying to remember what I need, it’s much easier to write a list. This way I’m focused and with the odd impulse purchase I’m in and out without the feeling that I may have forgotten something, even though I do that too from time to time.

Perhaps you have company coming to stay or guests coming for dinner. Make a list of the tasks you know have to be taken care of and divide that list into manageable pieces, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. This way, you’re managing your energy and the event instead of the event managing you and your precious energy…especially in the middle of the night. It’s all on the list, you can go back to sleep.

I’m full of energy early in the day, so I like to make sure I do some of the things on my list early to celebrate getting them done and to allow for rest or other activities that bring me joy. Getting up early may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I do recommend tending to your to do list early in the day, when you have the energy to take care of it.

Give yourself a break. Make sure that while you’re attending to your to do list you pause now and then for a cup of tea or a glass of water and while you’re pausing, why not cross out the items on your to do list as you get them done. We’ll call it our done list. I’m all about celebration so make sure to give yourself a pat on the pack as you go through the list because you’re getting it done like a boss. You’re a boss who manages their energy well and appreciates good work. Good for you!

Be open to receiving support when you have a lot on the go. People are waiting to help us out; all we have to do is ask. It takes nothing away from us when we receive help; in fact it makes the person helping out feel good. So don’t be so proud that you can’t receive support when you need it. We are wired to be helpful, so feel comfortable and appreciate the kindness.

The last tip I want to offer is that it’s okay to say no when you have a lot going on. It’s responsible energy management to know when you have to put your needs ahead of doing favours for others. When someone asks you for something and you feel enthusiastic right away, go ahead but if you’re hesitant either politely decline or tell the person you’ll check the calendar and get back to them. This way, you’re creating space to consider carefully whether their request is something you have the energy for or want to participate in.

You can be sure that from time to time life will throw us curveballs and nobody wants to feel that their life is out of control. When things get hectic, being prepared by having a few healthy habits handy will make it easier for you to navigate and will support you in your quest to live well.

Tips for managing busy days:

– Make a To Do list and break it up into manageable pieces.

– Start working on your To Do list early in the day or well ahead of your event, so you don’t feel pressured.

– Take breaks and cross tasks off of the To Do list as you address them.

– Be willing to ask for and receive support. Many hands make for light work.

– Feel comfortable saying no when you have a full plate. It’s okay to put your needs first.

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