Happy Wednesday! Is it just me or is Wednesday sometimes the hardest day of the week? Even though the weeks typically fly by, I still wake up on Wednesdays and feel like the rest of the week looms ahead. That’s a good description for how life feels sometimes. I marvel at how fast the year goes by, but at the same time, it sometimes feels like the year is an endless sea of work. Now don’t get me wrong. I love the work I do. This is the first time in my career that I can say I really love (most of) the tasks I do on a daily basis. But when I say daily I mean daily… sometimes it is seven days a week. It says a lot about my mindset this year that I haven’t updated this blog much. Not only that, but two of that small number have been posts about how to take care of yourself when you’re in a funk, or frustrated, or generally just feeling down. Yep, that’s how I’ve felt a lot this year and I hate it. So, I decided I needed to take active steps to fix my mindset. Now, before I get into what I’ve done, I want to say that if you have concerns about your mental health, you should definitely seek a professional. They’ll know how to give you the best support and care.
I knew that a lot of my frustration was due to certain stressors in my life and while I can’t necessarily change those stresses (or if I do, it’ll create a new set of “issues” that I’d be frustrated about), so I needed to make changes to my lifestyle that would leave me feeling less frustrated. Here are three things I’ve done to help create a positive mindset.
1 // Schedule at least one day off of work each week.
I do freelance work for churches and religious non-profits and I work on staff part-time for a church in the same field, so I usually have a pretty hefty workload. For a while, I had the mindset that I should keep working until the work is finished. The problem is, new things always come up. The work never stops. When I said I work daily, I mean daily. I was working seven days a week and on a few of those days I would work from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed (minus getting ready/a commute, of course). And that’s just not healthy. The only time I would take a day off is when I was so tired I literally couldn’t work anymore. That had to change. I started to schedule at least one day off each week and that has been so helpful for me. I know that I have a day that I can rest and relax, which has eliminated the “all I do is work” mindset I used to have. Sometimes I still put in really long days, but I take advantage of days that I feel more productive and I know I’ll be rewarded with more time off–including shorter workdays–other days.
2 // Stick to a Top 3.
Have you heard of the Top 3? The Top 3 tasks you need to get done that day? It’s supposed to help you create a reasonable to-do list, as long as you create a doable Top 3. (Writing 20,000 words in a day probably wouldn’t be achievable as one task in your Top 3.) At least, that’s my understanding of it.
Whatever it’s official purpose, I’ve been trying to stick to a Top 3 for YEARS. Like, I don’t even know how long I’ve been trying to do this. I’m the queen of unrealistic to-do lists, but I also felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. Over the summer I started to bullet journal again. Not the pretty, super detailed kind of a bullet journal; a simple and functional one. I don’t have anything against going all out and decorating a bullet journal. I think they’re so pretty! I just won’t create the spreads I need to create to use it if I plan to do that. I’ve settled into a certain layout for my weekly spread that allows me to see a master to-do list, but only gives me enough space to write in three things to do each day. When I finish the three and have more time, I can look over at my master to-do list and find something else to do, but I end each workday feeling accomplished that I actually crossed off my top 3 (and then some). I only use my bullet journal and Top 3 list for my personal/freelance tasks. I have a different system for the office.
3 // Read more.
One thing that would always come to mind when I felt overwhelmed and frustrated is: I don’t even have time to read anymore. So I intentionally started to carve reading time into my day. Sometimes it’s during a break once I’m home from the office and before I start doing freelance work. Sometimes it’s right before bed. Sometimes I need a chapter of a book to help get out of the bed in the morning. And sometimes it’s in the car when I get to a meeting early and have a few minutes, like in the photo above. (So much better than mindlessly scrolling through social media!) No matter when I do it, I feel so much better when I have some time to read each day. It makes me feel more centered and grounded. And more content.
Maybe you’re not a big reader. (😱) So find something else that you love, something that makes you happy, and something that you often think you don’t have time for. Intentionally create space in your life for whatever it is. It’s totally worth one less scroll through Instagram or one less episode of TV watched to fit it in. I promise.
What are some of the things you do to create a positive mindset? I’d love to know!