I don’t why the month of May is so special, but someone, in some research center, ought to get into it: every year, in May, everyone suddenly becomes super-productive, and my inbox suddenly gets filled with new projects from regular and new clients. I’m not complaining. You can’t really complain about more work, but I do wish that some of that increased demand would trickle into June, July and August, so that my life can get back to normal. But I know that won’t happen. July and August will see everyone hurrying to other places, places that do not demand my attention.
So naturally, I went online to see how to deal with the added stress.
One hour off
I’ll begin with the best advice on how to deal with stress that I’ve heard in a while. Write this down: for one whole hour every day, leave everything be. Close your laptop, silence your phone. Sit on the couch with a good book, and read. No special effects needed. Just set aside all distractions and focus on one thing for just one hour a day. It could be fiction or non-fiction – whichever you prefer. According to Jon Westenberg, who wrote an adorable post on the subject, that one hour makes him more focused and inspired for the rest of the day.
Clients are not children
We’ve all experienced the following: a big or medium-sized client calls us, and wants something down RIGHT NOW. He or she is even angry that it didn’t get done yesterday. This isn’t your fault. It’s not even your responsibility. But you find yourself telling the client: I promise you’ll have it in the next hour. Why do we make these promises? Because they’re easy to make. They pacify the client in an instant, and the drama is resolved. But the problem is still there. In fact, it has just begun. Because now you have to make time to keep that promise, time you’ve scheduled for other things, and instead of solving the problem, you’ve just created another one, just as pressing. Or, as Jason Fried put it: “Promises are like debt — they accrue interest. The longer you wait to fulfill them, the more they cost to pay off”. Think about it the next time, a second before you promise something; and maybe you’ll find another way to calm down the irate client.
Go to sleep
You’ve had dinner, watched a bit of TV, chatted for a while, even tidied the house, and before you know it, it’s late, and you’ve only got six hours of sleep left. Sounds familiar? It happens to me every night (except for the waking up part: my son is responsible for that part, and never misses a chance to rise and shine earlier than the sun). That’s exactly when a stress point is created. Follow this good piece of advice by personal trainer Jamie Logie: “Aim for the usual 7–8 hours a night but feel free to get some more if you’re feeling really run down or sick. This is when you need to heal and repair”.