10 ways you can make time to relax (especially when you're crazy busy) and still get through your To Do list

a.k.a. How to prioritise self care even in the midst of wedding season / summer holidays.

Now I know what you're thinking...

Relax, you say? that’s something to do when you’ve FINISHED your To Do list not when you’re in the midst of the mental-crazy-busy season OMG someone save me from this pile of work even though I love it really <cue borderline maniacal laugh> But it’s true. You can *always* make time to relax, even if it’s just for five minutes.  Earlier this summer I spent three weeks on a meditation retreat in Sweden and it’s something I do quite often. In fact, it’s how I came to start my own business in the first place more of which you can check out here.

The thing is, when it gets really super bloody busy the temptation is there to try and do everything at once. I've learned from more than one burnout in my life that this ain't the way my friend. You don't get anything done nearly to your satisfaction and end up feeling rubbish and like you've let everyone down, right?

Now, I don’t always leave the office for that long plus I can’t just pop onto a retreat every time something stresses me out or overwhelms me but I do have things that I do daily to help me relax so I I thought I’d share 10 ways I find time to relax even when I'm mega busy (especially when I look at my looming To Do list).

1. I remember that I am not a robot

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Whenever I say this to my clients you can practically see the relief and it’s something that comes up in conversation on my Gin and Magic YouTube channel too. We are not robots and yet we treat ourselves as such. We crave that connection with others to the point where we don’t want to put down the devices. We respond to emails at midnight because we are worried someone else will get the booking otherwise which sets a dangerous precedent for any working relationship we may have with that contact or client. It took me quite a while to really change this habit and I’m so much more productive as a result!

2. I remember that I am actually in control of my life

Ooh, this is a juicy one. For a long time I mistook serving my clients in the best way possible as forgetting about myself but now I prioritise taking care of myself along with serving my clients in the best way possible. If you take a look at my carefully time blocked colour-coded calendar you’ll see that I manage my schedule meticulously. Whenever I get booked for a talk or attend an event I always block our time afterwards because I’m an extroverted introvert who needs to regain energy after being around a lot of people. See also point 1 - I am not a robot and therefore need time to recuperate and catch up.

3. I delegate / postpone

I work with a few select contractors to delegate work to that I cannot / do not want to do and it’s been absolutely brilliant relinquishing control and outsourcing work in this way. Do I want to spend hours internally shrieking at a computer because the code won’t work or do I send it to one of my web developer associates? I know which one sounds most relaxing.

If it’s not urgent and it won’t harm your business not to do something right this minute, then block put some time in your calendar to take action this time next week instead. (Just don’t delay until the end of time because there is literally zero point in cluttering your To Do list with tasks you’re actually never going to do)

4. I drink more water and eat fresh food

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I know I know, this may feel as obvious as Queer Eye's Antoni making guacamole, but let me state this first: I bloody love junk food and booze. It’s delicious. I’m never going to choose a green juice over a pint of beer believing it tastes better. We all read about how drinking more water and eating better is good for us but I’ve been edging into it recently because dramatic changes in habits don’t last for me. So I have little reminders to make me drink more water, I have a FitBit that vibrates if I don’t get up from my desk in an hour and I try to eat at least one completely fresh food meal every day. I feel better for it, and I’m much more relaxed as a result because the highs and lows energy-wise of the junk food I love so dearly don’t serve me (I’ve also noticed this has got a lot worse since coming into the second half of my thirties?! Just me?).

5. I have hobbies not related to my work

A lovely industry friend said to me last year “What do you do in your spare time when you’re your hobby becomes your business?” and it got me thinking. I work a lot because I love it. But I am not a two dimensional person and my guess is you aren’t either. My friends, going to see shows and musicals, going for big walks are all needed so I can relax and stay refreshed. I love makeup and pampering and so I have started to do makeup for friends going to special events. I adore films so I’m now a member of a retro cinema here in London, and have scheduled in a few movies to go and see already. By making time for actual hobbies outside of work, then I can even schedule time to relax.

6. I go for a short walk

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I try to go for a walk every day, even if it’s just round the block. Working from home makes this more challenging. But particularly if I get stuck or have no idea how to respond to an email, I’ll leave the house. It’s not procrastination, so therefore I do not have to berate myself about it. It helps!

7. I book a massage

Oh, self care how I love thee. I store all the memes on instagram but actually now have a monthly reminder in my task management app to book in a massage and allow the budget for it.

8. I keep my computer closed

The worst thing I can do sometimes is to open my computers / check my phone when I am feeling absolutely snowed under. So, I use a good old fashioned pen and paper to write out what I absolutely feel I need to do. I then mark next to each task – that day, that week, that month, sometime in the future. Then once I’ve done that, I feel oodles better and can open the computer and get stuck into the work.

9. I schedule

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, "I really don’t get how organising my calendar will support me to relax". But one of the things that I really have found to be useful is blocking out my time so that I can also schedule time out. This way I’m not taking time away from my desk stressing about my massive To Do list. I download my brain a lot whether on paper or in Asana, the task management system I use. Not everyone is an extreme scheduler like me I get it, but I wasn’t always like this, and it’s massively helped me.

10. I meditate

Of course, I was going to add this one in as I have a daily meditation practice I’ve been doing for 8 years with the Bright training and so with tonnes of free videos on YouTube I can just sit and watch one of these and relax as I am. I get so many comments from people who have been following me since the beginning and also those who have stalked me until the start of my Instagram feed that I have undergone quite the transformation and it’s not just my hair 😉

So there we have it, my top tips on how to relax even when it’s crazy busy. I’d love to know, did these tips help you?

Maddy x

P.S. If you’re feeling mega stressed about the biz and quite frankly you're a bit bored of feeling like that, check out my new free 12 minute video sharing my system of what separates the winners from the whingers here.