Do you ever find yourself running through your mental check-lists while cooking?

So, I am in the kitchen preparing a heart-warming lentil curry for dinner, still in my work clothes, and deciding whether I should cook a pot of vegetable soup as well. I am in the kitchen right, I might as well. As I add the tinned lentils (what a time saver) and fresh coriander to the simmering stew, I wonder about the blog post that I still need to write for my new website; a journal paper that I still need to read for a paper I am working on; and memo to myself to check in on the kids homework. Of course, this is only one percent of the actual to-do list, right?

Does this feel familiar?

How then do we keep calm, focused and not burn dinner in the process? This is my 5 tips for keeping the ruffles at bay.

Tip 1: Check-in with yourself

Your goal here (and always) is peace of mind. Take a deep breath and think about what it is that you need to focus on right now, in this moment, in order to feel calm? What is the first thing that comes to mind? Do that.

Tip 2: Be self-aware

We forget that in the many roles and responsibilities we have as women, that taking action in one aspect of our life does not mean inaction in another area. It is simply applying your energy where it is needed in the present. Example: I am cooking a nutritious meal to contribute towards a healthy family lifestyle, feeding my self-care and family care goals. At this point, think about how what you are doing at the time is
contributing to a goal in one of the areas of your life?

Tip 3: Write it down

No, not another to do list. Think of it more as a, To Do Story. Before you wonder how is this any better when in fact it sounds like more work, let me explain.

Instead of using bullet points to list all the tasks, I write down how I feel about those tasks as well. This reflection allows me to deal with the emotional stressors linked to the task, and helps me to not only prioritize the tasks better but with more conviction and less guilt (where that is a factor). For all the list people out there, I copy the key points into a short-list, as now I have clarity.

Disclaimer: this does not work for simple to-do lists, but rather when deciding which to-do list in which area of your life you need to tackle first.

Tip 4: Locate the overwhelm

If you feel like your proverbial plate is full, then take a moment to identify the weightings of the metaphorical items on your plate. What is the full array of concerns you have? What is the impact of dealing or not dealing with these concerns?

Tip 5: Appreciate your energy

I have had those days where I try to get through as many items on my list and at the end of the day, realise that I only made it half-way. I have since discovered a hack where I picture a battery attached to me, with a power gauge. This helps me to be more aware of my fluctuating energy levels throughout the day or week, and be more forgiving when I don’t get it all done.

Once you have completed a task on your list, before you move on to the next one, take a moment, or two, to thank yourself. Sit down, have a cup of tea and say well-done! I can do this.

Have you tried any of these tips before? Or have any others to share?