The Busy Girl’s Guide to the Ultimate Staycation

Ladies and gentlemen, you are talking to the queen of staycations; I never go anywhere and I never do anything interesting (except writing this blog, of course). Before you start pitying me though, I’ll let you in on a little secret: staycations save you time, money and aggravation and if done correctly can actually end up being incredibly healing.

So what is a staycation anyway? When I talk about taking one, I’m referring to any stretch of time during which you are free from any work-related responsibilities. This is not your average afternoon off, and it’s definitely not working from home. Instead, your staycation is your chance to restore and recharge in whatever way that means to you. It might be an opportunity to catch-up on household chores, personal projects, and tying up other loose ends. Or, it might involve ditching all obligations and doing whatever the $%?! you want.

Whatever your staycation style, I’ve brainstormed some options to help start things off right:

  • clean/organize a neglected drawer, closet or room in your home
  • organize family photos and/or home movies (here’s some tips for digital photos)
  • go for a long walk/hike/bike ride/rollerblade (and leave your cell phone at home!)
  • explore an unfamiliar part of your city, town or neighborhood
  • catch up on your sleep (it’s actually really important)
  • cook or bake your favorite dish, or a recipe you’ve been meaning to try
  • catch up on your reading (here are some simple ways how)
  • paint, doodle, draw or color
  • practice meditation, yoga or just deep breathing
  • call up an old friend you haven’t seen in a while (Facebook doesn’t count)
  • garden or clean your yard (one of my many hobbies)
  • make your own rock garden or terrarium
  • camp out in your own yard
  • practice yoga or pilates
  • spend an afternoon browsing your local library or bookstore (take a buddy!)
  • try a new hobby on for size
  • volunteer
  • make something for your home, or for a friend who deserves something special
  • send a friend or relative some actual snail mail
  • attend a free show or event in your area
  • practice self-care: get a massage, manicure, pedicure or facial
  • research your family tree
  • decorate your reading nook/sanctuary/man cave
  • actually play with your pets (or children)
  • rediscover childhood activities like skipping, sidewalk chalk, or Frisbee
  • have a bubble bath
  • coordinate a new exercise routine
  • teach yourself the latest dance craze, or come up with a routine with some friends
  • practice the art of doing nothing.

Happy staycation!

I want to hear all about your staycation rituals. Share them below or email them to me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. For more ways to kill time, check out my suggestions for when you’re stuck inside here and here.

Filling Up Your Summer Bucket List

KBB_along_the_shoreAaah, summer! How I love thee. Yet, you and I (like so many other people and things that I love) have a complicated relationship. You arrive very late here in Canada. You’re not always that warm. And somehow every year I get so caught up in your splendor, so overwhelmed by the sun and sand and all of the people along the shore, that by the time I pause to take it all in it’s over, and all of the hopes and dreams that I harbored over the winter months have been dashed before I’ve even had a chance to remember what I wanted to do in the first place.

I’m not a big goal-maker, but what I do love is making lists: this year, I’m making a summer bucket list with only the super-fun awesome things that I want to get up this summer. No nasty to-dos allowed! If you want to follow along, your only homework is to enjoy yourself. Take time to relax. Do something that you’ve been putting off, or something that scares you. You don’t even have to take time off or travel to a new place or spend any money or anything. The only rule about filling your bucket list is just that- they have to be things that fill you up with joy, or are fulfilling to your soul.

Here are some of mine so far:

  1. Read, read, read. But that’s a given.
  2. Make the perfect ice cream sandwich. I figure that I’ve already made an ice cream cake; putting ice cream between two cookies can’t be that hard.
  3. Spend one day doing nothing. Seriously. I am a slave to my lists and my type-A habits; it’s hard to remember the last time I didn’t have my day super-scheduled, or the last time I did something truly spontaneous. Or not. I could just spend the day in my pajamas (which for me is practically unheard of!)
  4. Go for a picnic with my sister. There’s one particular spot that I’d love to take her too, and I experienced some health issues last summer that unfortunately caused me to spend a great deal of time indoors. I crave fresh air and sunshine, and I love spending time with my sister.
  5. Wear shorts. This is a weird one, because I have an irrational fear of shorts. Maybe it’s because every year without fail someone comments on my translucent legs. Also, how do you know when your shorts are too short? Where is the line (or in this case, the hem) drawn?

Even if you don’t complete everything you’d like to do on your summer bucket list, it’s a great exercise for the over-worked and the over-stressed to plan ahead for relaxation time. Working through big projects, figuring out tough situations, and pulling long hours all seem easier and worthwhile when we set aside actual quality time for ourselves (no chores or errands please!), and the act of writing down the ways in which you would like to spend your spare time is like a stepping stone to building a life for yourself that’s happier and more fulfilled.

Yes, I’m trying to get you to make another list. You know you want to.

KBwB-BFlower-50I’ve shared mine- now you share yours! Email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com, tweet me, send me a picture on Instagram or comment below and tell me what your plans are for the summer. If all else fails, I’m afraid we’ll have to resort to using a carrier pigeon. Or an owl.

More Thoughts on Procrastination

KBB_reading_nookA little while back I wrote about some of the ways in which procrastination is a healthy device that allows us a little more insight as to how we work, why we work the way we do and some of the ways we an embrace procrastination as a natural part of the workflow process. Intrigued? Don’t wait until later to read it. (You can find it here.)

As much as I believe in the potential for procrastination as a useful tool to work smarter instead of harder, there is a fine line between embracing the practice and being overwhelmed by it. When a procrastination habit becomes harmful, it’s probably time to reconsider the reasons behind it and develop new strategies to make sure we meet our deadlines on time, while still on our terms.

There’s no scientific method to my strategy to combat procrastination, but the solutions I’ve found seem to fall into three categories.

Determining the Problem

A doctor can provide relief for certain symptoms; however, he or she cannot treat you until the root cause of the illness has been determined. In a similar fashion, until you determine why it is that you’re procrastinating on a certain task you cannot begin to find a true solution to your bad habit. You’re simply putting a band-aid over the problem. Do some real soul-searching to try and figure out why you’re doing this to yourself.

Are you suffering from a lack of motivation? Set goals, determine rewards and build patterns into your daily life that help you work towards the completion of your project.

Having trouble keeping focus? Shorten the blocks of time you plan to focus on a certain task. More often than not even committing to just ten minutes of performing a certain task can encourage us to focus on it longer. Still not working? Take notes on your energy levels and amount of focus throughout your day and adjust your schedule accordingly. Try saving the more difficult or complicated tasks that require the most of your attention during the times when your alertness is at its peak.

Deleting the Unnecessary

Often our schedules are overflowing with multiple commitments, social engagements and various other personal and professional activities. It’s easy to procrastinate when feeling overwhelmed or stressed so when yourself letting important things slide because of an overcrowded schedule, it may be time to decide what activities and commitments to delete. Can you get by on less shift at your part-time job? Can you get away with dropping an elective? Any commitments, whether they be personal, professional or academic should be dropped if they become toxic, harmful, unreasonably demanding, unnecessarily involved, not enjoyable, or unhelpful towards your goals. If certain tasks are getting out of hand, see how much work you are able to delegate to colleagues, co-workers and friends, even if the arrangement is only temporary. We all need breathing space.

Discipline thyself.

It’s easy to lose focus when there’s no focus to your schedule or work. Blocking off chunks of time and forcing yourself to commit that time to working on certain tasks may be the actual motivation to get things done. If work is ill-defined or poorly organized, it can be off-putting to try and follow a task through to completion, and sometimes even possible to start. Evaluating energy levels, eliminating distractions, and creating environments conducive to our own unique productivity needs are all great ways to enjoy work more, and dare I say make it easier?

If procrastination is a sickness then it’s one we all suffer from, but hopefully by gaining an understanding as to why we do it, we can gain more insight as how to prevent it but for now, hopefully we’ve found our prescription.

KBwB-Flower-50

Have you been procrastinating on commenting on this blog? Putting it off can be bad for you and your health. Share your strategies on how you got your life back on schedule by commenting below. Still too shy? I’ll keep your thoughts a secret if you send them to be at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.