2. Prioritize: Identify the most urgent tasks. Start by figuring out what absolutely MUST get done in the short term to avoid total meltdown. For me, this included items like "write a lecture" so I don't show up to class unprepared. For you, it might mean writing an essay that is due tomorrow, or just showing up to work so you don't get fired.
3. Identify the tasks that you can drop. On every to-do lists there are a few things you want to do, but that don't absolutely have to get done. Maybe there's a meeting or event that sounds interesting, but it's not mandatory. Let yourself skip it this week so you have more time to get things back under control.
4. Urgent versus Important. Once you know the tasks that are urgent, and you've dropped off unnecessary tasks, you can begin to look at your to-do list and divide urgent versus important tasks. Urgent tasks are the ones that must get done NOW or there will be severe consequences. The Important tasks are those that have longer time horizons, but they're more important to your major life or academic goals.
5. Block out your time: Figure out when you're going to do the most urgent tasks, and start getting them off your list immediately. Power through those really urgent things as quickly as you can (without sacrificing quality). As you are able to cross off the 'urgent' tasks, then you can start moving back to the important tasks and devote more time to those things again.
6. Assess: In the end, there may be some damage control you have to do. As you go through these steps you might realize that there are some things that have been just plain screwed up. Start by talking to the appropriate people, then take appropriate damage control steps. Talk to your professors if you've dropped the ball in their class. They might advise you to drop the class, but it's better to know that now than to find out at the end of the semester that you are failing. Talk to your academic advisor and figure out where you have some wiggle room.
The other aspect of recovery is physical and emotional. We are not robots, and we don't function wholly off a to-do list. Often when we have set-backs, there is some physical and emotional fallout. We might feel guilty for slacking, or like a failure for missing a deadline. It takes emotional work to handle the hard stuff. That's where this part of recovery comes in.
1. Take a physical assessment. Does your body need rest? Are you recovering from a major illness, depressive episode, emotionally exhausting ordeal? If so, you might need to build extra time for sleep in to your life. Allow yourself to do this as much as you possibly can. If you're feeling anxiety, consider building in time for counseling. If your body feels fidgety, you may need to exercise. Giving yourself time to do these things will pay off in a big way. A few years back, when I was finishing my dissertation I had the worst anxiety of my life. Each day, as I would feel my heart begin to race, I would put on my running shoes and get out of the house. Making my body move as fast as my heart rate helped enormously, and I would come back ready to think and work.
2. Put words to your feelings. Identify what you're feeling, even if it's just "ughhhh." This reduces feelings of shame (unproductive and harmful), and increases your ability to cope.
3. Identify the story. Ask yourself, "what is the story I am telling myself about this situation?" It's important to identify the stories we tell ourselves, because sometimes those stories are restricting our choices in ways we don't even realize. You might be telling yourself a story like "I can't do this" or "I always screw up." Those stories aren't helpful, consider how they can be reframed. Which brings us to the next step:
4. Be kind to yourself. Ask yourself, "Am I treating myself the way I would treat a friend in this circumstance?" We are often much harder and less kind to ourselves than we would be to others. If you had a friend who was dealt a huge blow, we wouldn't criticize and tell them they were a failure. We would find ways to lift them up and help them.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready to start getting back on track this week. Here's my set of questions (to myself) for the week:
Did you remember to:
Get out there and crush it y'all.