10 Ways to Take Your Busy Schedule From Overwhelming to Manageable

woman working from home eating lunch

Adobe Stock / lordn

Heather K Adams
Heather K Adams733
Content + Copy Writer
In response to executive quarantine requirements, more and more companies are transitioning to remote workforces. And the more COVID-19 cases in America that continue to rise, the more important it is for individuals in essential professions continue to show up to work. 
But regardless of whether we're working from home or on the front lines of this pandemic, the pressure to "lean into work" is still very real for many women.

Overworking or overextension are among many of the sacrifices women are forced to make in the wake of this new reality. But there is a way to deal with your busy schedule that doesn't involve compromising your mental health.

1. Get organized.

Organizational apps are friends. To-do lists are best friends. Whether you make your list out weekly or daily, whether you write it down on a piece of paper or use one of those handy dandy apps, having all of your tasks organized in one place will keep you sorted. 

2. Stay organized.

Yes, the to-do list is good, but only if you remember to make it and use it. Building the habit of creating and consulting lists, of prioritizing tasks and putting all your helpful and efficient systems in place will put you miles beyond where you'd be otherwise.

3. Work closely with your team.

Learn to delegate, and unlearn micromanaging. Teamwork makes the dream work, after all. Be it at work, at home or in your social life, remember to let yourself pass the buck every now and again.

4. Learn to be task-focused.

While at work, do your best to be at work. Don't let the weight of a busy schedule tie you down. Cultivate focusing on each task at hand and being fully present, rather than letting your to-do list run through your head on a loop.

5. Make your bed.

The key to staying productive is really feeling that momentum, and you can get that ball rolling even before you make your breakfast. Simply pulling up the blanket and smoothing it all out takes two minutes, plus you can do it with only one eye open while yawning. You'll start your day knowing you've already accomplished something. You might be surprised at the difference this makes as the day goes on.

6. Manage your mentality.

Breathe, relax, think big picture: Is the world going to end if you're five minutes late for work, or buy store-bought snacks for you child's soccer team, or forget to buy eggs? Indeed it is not. You're only human, and these things will happen. Go easy on yourself.

7. Schedule slow time.

Not just for you, but for everyone. If you're super busy, chances are everyone else in your home is as well. You could all benefit from a lazy weekend of movie marathoning, or a Wednesday afternoon "let's play hooky" picnic. Remember to make the time for something you love that always recharges you. It's worth it.

8. Digital detox.

Give your brain a break from all screens. A walk outside without your phone, dinner without the TV on, a hike without your smart watch. Even lunch away from your desk. Remember that there's a world beyond all those alert notifications, and give yourself time to enjoy it.

9. Work hard and recover with intent.

Getting enough sleep, eating well, having quality alone time: none of these things are indulgences. They are necessities. Unless you're in an actual war zone, you can make or take the time to see to your self-maintenance and self-care. No one conquers a to-do list like a woman who slept well and had a good breakfast.

10. Learn how to say no.

Each day, each week and each person can only see so many tasks accomplished. There's only so much time, and you are only capable of doing so much. It's not a sign of weakness to draw a line and refuse to take on any more. Rather, it's a sign of maturity and sensibility. Need help doing it? Keep reading.

What to say when you have a busy schedule

There's busy, and then there's swamped. The crucial difference is knowing how to decline an offer or invitation, to say no thanks, beg off... in other words, to be able to say no, the right way. Here are a few nice ways to do that, and to keep yourself from being overloaded.
  • I'd love to, but right now doesn't work for me.
  • I'd be happy to help you with that next week, when my schedule's more open.
  • That doesn't work for me right now.
  • I'm really wrapped up in ___ (work project/life event) right now. Why don't we try a later date?
  • No thank you.


How do I prepare for a busy day at work?

Do what you can to set yourself up for success, especially if you can do it the day before. Make sure to leave your desk clean and organized, with your to-do list already written. And then? Go home, relax, get some sleep. Being prepared and well rested are the best ways to tackle any busy schedule.

How can I balance a busy schedule?

Prioritizing your tasks, learning to say no and keeping a healthy perspective on what is, and isn't, important are essential to dealing with a busy schedule. One thing you should definitely remember to prioritize? Time for yourself, in which to rest, relax and recharge.

How can I manage a busy life?

Keep in mind your life won't always be this hectic. A busy job, starting a business, raising children... your life will indeed be crazy, for a while. Take the long view and try to appreciate something inside every hectic day. Beyond that, becoming a whiz at time management, prioritizing tasks and learning to delegate will all see you through this crazy era.

How can I manage a busy school schedule?

Calendars are every mother's friend. Because it's not just school, it's also school events, performances, practices, game days, teacher conferences. The list balloons at an unbelievable pace. Put it all on your calendar, in your phone and on your to-do list, and you'll nail it.

Final thought

Life picks up the pace, sometimes on all fronts. And the key to conquering any busy schedule (as well as being happy, and staying sane!) is getting yourself focused and organized. Everything after that will fall into place.

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Heather Adams is a writer, and on [email protected]