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Strategies for preparing for the day ahead

Ever wake up feeling so overwhelmed by what you need to accomplish in the day that you want to pull the covers over your head and say, “I just don’t know how to get all this done?” Days like this can be challenging for anyone, but they can be particularly difficult when you struggle with the symptoms of depression.

What’s important to remember, though, is that your #1 priority, at the moment, is taking the time you need to feel better. And if that means you get to only some of the “to-do’s” on your to-do list, then pat yourself on the back — job well done.

Remember, it’s all about starting small and building little by little, as you begin feeling better. Here are some strategies to help you meet the day’s challenges and make life a bit more manageable.

Having a game plan helps

It helps to make your game plan the night before. Take into consideration what you need to accomplish and set parameters like closing times or deadlines. If you need to get to the dry cleaners and pick the cat up from the vet after work, focus on which one closes first. You could save yourself a lot of aggravation — and possibly the cost of boarding your cat overnight.

Check your game plan occasionally throughout the day. And cross “must-do’s” off one at a time. It can be very empowering.

A recipe for getting things done

If you are facing a large project, try breaking it down into smaller parts. Jot down each step, kind of like the steps of a recipe. Check to be sure they’re in a logical sequence. Then tackle them one at a time.

So, for example, if you’re creating a “recipe” for cleaning the garage, your first step might read:

  1. Gather large garbage bags and boxes for throwing out everything that can be thrown out.
  2. Wheel any bikes out of garage to give yourself more room to work in.

You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to accomplish a task when you break it down into steps.

Don’t worry about making it perfect

Another step that may help you get things done and off your plate is simply to get over the idea that your solution has to be perfect. Say, for example, you’re trying to organize the family pictures, but you can’t decide on the best filing system. Pick one that seems “good enough” and get started. Taking action can give you a good feeling and, after all, you’re free to improve your plan as you go along.

It’s okay to say “no”

People sometimes worry about disappointing their family and friends. As a result, they may find themselves staggering under a list of obligations. Here’s a small tactic that can make a big difference: give yourself permission to say “no” occasionally.

If you’re asked to be in charge of snacks for your child’s soccer team, it’s perfectly alright to say, “I’m a little overcommitted right now. I’ll let you know when I have a bit more free time to help out.”

Think small
  • Break down big tasks into small, doable chunks
  • Divide your day into small sections and focus on one section at a time
  • If you say “yes” to every request, you will wind up with a very long day
  • Leave some free time for yourself at the end of the day
Remember to plan some “me” time

When you’re planning your day, be sure to schedule some time for yourself. And don’t fill your “me” time with tasks. This isn’t time for sorting the laundry or cleaning out the attic. It’s time for whatever you enjoy. You deserve it!

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