Here’s an excellent list of things to do/change/look at if you’re having trouble keeping to your sleep schedule. They were originally written in response to my difficulties due to high stress, but they could be used to answer a number of related problems too, since most of them are just generally good advice!
Remember, sleep is an integral part of your lifestyle and your lifestyle is integral to your sleep. If the schedule you want isn’t working for you, it may be because of diet, exercise, or poor organizational skills. (If that last item sounds a little weird, remember that the task of adapting to a new schedule is absolutely an organizational task.)
These are from Kaspian, who graciously allowed me to reprint them. I agree completely with them all, and do most of them, and should do the ones I don’t.
Behold the wisdom!
1 – Sleep on time & sleep when tired. You’ll be much more able to handle all the things that need to get done if you’re not wasted. Something that might take you 30 minutes rested might take over an hour if you’re fried. [Ed. note: "on time and when tired" may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s not, especially once you’re adapted and your schedule tends to vary. I may have a nap scheduled between 2-3 p.m., and get tired at 2:15, but put my nap off until 3. Kaspian’s saying I should have slept at 2:15, and she’d be right.]
2 – Find ways to quiet your busy mind when it’s time to sleep. One trick I’ve used is to visualize putting each thought/idea in a box and setting it on a shelf, saying, “I can come back to this after I have slept if it’s important.” Another one I like is visualizing myself in an empty room, and as thoughts of a particular person pop up, I gently, but firmly invite him/her to leave, as if I’m saying good night to a late-night party guest. Sometimes I’ll go through all the people I’ve had contact with recently, but once I’m done, falling asleep is easy.
3 – Exercise is your friend. Even a brisk 20-minute walk can make you feel a lot better.
4 – Work with focus, and unwind fully when it’s time. Spend some of your work time working without distractions—no phone, no email, no internet browsing, etc. If you can keep coworkers from interrupting you for a stretch, even better. When you need a break, really take that break. Take a quick walk, go get a drink of water, do something completely non-work, or whatever. (Take a nap!)
5- Write stuff down. Trying to keep track of a dozen things by memory just occupies mental space and energy you could be using to work more effectively & efficiently. [Another Ed. note: I’ve been saying this for years! ;) ]
5b – Make a list of the things that need to get done. Break larger tasks into smaller chunks. For example, “Plant an apple tree in the front yard” might break down to: weed the spot where the tree will go, till the soil, add compost, go to the store & buy a tree, dig a hole, plant the tree. Today I weed, tomorrow I till & add compost, and the next day, I buy the tree, dig the hole, and plant it. The whole task might feel overwhelming, but each part is relatively small, reasonable, and doable.
6 – Take 10 minutes early in the day to prioritize and organize. From your list of things to do: • Which task is most important and urgent? Make sure significant chunks of it get done today. • Which task is important, but not urgent? Schedule a time to do it soon. • Which tasks are urgent, but not important? Can they be done in less than 20 minutes? If not, can you delegate or skip them? • Choose a time, and do all of your phone calls and email reading/responding in that hour/half-hour. If phone and email are a bigger part of your job, pick two time slots, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
6b – If many or most of your tasks feel urgent and important, than rank them in order of importance. Do the most important one first.
6c – If there are urgent and important tasks that you can make significant progress on in less than 20 minutes, do those early. That way they won’t be weighing on your mind all day.
These suggestions might not solve the problem of having ten billion things that need to get done right now, but they will probably make you more effective at plowing through the list and help you feel less stressed about the workload.
…And in case I failed to stress it enough, these are really all great ideas. I could have left a little note next to all of them saying, [Ed. note: YES! YES! YES!] but I thought ya’ll might find that annoying. ;)
Thanks again to Kaspian!
(I’ve decided that’s my new social affirmation. You know, like people use "Rock on!" and "Word up!" and "Hell Yeah!" and the rest of them? I’m adopting Nap on! What it lacks in leathercoated oomph, it makes up for in class, I think. ;)
(That, and I’ve been re-listening to Sailing The Seas Of Cheese lately, which always gets "Fish on!" in my head…er. Yeah.)