8 tips for taking back your life.

Ann’s been slammed at work. Actually, she’s always slammed at work, but these past few weeks have been increasingly worse. As a result, her relationship with her husband has been on the back-burner or actually off the stove, and while he tries to be patient, he’s been making noises about feeling ignored, about feeling frustrated with her constant workaholism. She tries to throw him a bone — dinner on Friday night, a short hike on a Sunday — but he knows and she knows it’s not enough. And even when they are together she’s irritable and anxious and not much fun to be with leading to snappy, stupid arguments in the car, at the restaurant.

And time for her — what’s that?

For many of us life is a non-stop juggling act — work, relationships, a pile-on of kids or elderly parents. You feel stretched, exhausted, always on the verge of burnout, periodically exploding. You’re not surfing your life, you’re drowning in it.

As demands build up, it’s easy to get tunnel-vision. You falsely believe that the problem is the situation — this week’s work demands, the kid’s jam-packed schedules, a  mountain that you just need to cross — but like the bear in that children’s song, there’s always another mountain to cross. Like most things in life, the real problem isn’t the situation but your reaction to it. You’re constantly in reactive mode rather than in a proactive mode. You’re always trying to put out the latest fire, deal with the squeakiest wheel, but the fire is never put out, the wheel never ever really gets greased.

It’s time to shift your approach. Here are some tips to help you regain control:

#1. Step back

To offset the tunnel-vision, to put everything in a more realistic perspective, you need to step back. Start by setting aside an hour on Sunday night and look ahead to the upcoming week. What’s likely to come up? What’s on your plate this week?

#2. Prioritize

Once in your in the middle of it all on Monday, things begin to blur; your anxiety causes to feel like everything is important. Take time on Sunday to fire up your rational brain and prioritize what’s coming up. Resist the feeling, the urge to say that everything is important. It’s not, though you may need to sort through and make hard choices. If it helps, talk it through with someone else.

#3. Delegate

If you’re a control freak, if you believe that you’re the only person who can do a good job, you have an ironclad recipe for burnout and resentment. It’s also likely old stuff fueled by your anxiety and a lack of trust. Time to break this pattern. Start slow, start with lower-priority stuff and hand things off — to coworkers, your partner. No, they may not do it the way you want, they may not do as good a job as you, but…too bad.