How to Survive a Busy Week at Work

Are you sitting comfortably? Welcome to my series of podcasts that will help you to navigate some of the difficulties you might come up against when you’re a business owner. Today, I want to talk about how to survive a busy week at work. 

As a business owner, you probably feel like you’re busy all of the time, but every now and again, the busy-ness and the pressure goes up a notch. Whether you’re nearing a project deadline, you need to complete a big order, or something else comes along that adds to your workload, some weeks you can feel like you’re inside of a pressure cooker. 

The ‘freedom’ you thought you’d have when you became your own boss seems like a pipe dream when these busy times come along, and if you’re not careful, you can end up feeling overworked, burned out, and resentful. 

But rather than letting the busy times affect your health and overwhelm you too much, they can be managed by taking some practical steps. If you have a particularly busy week or weeks ahead, here’s how you can get through it.

Firstly, remember to take breaks. This might seem counterintuitive if you’re on a tight deadline, but sometimes, if you have your nose to the grindstone for too long, you can lose your focus, and your mind won’t feel as sharp.

Have you ever been sat in front of your computer staring at a blank page but as soon as you step way, do something else and come back to it, the ideas come?

A break refreshes you mentally and physically and helps you see things with fresh eyes. 

Breaks are so important, and this is precisely why you shouldn’t work seven days per week every week. When you’re a business owner, you might feel like it’s necessary for you to be there every minute that God sends, but this is not sustainable, not if you want good mental and physical health and a healthy work/life balance. Try to have at least one full day off so you come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to take on any challenges. 

Speaking of being refreshed, make sure you drink water throughout the day. Staying hydrated is so important for concentration and overall health in general. If you drink boatloads of caffeine to get you through the day, try to cut down, and for every coffee or tea you do have, have a glass of water to counteract the dehydrating effects. Drinking too much coffee can make you jittery and affect your sleep, not to mention giving you energy dips throughout the day, which is the last thing you want when you need to get through a particularly busy week. 

Eating well when you’re busy might be put on the back burner, but it will help you feel in top form. If you’re busy and stressed, your first reaction might be to reach for something sugary or fatty, and this might seem satisfying at first, but it won’t do anything for your energy levels or how you feel. If you know you will have a busy week, prepare some healthy meals or salads in advance. Keep some healthy snacks like fruit and nuts in your desk drawer so you can have them instead of making bad choices when cravings strike. 

Another thing to make sure you don’t neglect when you’re busy is exercise. You might not make it a priority when you’re busy, but it’s a great stress reliever. If you can’t make it to the gym or your usual exercise class, why not take a break and go for a walk at lunchtime? Book it in your diary like an appointment too, or it won’t happen. 

Unless you prioritise self-care and other things that are important to you, you’ll be on an endless treadmill of work, eat, sleep, repeat. 

All work and no play might be a sacrifice you have to make in the early days when you’re getting your business off the ground, but it shouldn’t be how things are indefinitely. 

Make time for things you enjoy, whether it’s meeting a friend for a coffee, reading a book, or watching your favourite film. You’ll find it easier to get through a tough week if you have things to look forward to, no matter how small.

And last but by no means least, make time for sleep. It’s tempting to take work home, but if you find yourself taking your laptop to bed, you need to get tough on yourself and set some boundaries, like not answering work emails after 8 pm, unless it’s a bona fide emergency. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be fatigued, you’ll have difficulty concentrating, and you’ll feel resentful; that last thing a busy business owner needs. 

So, they were some general tips about coping with a busy week. When you’re busy at work, particularly when you’re a business owner, you’ll most likely have to work long hours. You might not mind this in the short term if you enjoy what you do and there’s an end goal in mind. But working long hours constantly can lead to burnout, and it can also cause problems with your health and your personal relationships. 

You might think ‘well during busy times, I work a 16-hour day, and you’re telling me to get enough sleep, exercise, catch up with friends, and make time to prepare meals? Yeah, right!’ 

If that sounds like you, here are some good practical strategies you can use to keep yourself happy and healthy while you’re working extra-long days. 

  • If you don’t have time to meditate, try taking a few mindful breaths every time you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or when you visit the bathroom. 
  • If you can’t get to the gym, take the stairs as much as possible and take breaks away from your desk throughout the day. Go and speak to people rather than email them – it all adds up. 
  • If you don’t have time to prepare a meal, choose something simple to add nutritious ingredients to. Try adding salad and a healthy topping to a jacket potato. If you have to resort to a ready meal, choose the healthiest one you can find and bulk it out with a healthy salad. 
  • At home, having simple routines can minimise stress and bring some balance into your life, especially when you’re busy, like scheduling 30 minutes of interrupted time with your partner in the evening when the children have gone to bed. Speaking of children, making a checklist of what they need for school each day of the week, like a clean PE kit, can minimise the need for you to overthink and worry that you’ve forgotten something. There’s only so much space available in a busy business owner’s head, after all!
  • Come up with a mini-routine for yourself to take the stress out of your mornings. Lay your clothes out the night before, pack your lunch, and make sure you have what you need in your work bag. 

These are all practical tips, but you can apply them to the more fun side of life too. If you want to relax in the evening and not go to bed too late, do something other than falling into your usual routine of starting a boxset and watching one episode after another until before you know it, it’s gone midnight and your 8 hours of sleep has gone out of the window. Try reading or having a relaxing bath to wind down. 

It’s about choosing things that are going to make you feel good, but that create the least stress. So if you’re busy at work, it might be better for you to go out with a friend for a meal and a few drinks after work to catch up rather than inviting them over so you have the stress of cooking and entertaining. 

Hopefully, some of my tips on surviving a busy week will help you navigate busy times better. Often the key is planning well to get through these times with your mental and physical health intact. 

The good news is that some businesses will be able to plan for the busier times because they will be clearly defined, which will be the case if there’s a strong seasonal element to your business. 

So, what can you do to prepare yourself and your employees for the busiest times of the year? 

Well, you can strategically plan annual leave, so for example, if Christmas is your busiest time of the year and most employees will be working over Christmas, stagger leave in January and February. You’ll find that bouts of intense hard work and busy-ness are much more manageable if people have enough time to recover afterwards (including you!)

As well as ensuring everyone has adequate breaks, try and stay positive and do what you can to keep everyone calm and pressing on with the task in hand. The last thing a pressurised work environment needs is for everyone to lose their heads. 

This might be easier said than done if there’s so much work that people are at breaking point. If this is the case, seriously consider whether it’s worth hiring temporary help if you can afford it, until the busy period has passed. 

When the busy time is over, you might be tempted to sit back and think ‘wow, what just happened?’ but the best time to plan for your next busy period is right away. You’ll be able to see what worked well and what didn’t in case you need to fine tune anything before the next busy period comes along. It’s always better to feel prepared. 

Do you need help with business or employee issues?

I help company Directors just like you to feel confident in their team and content with the way their business and their team runs every day. My goal is to create a less frazzled life for you by offering you and your team mentoring and workshops tailored completely to your needs. 

Contact me at to find out how I can help you.

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