Demanding baby

Six months or so ago, my life turned a corner. Here I was thinking I’m a busy person, but with the birth of my baby daughter, life is suddenly a whole different ball game.

Not only am I completely time starved, I find it is also difficult to plan around the unpredictable behaviour of a baby – when she screams you just have to drop everything instantly!

This begs the question – How can we cope with a demanding life?

Here’s my list of 15 tips.

1. Reflect on what’s important

I find we are taking on more than our parents ever did. We’re just having busier lives. In today’s world, between working, socialising, exercising and parenting, where’s the time for relaxation? For many of us, I suspect we’ve operated in auto-pilot for so long, we don’t even know if what we’re doing is congruent to our values and goals in life. My advice is to take some time and reflect on what’s truly important in your life then structure your schedule accordingly so you can focus on the right things.

2. Be the master of your own destiny

This is your life. Remember, you can be happy if you choose to and our limitations are mostly self imposed. If there is an aspect of your life which you are unhappy with, then you owe it to yourself to change and make a difference. Unless there are external factors involved, your life won’t get significantly better unless you do something about it. Take charge and be the master of your own destiny. Too stressful at work? Take on less responsibility. Delegate some tasks. Quit. Anything – just take action.

3. Simplify where possible

Human needs are fundamentally basic. From a physical perspective, all we need is food, clothing and shelter. Our emotional needs are more complex, but as long as we’re happy, everything else is just bonus. Take a moment to look at your life, what you have and what you do. You might find that maybe there are aspects to your life and routine which add to your stress but aren’t really essential to your well being. Eliminate these where possible.

4. Learn to cope with stress

Sometimes, things can’t be further simplified. Instead of making our lives less stressful, we can improve our stress coping abilities. Some people read a novel or practice yoga, whilst others spend hours at the golf course or take time out to go on holidays and recharge. Whatever suits your fancy, but do spend the time to de-stress. It is not healthy to operate constantly under high levels of stress.

5. Talk to yourself

Talking to yourself is a powerful tool everyone should have in their personal development arsenal. I find it is useful for so many things and in all sorts of situations. When I’m faced with a stressful situation, talking to myself gets me calm so I can focus on the task at hand. When I’m unsure of what to do, I reflect on what it is I’m trying to accomplish and walk myself through the steps to get things done. When I’m distracted, talking to myself allows me to regain focus and apply the Diminishing Distractions technique. What you do and how you react, is determined by what you say to yourself. So make a habit to say the right things, to help ensure the right results.

6. Talk to others

When life feels too demanding and stressful, find someone you can confide in. Talk about your fears and problems. Don’t keep things bottled up inside. It’s easier to let steam out a little at a time than to wait until the pressure is so strong that you explode! Remember, you don’t have to live life alone. Talk to others – family or friends – and get their emotional support. Not only can they be a good sounding board, but you might find they can offer solutions to your troubles which you haven’t thought of before.

7. Leave work at work

Many people I know don’t stop working when work stops. They take work home or work overtime and get home late. I find one of the most useful tools one can have to cope with a demanding lifestyle is having boundaries. Leave work at work. Make sure the planning provides sufficient time to get things done without breaking your back. It’s ok once in awhile to bring work home, but don’t do it consistently. Learn to draw boundaries and allocate suitable time boxes to spend on things. This applies to everything and not just work.

8. Remove the clutter

I happen to like working with a clean desk and spacious surroundings. I feel less cramped and my brain has room for creative freedom. Not everyone works the same way of course. I have friends whose desks are literally filled with so much paper, you can’t even see the colour of the wood underneath. However, if you have an overly demanding lifestyle, try to remove the clutter. Make sure things are filed in the appropriate places, so that when you’re working on one thing you only have the material related to what you’re working on within arm’s reach. Everything else is a distraction and shouldn’t be easily accessible until you’re ready to work on them. If you work in a chaotic environment, you’re going to live a chaotic life. So clean things up. Get organised.

9. Write things down

If you’re a follower of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology, you’d know the importance of writing things down. He believes that if you have too many things in your head, you’d inevitable forget something and they don’t get done. I echo the same sentiments with the addition that if you have too many things in your head, your stress levels tend to be higher. For example, imagine you’re at work and you’re trying not to forget to call the plumber to fix the leaks at home. Or when you’re at the park playing with your children and you’re thinking about the big meeting on Monday. Life feels a lot more complicated, doesn’t it? So, if you haven’t got a task list, start making one. Write things down and free your brain to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

10. Finish things off

Whether you’re a busy professional, a college student or stay at home parent, at any one time you probably juggle several things simultaneously. Whilst multi-tasking is a good skill to have, try not to handle too many things at the same time. Instead, make a point to finish things off. I find that whenever I have unfinished tasks, part of my brain is always working on them, even though it may only be at the sub-conscious level. You may not realise it, but these unfinished tasks contribute to your resting stress level. So try to get things done and closed off, instead of leaving them partially done and occupying precious brain cycles.

11. Learn to say ‘No’

If you find yourself being overwhelmed with the pressures of your current commitments, learn to say ‘No’ to new commitments. Saying ‘No’ isn’t an admission of weakness or reflection on your ability to cope with the pressures of life. It just means, that for now, you don’t have sufficient bandwidth to take on new things. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s better to give your existing commitments the time they deserve and do a proper job rather than take on too much and do things poorly.

12. Ask for help if you need it

The smartest thing you can do when you feel like you’re overwhelmed and can’t fulfill your commitments is to ask for help. Many people are afraid to ask for help. To them, asking for help is a sign of failure or inability to get things done. To me it is the complete opposite. Asking for help shows maturity and highlights a person’s desire to do a good job. I’d rather work with someone who knows when to ask for help, than someone who works crazily, to the detriment of the project and their health.

13. Accept that life is a series of ups and downs

I don’t know what the proper name for it is, but there are people who observe their health on a daily basis. Every time something unusual happens, they think it’s a terminal medical condition! Similarly, I find there are people who take life just a bit too seriously and are adversely affected emotionally whenever something bad happens. My advice is to take life a little less seriously. There will always be ups and downs. Don’t get too stressed out. This is just life.

14. Adopt a positive outlook and approach to life

It won’t change the reality of your present situation, but it will change your perception of it. You can choose to either look at the obstacles life presents as problems or you can look at them as opportunities. Though it won’t relieve you from your daily pressures, adopting a positive outlook will affect how you approach life’s challenges for positive gain. Remember that life is a journey to be enjoyed. Start now and change the way you look at life.

15. Have faith in yourself

The last tip I have to help with coping with a demanding life is to have faith in yourself. I’ve always believed that the human spirit is our greatest strength. Only when faced with the most difficult situations, challenges and danger do we learn and grow. Believe in yourself! Persevere. If life is tough, then be tougher. You’d be surprised by how amazing you can be if you give yourself a chance.

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25 Responses to “15 Tips to Cope with a Demanding Life”

  1. Tim says:

    As usual, you’re right on the money Dave!

    In and of themselves, these tips aren’t mind blowing, never-before-heard realizations, but the way in which you put them and the combination in which you use them make their messages, and the message of this entire post as a whole, very accessible to your readers.

    Well, this one anyway. Good job Dave!

  2. Things to Teach » Great Tips for Parents says:

    [...] Dave Cheong has just written his list of 15 Tips to Cope with a Demanding Life. Dave’s a new parent and has discoverd as we all have, that life gets even more demanding (and rewardning) when children enter our lives. His list is spot on and worth a look if even as a refresher. [...]

  3. 15 Tips to Cope with a Demanding Life « IMMORTALIZATION says:

    [...] Read the full article at Dave Cheong’s site under 15 Tips to Cope with a Demanding Life Filed under: How to, Article, Success, Self Development, Career, Personal Development   |   [...]

  4. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for the vote! I’m glad the hear the post has struck a chord with you. I agree that I’m not inventing anything new here – but the combination of tips make the whole thing more effective.

    cheers,

    dave

  5. Robert Hunt says:

    Your right on the money here. Very good advice, keep up the great post.

  6. bankr says:

    These tips are very good. Thank you for reminding.

    Greetings from Russia,

    bankr

  7. AjiNIMC says:

    Be more energetic and focused. We try to think too much, do documentations. I help when they are over burdened with tasks. It is not the tasks which creates these worries but the worries about the tasks creating more worries.

    Best way (that works for me), write down all task, prioritize, do the simpler ones to reduce the total work log and then take one at a time. Life is simple we ourself make it complex.

  8. Pamela says:

    Living a demanding life is really hard to cope up. But with the tips you’ve posted, it will be a lot easier to live. Of coarse there are some who are able to manage their busy lives. They probably have their own easy way of living their lives.

  9. Andrés Navarro says:

    Very interesting, i am a reader of your blog, i have to cope my demaning life and you give me a very good tips, excelent.

    Muy interesante, soy un lector de tu blog, i he enfrentado la vida demandante y tu me has dado muy buenos tips, excelente.

    Greeting from Monterrey, México.

  10. Mark’s Daily Apple » Blog Archive » Reduce Stress, Like, Yesterday says:

    [...] 15 Tips to Cope with a Demanding Life [...]

  11. alina says:

    hi dave

    thank you for your tips, i read them when i feel blue,
    i would really love to practice them but at the moment my lazyness don’t give me any chance
    i’ll try back later :-)

    hugs

    ali

  12. Rajesh says:

    I’m desperately waiting for your next post……

  13. tangey says:

    Do you want to be a dad? With your schedule, I won’t even consider trying to reproduce (pass on your genes) and have to deal with an infant. It’s not like there aren’t enough people in this world already, correct…?

    I still don’t understand why having children makes people happy…(ponders this for two hours and still not coming up with a good inference)

  14. berto says:

    Hello, these are great tips. Could you put a print stylesheet so users can print these tips? Thanks in advance! keep up the good work!

  15. Dave Cheong says:

    Hi all,

    I’ve been neglecting this blog again and I just want to say to everyone who’s left a comment here that I appreciate the encouragement and positive feedback.

    As always, I’m humbled when people tell me they have found my posts to be valuable in their lives.

    So please keep reading and feel free to drop a comment anytime.

    dave

  16. Dave Cheong says:

    tangey,

    I think choosing to be a parent is not something anyone should do without some serious thought. There are a whole bunch of reasons for doing so, and although I have to sacrifice my time as a result, I don’t regret it for an instant.

    dave

  17. Dave Cheong says:

    berto,

    Sorry for the late reply — I shall allocate some time to work on a print stylesheet as soon as I get a chance.

    dave

  18. Andrew says:

    @tangey – “I still don’t understand why having children makes people happy…”

    Become a Dad, then you’ll know.

    @Dave -
    Great blog Dave, well done. I’m in a similar boat – developer trying to switch to mISV, running a busy life and marriage and have a two year old daughter with another on the way. Your writing strikes a major cord with me. Subscribed!

  19. Dave Cheong says:

    Andrew,

    Thanks for the vote! Good luck in your ventures and personal life. Hope the impending fatherhood second time round is just as rewarding. :)

    dave

  20. Charles B Omoyeni says:

    Dave,
    I totally find your write up very stimulating and inspiring.I’m in a dire staits now.My business collapsed and there are a lot of debts hanging on my neck.
    The strong mental attitude that have adopted thus far is ebbing out.
    How do i cope?

  21. Bootstrapper » The GTD Resource Motherload: 100+ Links says:

    [...] 42. 15 Tips to Cope with a Demanding Life: GTD principles like taking charge of your own personal development and simplifying tasks are found in this valuable list of 15 “tips to cope with a demanding life.” [...]

  22. Gid says:

    Hi Dave,

    I wish I would have your tips or otherwise used them a long time ago.

    I acted in my life in a totally reversed way.
    The outcome is a depression and life which are full with sufferings and pain.

    Your tips are so clever and to the point that I have decided to openly write and strongly urge people to adhere to them in the hope that it will prevent them from reaching diffcult life situations.

    Would appreciate your response,

    Thank you for helping people,

    Gid

  23. nuru says:

    i am very happy with ur advice,it is very good

  24. Doug says:

    like the other posts I go back and refer to your suggestions on occasion…alot of wisdom in your thoughts…thanks

  25. Richard Shelmerdine says:

    What a beautiful young daughter. Children really can teach you a lot about life without any words.

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