Getting Through a “Spectacularly Busy Time” Like a Champ

The parent of one of my chamber music students texted me the other day to say that her daughter would need to leave our next coaching early in order to get to her school music concert. She was so apologetic–she knows that the group has their own recital coming up, and that rehearsal time is precious. 

“I’m so sorry! There’s so much going on this month!” 

She didn’t need to apologize. We’re all feeling it.

I could list all of the things that I need to do over the next 4 weeks, but I don’t need to. I bet you have the same exact list. Between your own performances, deadlines, rehearsals, and your kids’ or your students’ various events, it’s hard to keep up! Everyone is in a rush to finish things up by the end of the school year. 

Added to the mix, of course, is the exam stress the students are under, the pressure we teachers are under to make sure the exams and the performances all go well, and the scheduling conflicts that inevitably come up making it impossible to get everyone in the same room at the same time.

It’s just the way it is. 

We somehow always manage to get through it in one piece, but it can feel pretty rough if you don’t enter into this kind of period with a few intentions set out.  


The end of the year can feel utterly exhausting.


It will be exhausting at times. That much I can guarantee. And I’m sure a few of us will be remembering back in the fall of 2020, when we were stuck at home with a bare-bones schedule. No group activities for us or the kids, no social obligations other than a Sunday morning Zoom with the family–for which sweatpants and bedhead were expected attire. 

Back then, as much as we missed our community, we breathed a sigh of relief to not be so busy all the time and promised. Promised that we would never go back to the way it had been pre-COVID. 


And here we are–JUNE. 


When your Google calendar is its own kind of rainbow.


The trick, I think, is to make sure that there are only 1 or 2 times a year when things are this jam-packed. Most likely, it’ll be December and May/June–When every arts organization, class, and program is constitutionally (or at least, institutionally) required to have a final shebang. 

This kind of schedule is certainly not sustainable 12 months a year, but if we can limit it to 2, and put a few behaviors and boundaries in place, I think we’re going to be fine. Just fine. 

And then it’ll be July, and it’s all just summer reading and popsicles, right?




Here are my top tips for getting through a
“Spectacularly Busy Month”: 


1. Find your inner stoic. 

Do you need to drive 7 different carpools on Monday? Fine. Drive the carpools. Don’t waste energy complaining about it. It’s not hard, it’s just annoying. Annoying won’t kill us. Keep breathing through it, and put one step in front of the other. 


2. Find a way to make those annoying things more enjoyable. 

Listen to a great playlist, an audiobook you’ve been meaning to read. Make or pick up your favorite coffee or kombucha for the ride. Rather than allowing these moments to drain you, do things that will generate more energy. Do a minute of stretching, or catch up with a good friend. 


3. Eliminate things that aren’t essential. 

This one can be tricky because it’s important to honor commitments you’ve made–especially if other people are counting on you in big ways. Is it essential that I make time for my clients? Yes. Is it essential that I post on Instagram every day? No. Is it essential that I play the concerts and rehearsals I said I would play? Yes. Is it essential that I go to the pub quiz every Sunday night with my team? No. They’ll manage without me–I’m still hopeless at 90’s British pop music, anyway. 


4. Train yourself to slow down and switch off whenever you’re able to. 

Even in the busiest period, there might be a 30-minute window, when you don’t actually need to be doing something. But we tend to stay in that adrenaline-fueled mode regardless. Cortisol pumping away, afraid to let our guard down. If you’ve ever found yourself pacing back and forth, wondering what it is you’re supposed to be doing, you know what I’m talking about. Even on your fullest days, there will be small breaks. Slow it down. Breathe. Drop your shoulders. It’s okay. 


5. Find gratitude in the fullness of your life. 

Instead of saying to everyone around you “I’m just sooooo busy!” See if you can switch it to “Yep, life is certainly full right now!” bonus points for a big knowing smile.  Be grateful that you were invited to take part in these events. Grateful that you get to see your kids exhibit their talents, or learn to punch stage fright in the nose and get out there. Grateful that you are able to give your students these important opportunities to show off their hard work, and grateful that another year is successfully drawing to a close. 


6. Be the reason it was fun for everyone. 

Everyone at the gig is feeling a little bit frazzled. All of the parents are desperately trying to keep up with everything. The kids are stressed out and want to do it all well and make us proud of them. If we show up grumbling and cracking around the edges, everyone suffers. But if you show up smiling, with store-bought cookies, (because who the hell has time to bake in June?), or encourage a Madonna sing-a-long in the carpool, you can single-handedly make it a fun experience for everyone around you—and most importantly, for yourself. 


7. Plan a reward for when you’ve crossed the last thing off your list. 

July 2nd I will be sleeping in. I will be playing in my garden for as long as I want, and I will be getting a 90-minute hot stone massage. The idea of Sunday, July 2nd is giving me the strength I need to get through the next 4 weeks. What is your ideal reward? A weekend getaway? a movie in a theater with popcorn and milk duds? A nice meal at your favorite restaurant? Plan it, and book it. 


Keep your eye on the prize


Good luck, my friends! And for those of you who are already through your very full end-of-year periods (I’m looking at you, Florida and Illinois people!) tell us how it is on the other side. 



P.S. If you’d like some help in gaining clarity around your life and career goals, I have a great (and free!) workbook that can guide you toward those answers. You can grab it here for free today.

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