This post originally appeared on The Daily Muse.
Sometimes, insanely busy weeks or months at work come out of nowhere—your boss leaves, for example, or you get a brand new client.
But others, you know exactly when things are about to get crazy. The week leading up to a board meeting. The month before a major fundraising event. Your annual summer recruiting trip.
For those times, it’s easy to look down the calendar and feel dread. You know you’re not going to sleep, see your friends, or do laundry for a good several weeks. You know you’ll be run ragged. You know that you’ll have to apologize to the co-workers and friends you’ll inevitably ignore because you’re just so dang busy.
Well, I’ve been there, and I’m here to tell you—there’s a better way. Instead of resigning yourself to a month or so of total and utter chaos, here are a few things you can do ahead of time to soften the blow.
1. Outsource Everything You Can
Ever wondered how the busiest people in the world—C.E.O.s, executives, movie stars, and the like—keep their lives together? Answer: They outsource to their entourage of drivers, chefs, and personal assistants.
Even without the seven-figure paycheck, you can do this on a smaller but equally effective scale. A couple of weeks before things are about to get nuts, order a bunch of frozen (but gourmet!) meals from DCuisine, or sign up for a meal delivery service like Blue Apron or HelloFresh, so you won’t have to cook or food shop. Look for a laundry service in your area (ideally, one that picks up and delivers). Sign up for TaskRabbit, so if you need someone to run an errand for you, you’ll be set. And make sure all of your bills are on auto-pay. Basically, make life easy as possible for your soon-to-be-slammed self.
Same goes for work assignments. Is there anything you can take off of your plate for the next few weeks? If not, consider a work swap: See if a co-worker can pull together your weekly report for you during your hell week in exchange for taking something off of her plate next time she’s slammed.