The first part of overcoming any problem is admitting that you indeed have a problem. Thus, I begin today's post with a confession: I have deviated from my training plan. [insert women fainting] The irony is that I have done so while being good about riding regularly and going to the gym as just as planned. I am careful to insert rest days and easy weeks, and I even wear a HRM on nearly every ride.
So what's the problem?
Too much fussing about and not enough chilling the F-out. For the last couple months I've spent a lot of time and effort worrying about if I'm getting enough saddle time, if it's the right saddle time, what's the best bike to buy, what's the best way to set it up, etc. and I darn near gave myself a nervous breakdown. Constantly being distracted by the two wheeled demons, I've been profoundly inefficient at everything else in my life, running around in a semi-stressed state all day getting nothing done. You'd think that following the TDD training philosophy would have saved me from this fate, but sadly it has not, and it's taken four days of screwing off completely--from everything--to reset.
To quote myself: "When your cycling creates problems in your life it also creates problems in your cycling, and problems are the antithesis of simplicty." If there's something in your life that needs done and takes you off your riding schedule for a few days, get it done. The cognitive dissonance you carry around while you're putting it off to ride bikes is more draining than any hammer ride. You'll be far better off if you sort out the rest of your life and then get back on two wheels.
All this having been said, it's still important to keep up a regular training schedule--there's nothing more stressful than atrophy--and that means figuring out reliable low-impact ways to keep your fitness up in the face of limited time. Following the same logic that putting things off only stresses one out, I find getting rides out of the way in the morning leaves me calmer than if I plan to get them in at night after my other tasks. Weeks with limited ride time can also be a chance to work on intensity. Take advantage of mandatory recovery time by riding hard for shorter periods. You'll be doing workouts you need anyway, burning maximum calories and working off stress, as opposed to ruminating on the pile of other tasks you have awaiting your return from a 4-hour base ride.
Also, don't forget to sleep and relax adequately. Even the most perfectly orchestrated balance of work and riding will burn you out if that's all you do. Movies are awesome. Try one when you're not on a trainer. Even if half of your life requires you to sit in an office chair, the total amount of time that you need to be "on" generates fatigue. Try to orchestrate each day so that you have a set of reasonable, attainable goals for cycling and work, and when you've accomplished those goals GO DO SOMETHING ELSE. The surest way to burnout is trying to cram in more work (or riding) into every free moment. It won't be long until you've worked yourself up to running around in a flurry of nothing--going through the motions of being busy but not accomplishing anything.
In the immortal words of a riding buddy: "Recovery is pro."