If you are like me and sometimes find yourself with too many things to juggle or feeling that your life is pulling you in one too many directions, you might find useful my top 9 lessons learned about getting back on course.
I typically know it is time to get back to this list when I wake up at the wee hours of the morning, my mind racing with unfinished business and commitments that had fallen through the cracks. At that moment, I feel like a woman caught in a whirlwind tornado spinning out of control but standing still.
On the outside I usually have things all together, running projects and getting things done while looking polished with outfit and stilettos to boot. I keep busy alright, balancing more than my fair share and yet I still have business initiatives that have stood still, commitments that are begging for my attention, books I have bought piling on my nightstand that I have not found the time to read and friends I have not seen for some time … In this situation, I feel anxious just thinking of all the things I want and need to do but that seem to fall through the cracks day after day, week after week.
When my life is out of balance, I know it is time for a change, time to seize my power. To do that, I turn to these 9 lessons.
Lesson 1 – Align your commitments to your goals: Look at all the commitments you have. List them out and then assess if they align with your goals. If they do not align with your goals, then consider delegating to someone else or drop them all together. Go through the list and prioritize the list. Some things will come up in priority and urgency while others will be more flexible. Factor only what can reasonably fit into your life at any one time. Some things will fit now others that will not fit at all.
Lesson 2 – Clear out the Clutter: It is hard to operate in a chaotic environment. Get your space organized so you can easily find your stuff. You will also be able to work with a clearer head when your space is not messy.
Lesson 3 – Stop Multitasking: If you attempt to multitask, you will only be partially engaged on any one thing you are doing and you will only be slowing yourself down. Our brain is not set up to multitask so while you think you are doing many things, you really are only switching your brains focus back and forth which could easily compromise your intended outcome. Instead, focus on the task at hand and get it done then go on to the next thing.
Lesson 4 – Block time for your most important commitments: Guard time for your most important commitments jealously and focus on one thing at a time. Use a schedule to stay on track. It will help you plan better and also help you to only commit to what you make time for. For example, most of my evenings, I block out a two hour window where I spend time with my daughter after school. That is her time when we play, we eat dinner, she gets her bath and we read bedtime stories. I minimize interruptions during this time and avoid doing any work if I can help it. I make sure I am fully present and engaged at those times.
Lesson 5 – Establish and clearly communicate your boundaries: This is something that gets easily overlooked. It could explain over commitments when you have difficulty saying no. Getting upset is your own way of telling yourself that some boundary issue might exist. You will need to establish boundaries with your loved ones, business partners and colleagues. For example, you might have a friend who constantly hugs your time on the phone to talk about things you don’t care about but you stay on the phone because you don’t want to hurt your friends feelings. You then find that the time this friend takes from your day, makes it hard for you to meet your commitments to your projects and to your family but you say nothing. This is a classic example of a boundary that has not been established. You will need to prioritize your interests and establish clear boundaries with your friend.
Lesson 6 – Distance yourself from Energy Vampires: These are the time wasters, the complainers, the haters, the gossips, the insecure people and the side liners who are not in the arena but have an opinion on how things should be done. One way or another, these energy suckers will slow you down and possibly freeze your progress. They can be relatives, friends, acquaintances, colleagues or complete strangers that come into your space only to criticize and put down your efforts. Do not for a moment give them your power. If they manage to get under your skin before you can cut them off, don’t let that distract you. Keep moving forward. The more you give these energy suckers your attention or time, the more they drain you; and they are capable of draining you dry. It will take a heavy dose of motivation to get yourself back up and sometimes even that recharge might not be enough so tune them out and don’t let them into your mental space. Also find a friend or mentor who is an Energy Vampire slayer, the kind that will pump you up and help you scare off these parasites, preventing them from infecting your progress.
Lesson 7– Take action even if it is imperfect action: Even while you go through sorting out your commitments and reorganizing your priorities, make sure you don’t stop taking action. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They are a very important step in getting to where you need to go. As long as you are moving in the right direction, even one step is progress.
Lesson 8– Educate yourself to improve in the areas where you need improvement: People often forget to asses things and make adjustments. When you have a clear focus and clear goals, it is not enough to take action, what is also very important is to constantly review your progress. Assess where things are and make adjustments. In order to make the correct adjustments you also need to constantly educate yourself in the areas where you are weakest or where you are least informed. I recommend reviewing your progress and areas for improvement weekly if possible so you can shift course if you need to. It is better to spend a little time learning than a lot of time heading in the wrong direction.
Lesson 9 – Forgive yourself for falling short. Don’t dwell. Just do better: If you find that you are falling short and possibly disappointing some people because you are not able to meet with all your commitments, first forgive yourself and then when you have sorted out your priorities, have a conversation with the relevant parties and be honest with them about where things are and what your next actions will be. Some next actions might even be to drop a commitment or to give up a role. Your honesty will be respected and appreciated by most.
Please share these Top 9 lessons with anyone you feel might need a little help to get back on course.