How to get started now.
How often do you think about and try to tackle too many “important” tasks, projects, or “to-dos” at once?
If you are like most people, including me, you still believe that being busy is better than being lazy, and spinning multiple plates like a clown in a circus will somehow earn you a gold star or that people will be impressed because of your ability to keep so many plates spinning.
Guess what? Nobody cares.
Really, that may sound harsh but it’s the truth. In our quest to be more, do more, and have more we scramble from idea to idea and half-assed project to half-assed project wondering why we feel so stressed out.
Tip number one: STOP and say NO.
Stop taking on more projects. Stop accepting the next invitation to Susie’s daughter’s, ex-boyfriend’s, nieces four-year-old’s, birthday party. Stop offering to lead the team for this year’s annual celebration. Let someone else step up. Think NMP—Not my problem. (My close friend likes to add an F to that—NMFP). Whatever motivates you as long as you practice saying NO!
Stop saying yes when you really want to say no. Honor yourself—your time and attention. Accept that people will actually admire and appreciate you more when you set and respect your own boundaries. More than the times you show up just because you don’t want to feel left out or feel like others will think less of you if you don’t.
Stop volunteering to bake cookies for the school fundraiser. Stop offering to help a friend of a friend move or paint their house when the paint on your own home is cracked and peeling.
Just. Say. NO!
Tip number two: Retreat—take two steps back before you take the first step forward.
What? You say. That’s the story of my life. Every time I feel like I am making progress — two steps forward—I end up taking three back. How can I ever get ahead if I keep that up? You’re right. And I’ll explain how to fix. that with tip number three. But right now. STOP forcing your will to succeed and take two steps back to regroup. To focus. To think.
The problems with pressing forward and forcing an issue and trying to do it are more than I can possibly outline in this short post. Let’s take a school paper for example or a project at work. Have you ever been so immersed in the research and trying to process all the data and information that you completely lost sight of your overall thesis, premise, or objective? Me too. All of us have at some point in time. Perhaps that is you right now.
The project will not go away. As long as you have time left before a deadline, stop and take two steps back. Do something NOT related to the project. Go for a walk, take a hike, or visit with friends. Something—anything to stop obsessing about what you haven’t done yet and how much more there is to do.
Let it go for a bit. That means don’t keep treading water in the deep end of the pool of looming deadline despair.
Instead, seriously commit to doing something else to clear your head. Allow all that information to settle on its own in your brain without you trying to categorize and figure out which comes first, the chicken or the egg.
Commit to STOP. Commit to take a few steps back. Then watch how much headspace is created. How much lighter you feel.
Many people throughout history have taken time to stop and clear their minds. Some make it a regular practice with meditation. It’s healthy to retreat. To let go. To sit still for a moment and just be.
Doing so allows the creativity and powers of the unconscious to resolve whatever challenges you are facing. Doing so makes room for creative insights and solutions to spring forth. Epiphanies are borne of silence, not from clanging cymbals like a monkey in a box.
Plus, as you retreat you are able to expand your views by using a wide-angle lens setting on a camera or your phone. Zoom out before you zoom in.
The third, and one of the most critical steps, is really a combination of the first two and many others which makes it challenging, but not impossible to accomplish. It will require discipline, practice, and willingness to fail.
It is one word that is a superpower when fully utilized and embraced mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That one word and the third tip is FOCUS!
Multitasking is bullshit and a big part of most people’s problems. Focus is the cure for virtually any mental block to forward progress. It is the panacea for procrastination, doubt, insecurity, and, at the same time the supercharged fuel for success.
Yes, there are many things to be done. There always are and always will be. But focus on what needs to be done right now. Prioritize. If more than one thing needs your “immediate attention”, find a way to prioritize each and make a decision to invest a set amount of time to either advance toward its completion or get it done now. Then do the same with the next priority.
Stop trying to chew gum, drive your kids to school while mapping out your presentation for your first client at work in your brain, while also checking your email, or Facebook, to see how many people liked your post about the “best lasagna ever” that you made for dinner last night.
Just stop. Retreat. Turn off push notifications, and instead ask your kid about what they like about school and focus on being present.
One thing at a time.
Do you want to be a super mom or dad who isn’t stressed out all the time? Try these tips out for a week or two. If they work for you, shoot me note to let me know how you did. How you felt. What made them work? What was the outcome.?
If they didn’t work for you, ask yourself why? What could you have done differently? How much did you actually practice them? Let me know why they didn’t work, too.
Practice, feedback, and adjustments are three key ingredients to personal growth and improvement
Why am I asking this? Because practice, feedback, and adjustments are three key ingredients to personal growth and improvement, especially when it comes to managing our time and what we think about. Your feedback not only helps me, it will help you more.
The chances are like most goals we have in life, that the problems aren’t out there. Nor are the solutions. The solution to overcoming stress is most often a few tips, decisions, and new habits away. They are found in doing, not overthinking.
Keep it simple. Remember and practice these three steps:
Give it a go and see how those work out for you.