Have you ever felt like you’re spinning your wheels and not going anywhere? Like you’re just in survival mode from day to day and nothing is happening in regards to achieving your goals?
Those goals seemed so important and realistic when you set them but now you’re beginning to question your abilities. You may be asking yourself, “How in the world did I think I’d be capable of that?” “Why am I not feeling motivated to work on this important goal anymore?” “Am I lazy?” “I’m so busy taking care of the kids, the house, etc, how can I make time for my goals!?”
These questions are completely normal! We often experience feelings like this when we get overwhelmed by how much work it’s going to take to reach our big goal. When that initial excitement and enthusiasm wears off, we are left with the realization that this goal is going to take a lot of work, patience, energy and commitment.
The first thing I recommend when these negative feelings come creeping into our mind is to allow yourself to feel them. Don’t try to play them off and tell yourself lies that you’re too smart to believe.
Take a few minutes to just think. Turn off all distractions. Sit in a quiet space and just focus on the feelings you’re having.
Put a label on these feelings. For example:
I feel like a failure because I’m not making progress.
I feel frustrated with the lack of time I have to spend working towards my goal.
I feel drained.
I feel paralyzed by the sheer amount of things I need to get done to achieve this goal and don’t know how to begin.
Next, make a brain dump of all the ways you could make these negative feelings go away. For example:
I could do one little task each day to move me closer to my goal.
I could make a list of everything I need to do and delegate some of it to others.
I could give myself a weekend of pampering to calm myself down before tackling my goals again.
I could develop a specific plan that maps out exactly how I can achieve my goals so I see that it is possible.
As soon as you start to feel yourself becoming overwhelmed and stressed, that is your first sign to STOP! The alarms are buzzing and the sirens are screaming! Do the exercise I mentioned above where you feel those negative feelings, label them and accept them.
Now you’re ready to write down your plan of attack so you are always ready for battle.
I use a technique called chunking.
It’s a way to divide up your day into certain amounts of time that are designated to achieve specific results. You don’t spend any time without a pre-thought out plan, just as I’m guessing you don’t spend money without having a plan. Time and money should be treated similarly because they are both limited resources that we seem to never have enough ot. (unless you’ve got gobs of money you don’t know what to do with, and if so, call me!)
If you don’t control your day, your day will control you!
A quote that I like to keep in mind when I get stressed out is, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
How to Get Out of Your Funk (by Planning!)
Here’s the step-by-step breakdown:
Whether you use an electronic calendar or a paper calendar, write down all time-bound events that are scheduled for the whole week. Your calendar is not the place to write down your To-Do list, we’ll talk about that later. The cool thing about electronic calendars (I love Google calendars), is you have the capability to share your calendar with your spouse or assistant. This is great for keeping track of what’s going on in people’s lives that will alter your own plans.
Your Task Manager
There are several ways to keep track of all your projects and tasks. Again, you have the choice of using electronic tools or pen and paper. Some apps you may find helpful are Trello, Nozbe, Asana, Wunderlist or Omnifocus. Whatever system you use, you should always be thinking in bite-sized pieces.
Break your projects down into small tasks that take only 10-15 minutes to complete, and keep this list with you at all times. You will stay motivated, encouraged and have the option of squeezing in a task or two in those awkward, random moments during the day when we otherwise may just waste on Facebook.
Schedule in Your Chunks
I always recommend writing down a plan for the day before the day begins. Your daily plan should include a variety of time blocks, with each block focusing on its own objective.
My morning chunk looks like this:
4:45 up, drink hot lemon water and write in my journal
6:00 shower/get ready
7:00 get the kids up and ready and eat breakfast together
8:00 take the boys to school/head to work
When I developed my morning chunk routine, I first determined what the objective was of this time-block. For me, my objective was to set myself for a day of success and productivity. My workout, journaling, eating a healthy breakfast, and spending quality time with my kids all accomplish that.
My house cleaning business chunk
I then move on to my next time chunk, which is working at my house cleaning business. This is a four-hour time block, which leads me to about 12:30pm. The objective of this time block is to provide house cleaning services to my clients.
Then it’s time for me to move to my next time block, which is my lunch chunk. I find this time very valuable and highly recommend lunch breaks! Just getting a chance to switch our mental gears helps us stay fresh and alert. It’s even better if you can go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine.
My lunch chunk
When I return home from cleaning houses, I spend 20 minutes watching a Friends rerun on Netflix and eating a quick lunch. It’s a great way for me to break up my day between the 2 types of work I do.
My coaching business chunk
I love this chunk! Within this chunk, I have mini-chunks I work through in a systematic order. First, I check email and social media and tie up any loose ends with my clients or assistant. Next, depending on the day of the week, I work on writing blog posts, product creation, or research for upcoming projects. When this time block is completed, it’s time for me to shift into my next chunk.
My Mom chunk
Yay! My favorite chunk of the day! Again, this chunk has several mini-chunks included. I get the kids from school and we come home and have snack, work on homework and practice instruments. Then it’s time to work on dinner and preparing for whatever sporting practice we have that night.
My evening chunk
Before ending the day, I like to prepare for the next day as much as possible. We all do a whirlwind 10 minute clean, which leaves the house in a neat and tidy state for the next day. I write out my to-do list, lay out the kids’ clothes, get backpacks ready, and journal again.
So, as you can see, my day isn’t so rigid and structured by the time on the clock as it is very subtly mapped out via chunks. I thrive on structure and routine, but don’t want to feel like I’m losing control if a task I’m working on takes longer than I anticipated. Working in the frame of time chunks really gives me that sense of control and accomplishment I need. No more thinking, “Ah!!! I’m 15 minutes over what I planned!”
I hope all these examples and ideas have been useful for you. The thing I love about daily systems is that they can be adapted to fit anyone’s unique preferences. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to plan your day, it’s just about finding the way that’s right for you.
I’d love to hear how you structure your days. Feel free to share your ideas with me!
If you are needing a little help in setting yourself up for a successful 2017, I have a few GET YOUR REAR IN GEAR FOR THE NEW YEAR 2-hour sessions available. If you’re just needing some guidance about designing a productive and meaningful life, join my Facebook group called EMPIRE OF MOMS. I hope to stay in touch!!
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