When you feel stuck, your world seems very small and closed-in, and there doesn’t seem to be any visible path forward.
It’s essential to have options in order to feel hopeful again. Spend time along with a coach/friend brainstorming as many potential solutions to your current dilemma as you can. There are no ridiculous options in brainstorming. In fact, some of the most out-of-the-box, zany ideas often have a hint of a solution in them. Don’t stop with three or four options; get 10-20 options on the table!
Then, only after you have exhausted your list, begin to evaluate the options as to which one or two seem most viable, most able to commit to. And begin playing with those ideas until an action plan forms.
As you make your decision to commit to putting your priorities into your schedule, think of your day in time-blocks. At work, you have a morning and an afternoon block; off-work, you have an evening block and six weekend blocks. Map our your week intentionally by putting your priority action plans into these available blocks so that distractions and wasted time don’t crowd them out.
Make your Goals: SMART and HARD
Specific (You have to be able to see the action in order to do it.)
Measurable (You must have to be able to know when it’s done.)
Attainable (It must be doable.)
Relevant to your vision (It must matter.)
Time-dated (It must have a specific deadline.)
Heartfelt (You have to have an emotional connection to it.)
Animated (You have to be able to visualize it completed.)
Required (It has to be part of what you must do.)
Difficult (It has to be a stretch.)
Evaluating Your Current Course
Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing (or proposing to do) going to get me closer to my goals (or vision for my life), or farther away from my goals?”
Before you launch something: pretend your endeavor failed and list all the potential reasons it did. Then, mitigate those reasons up front to avoid failing.
The 3 most important words relating to time management are Narrow Your Focus! Make the shift from doing many things well to doing fewer things with greater excellence. What must you stop doing to ensure that you complete your priorities every day?
Self-affirmations help you blast away the self-condemning messages you tell yourself in your head. Here are some examples to repeat often in order to replace the bad with the good; customize specifically to combat your negative thinking–to what you need to empower yourself: “I will take my next step in that area.” “I will speak only positively about others and myself.” “I will stay in my strength zone, yet be willing to leave my comfort zone.” “My creativity will shine.”
Sometimes your brain is so cluttered with everything on your plate that it bogs you down, and you find it hard to know where to start. Overwhelmed? Take 30 minutes or less and write down everything on your mind: to-do items, what you are worried about, events coming up, aches/pains, your wish list… Just getting it from your brain onto paper somehow clears your mind and puts all those things into a format that you can work with. If you are ambitious, sort the brain dump into categories (including what you can/can’t control!). Then if you are really ambitious, make the things within your control into tangible action plans, rank them by importance, and put the first ones on your calendar.
Find Your 5
As you evaluate your time management, list 5 things you shouldn’t have spent time on in the last 3 days, and 5 things in the next 3 days that you shouldn’t have committed to. Then start making changes so that next week, you get different results!
Fills and Drains
Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. At the top of the left column, write the word “Fills”; below it, write 15-20 things that fill your emotional tank and make you smile and give you energy. For me, it’s waterfalls, reading, listening to music, golfing, dates with my family members, vacations, a clutter-free desk, etc. Then, find ways to put some of these items every week into your schedule deliberately. This is essential if you are in a funk and need to brighten your spirits.
At the top of the right column, write the word “Drains”; below it, write 15-20 things that drain the life out of you, suck away your energy, and put a downer in your day. For me it’s traffic, wind, people who are negative or bullies, bills, etc. Then, you have 3 choices with these drainers: put boundaries around them so you distance from them as much as possible, create an action plan to deal with them, or emotionally let them go (a la the serenity prayer), realizing they are out of your control and thus not worth worrying about.
Hal Elrod’s LIFE SAVERS, or Life-giving activities to do every morning