10 Tips and Tricks to Help You Cope with Your Busy Life
We all want to be happy and successful, right? Well, yeah… obviously. Trouble is, ‘stuff’ gets in the way. All too often, it’s the little things that take up our time and attention. They pile up, distract us, and before you know it we’re up to our necks in ‘overwhelm’, with no clue how to dig ourselves out.
Question is, when this kind of *#%! happens, how do we get back on track? There’s no easy answer (it does us no good to pretend there is), BUT… it can be done!
If you ever find yourself in ‘overwhelm’ and need to get on top of things, then you might want to consider the 10 tips listed below:
1. Embrace the Hard Stuff: Okay, you’re going to hate this, but ALWAYS tackle that thing (and there’s always that thing) you really don’t want to do first! Simply by getting your teeth into it, even if it’s something you can’t complete in one go, you’ll not only conquer your fears, but everything else on your plate will suddenly seem a whole lot more manageable!
2. Remove Distractions: Distractions are… aww, you’re such a cute doggie! Hold on! Wait! What???… Distractions are everywhere, and the quality of our work always suffers when we’re side-tracked. And that happens a lot, right? Because, distractions. Facebook, Instagram, texts, emails, YouTube, Twitter, the dog pulling itself like a slug across the carpet… honestly, you’re just the cutest… Hey! Focus! Put those pesky distractions aside. Get on with what you need to do.
3. Don’t Overlook the Small Stuff: Putting out the rubbish, clearing the dishwasher, cutting your toenails… those little tasks, huh? We think we can put them off forever until – ‘Wham!’ – they’re on top of us and we don’t know where to start. Don’t let this happen. Take a deep breath, look around, use the next 5 minutes to sweat the small stuff – Go!
4. Set Aside Time for Work: So obvious, but oh-so-hard, right? It’s amazing how the day can get away on us and our work gets put to one side. To overcome this, we should set aside a period of time – maybe 10 minutes, maybe 30 minutes, maybe even (gulp!) a whole hour – where we do nothing but work . Seriously. Nothing. But. Work.
5. You Don’t Need to Be a Perfetionist Perfectionist: This stops a lot of us. We’re so worried about doing something absolutely just-so that we end up doing nothing at all. Be prepared to forgive yourself (yep, we know it’s hard) if something doesn’t go exactly to plan. Better still, be proud of yourself for having given it a go.
6. Take Time Out: No matter what you’re working on, you can’t stick at it forever. It’s counter-productive. So, every once in a while, treat yourself to a break, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Meditate. Listen to some tunes. Read a book. Grab a cup of coffee. Breathe… Do whatever it takes to relax, if only for a moment. And then go back to your task. You’ll feel much better and you’ll be more focused.
7. Keep Yourself Motivated: Set yourself goals and make a timeframe in which to achieve them (like finishing this article before getting some lunch because, dude, sooo hungry right now). And reward yourself when you get something done (that’d be lunch… thinking a salad, with a sprinkling of roasted nuts and some chimichurri dressing). Alternatively – and serial procrastinators, listen up – you might look to punish yourself in some small way for not getting something done (No lunch??!! It’s too horrible to even contemplate…).
8. Make Yourself Accountable to Others: Be loud. Be proud. Let people know what you’re going to accomplish and the tasks for which you’re responsible. This not only puts your skin in the game, it shares accountability and motivates everyone.
9. Focus On the End Goal: It’s vital you have a big picture goal for yourself or your family (two weeks at a 5-star tropical resort, anyone?). Keep it in mind at all times and keep going for it, even when that niggly little distraction we call ‘life’ gets in the way.
10. And Last But So Completely-Not-The-Least… Create a To Do List: Ahhh, the humble ‘To Do’ list… so easily overlooked, but oh-so-important if you want to manage your life.
The ‘Efficiency Guru’ and author of the book, ‘Master Your Workday Now’1, Michael Linenberger, is pretty much the king of the ‘To Do’ list. He thinks we can better manage our lives by creating a simple ‘Workday Mastery To Do List’ (yes, it’s a mouthful, and yes, it really does work!). Linenberger breaks his list into three ‘urgency zones’ – ‘Critical Now’, ‘Opportunity Now’, and ‘Over the Horizon’ tasks.
‘Critical Now’ tasks should be reserved for anything which needs doing, like, right freakin’ now! You should never have more than 5 ‘Critical Now’ tasks at any one time (after all, apart from stay-at-home or working mums, who the hell can handle more than 5 tasks at once?). But you do need to list them and you do need to keep them in front of you, as getting on top of them will help you dial back your stress levels. Not sure if a task should be on this list? Ask yourself this question – Will I be able to relax tonight knowing this task hasn’t been done? If the answer is ‘No’, then add that task to your ‘Critical Now’ list.
‘Opportunity Now’ tasks aren’t due immediately, they’re more the kind of tasks you’d like to get to today if you could. But keep on top of them and keep reviewing them, because these kind of tasks have the habit of sneaking up on you and suddenly becoming urgent. If they do, they’re not ‘Opportunity Now’ tasks any longer, they need to be moved to your ‘Critical Now’ list. Oh, and another thing? This list will quickly grow waaayy too large if you let it. To avoid this, make it a rule to never let ‘Opportunity Now’ tasks get above 20 in number.
‘Over the Horizon’ tasks are the kind of tasks we all love, the ones you can postpone until next week or even much longer. Mind you, that doesn’t mean you can forget about them! You’ll still need to review this list from time-to-time, just to see if you can fit one of them into your schedule or whether they need moving into your ‘Opportunity Now’ list.
And… that’s it! If you find yourself in overwhelm, it’s unlikely that any one thing will help you dig yourself out of the mire. Instead, it’s a whole heap of little things, things to do with preparation and mind-set and the way we live our lives, which will help you slowly reclaim your center.
Deep. Now, how about that lunch…
1Linenberger,Michael; ‘Master Your Workday Now’; New Academy Publishers 2010.