Anyone else feel like they are running out of energy, time and focus? In a perfect world, I wish I could plan everything and know the exact outcome, but since you can’t, these are some techniques I use to pivot and adjust.
I am sure many of you can relate but when you hear that schools are cancelled for the year, you have to take an extra 20 steps to go grocery shopping and most of our life conveniences look a little different these days it makes you take a step back for sure. Layer in owning a business, or working from home and managing a family at the same time and knowing that your well laid out plan isn’t even close to what is really going to happen is a little scary.
If you are a high achiever, you probably juggle a lot of things during the day. And despite your best intentions you probably have days where you’re going to feel burnt out or just plain unproductive. This can lead to beating yourself up, a self-destructive cycle and that further distracts you from what needs to be accomplished.
Before we get into my actual tips, these are a few things that I tell myself when thinking about change.
Behavior Changes to Notice…
- Regardless of the scenario I always learn some REALLY valuable lessons when big change happens. So I try to focus on the fact that there could be a few silver linings out of this.
- Since we all are facing a lot of change and challenges right now, I think it is important to know that you are not in this alone. My step-daughter as an example is a senior at Vanderbilt this year. Graduation was cancelled. I can’t imagine being a senior in college (or high school for that matter) and literally getting sent home after 3.5 long years of work. There is really nothing to say except every other college kid in the country is facing the same challenge. So sometimes there is just comfort in knowing it is not just you.
- Go easy on yourself. If you have suddenly found yourself in a situation you weren’t planning on, cut yourself some slack. When your world gets knocked off its axis, it can take a little time to regain your footing. And that is OK.
- Notice the signs. Are you scrolling too much through instagram or FB or doing things you don’t normally enjoy? Like cleaning or small tasks that really don’t matter? Maybe you just sit and stare at a blank document. You start prioritize other people’s goals and agenda first. You keep starting a lot of projects and never finish them.
There are lots of ways to recover So once you have acknowledged that your plans don’t look like they used to, lets chat about a few tips I use to get back on track to help recover your productivity.
How to get back on track!
- Bring your goals back to the front and center. Which means take a minute. Slow down. And re-visit what your goals are and what you want to accomplish. Maybe some of your goals don’t make sense right now. Or maybe they do? Sometimes when I feel over overwhelmed I just get a blank piece of paper out and write down everything that is in my head in terms of what I think I need to do. (And let’s face it, for some of us writing a list is actually very theraputic!) Once they are out in front of me some of them stand out more than others. It helps me figure out what I can tackle in the time that I have. Be mindful of your priorities and how they have shifted. I have talked about this before but I literally launched this podcast the week the world shut down. I could have NEVER predicted that. But I decided to do it anyways. My goals are the same with the podcast from a business perspective, but I shifted my content to be more relevant to what is going on.
- Find some accountability. Once your goals are front and center, you need a support system. Because let’s face it, change is not easy. And you don’t need to go it alone. Can you find a friend to check in with? Maybe they have something they are working on and you can check in once a week? If your goal is an activity as an example, it doesn’t have to be one single person, maybe it is an app, or a group. That way they won’t give up on you! And who knows, maybe asking someone else to help will inspire them as well!
- Take teeny tiny steps. When the world is changing around you, taking a HUGE step towards a goal or an activity can seem daunting. So i try to focus on teeny tiny steps at a time. Let’s go back to an activity as an example. We will use launching a podcast again. I had no clue how to start a podcast but I knew I needed to learn. So I incoporated learning into my morning routine. Everyday I set aside 10 minutes to learn something about launching a podcast. It might be reading an article, writing the script, testing a microphone, but each day I knew, I just had to spend 10 minutes doing it. Once I got into a little more, it didn’t seem as scary. This same technique can be used with anything. Maybe you had a goal to lose 10lbs. But you can’t get out of bed for the life of you to actually get up and get a workout out. Try the 10 minute method. Give yourself 10 minutes a day to do something towards your 10lb goal. Maybe it is a walk. Maybe it is making a smoothie. Just 10 minutes. Set a time. Accomplish your goal. And done. Small steps can make a big difference.
- Limit distractions and comparisons. Distractions like social media can trainwreck productivity in 2 seconds. I use an app called “killNewsFeed” that literally shuts off my facebook scrolling. So when I am sitting down to write content as an example, I can’t go check out what my friends are doing. I also turn off ALL notifications on my phone. So when I get instagram messages, I don’t know unless I log into the app. I set aside specific times during the day to check messages which helps me not get distracted. And most importantly start comparing. We all know that what we see is not the whole story. It is snapshot. And while I would like to say I don’t compare, we all do. So sometimes just turning it off is the best way to stay focused.
- Done is better than perfect. I talked about teeny tiny steps and this relates to that. You need a win. A small victory that will help build your confidence and remind yourself that you can do this! It is so easy to get hung up on doing thing the optimal way and then not doing them at all. Try to focus on the fact that almost 90% of your results come from just focusing on the basics. It doesn’t need to be perfect. P.s. A really great resource for this is James Clear’s Atomic Habits. His whole concept is around how small changes can lead to remarkable results.
- Track your progress. This is one of my favorite tips from my consulting days. One of the things we always did for our clients at the end of an engagement was create a scorecard for them. Basically they would pay us a lot of money to come in and “Fix” their problems and then because we wanted to make sure they saw results, we created a way for them to monitor their progress with the solutions in place. Plus, getting started and then seeing your progress will energize you to keep pressing forward. Find a way to track your goals. Maybe it is as a sample as a checkmark next to each day that you did your 10 minutes of learning or working out as an example.. And at the end of a week write down what you learned. Or what you accomplished. Even if you miss a few days, it is important to look back at the end of a week or month and see just how much progress you have made. Remember. Tiny steps. It works.
- Celebrate success. And guess what. Success is sticking to the plan, not actually accomplishing the goal. For me personally, I try to map out what I want to accomplish each week and then work REALLY hard to get it done. My reward is taking Sunday morning off. And by off I mean phone is off, sleeping in, making a big breakfast with the family and enjoy the fact that I did what I could do. I know it wasn’t perfect, but taking a moment to appreciate the fact that I didn’t quit and I was able to pivot, makes me enjoy disconnecting and celebrating a little bit more.