I was having one of those days. We’ve all had them. Start early before the Sun rises and haul ass all day running from one appointment to the next. One responsibility to another. Granted, being professionally and personally busy is far better than seeing tumbleweeds rolling across your gmail and the heavy sounds of silence in your voicemail. Being busy certainly is a double edge sword. It means people want and need what you have to offer, but the sharp edge of that blade can often be the loss of self. Striving to move forward, to take care of others and to build a career are good things, but without some attention paid to personal well being you can find yourself in a steadily deepening and darkening hole.
So what to do? How do you fit it all in without exhausting yourself and getting 4-5 hours of sleep at night? Listed below are some imperfect but practical suggestions to start getting a handle on your day.
- Decide to Change: sounds simple but it is fundamentally the powerful thing you can do. And it must come first. Trying to change your life because someone else told you to isn’t going to last. You must decide that things need to change, not anyone else. Unless you really believe it you won’t follow through.
- Take an honest look at your schedule: Don’t look at it and wimp out. Be honest with yourself but stick to your guns. If things have to change then be willing to change them. Be practical but ambitious.
- Make a Plan and Follow Through: You’ve decided to change and you’ve taken an honest look at your schedule. Now you need to make a new plan for your day and your week. Everyone can do better no matter how wild and crazy their life is. We are often so stressed that we don’t see what we can do. The best way to make a plan is to keep it simple. (A) Start by eliminating anything in your day that is not important and wastes not only time but energy. If it’s important, see how you can be more efficient. (B) Recognize the times a day where you are the most stressed. For me, I am always rushing from client to client. My mistake was only allowing a 15 minute window. One little delay or mishap and I was screwed for hours. Changing 15 minutes to 20-25 saved me a lot of grief. (C) Stop looking at the news first thing in the morning. There are better ways to start your day than pissed off and depressed. Look at the news later. Trust me if anything big is happening you’ll find out soon enough! If knowing the news is part of your business, resolve to handle it professionally and not emotionally. Imagine a Doctor tearing up every time they started an operation! That would never work. (D) Set aside time every day to prepare your meals and get in at least 10 minutes of exercise daily. No matter how busy you are or what your schedule you can find time, and you have to! Remember, this is part of deciding to change. Think you don’t have time? There’s 168 hours in a week, someone you works 70 hours a week, gets in 8 hours of sleep nightly (which most people don’t), drives 10 hours a week for work, 3 hours for errands and 20 hours of personal time still has 9 hours left during the week. Still think you can’t find time to pack your lunch and exercise for 10 minutes? (E) Before bedtime get of your mobile devices, stop checking emails (and the news!), turn off the TV and have a little peace. Read a book, spend time with your significant other, have some sex (way better than checking email!)
- Be Flexible: Things are going to get screwed up. Its life and it will happen weekly if not daily. But your pilot doesn’t land at the wrong airport just because there’s a strong head wind. Your doctor doesn’t walk away from an operation because they find a complication. A coach doesn’t quit because his team is down at halftime. I could go on all day but you get the point. Things happen. Accept that and be willing to roll with the punches, make adjustments and power on. Keep making adjustments until you find success. Now rinse, lather and repeat.
The suggestions in this short article are not the end all to fix a stressful and overwhelming life. But they are simple and practical tools to help you start the process of regaining control of your life. A carpenter needs more than a hammer and saw to build a house, but a hammer and saw are certainly needed. Take an honest look at what needs to change. Make a decision and commit to following through. Make a plan. Ready? Grab those tools and start building! Before you know it, a new, prosperous and lower stressed life may be yours.