Many of our clients arrive in an overwhelmed state, and are frustrated at the lack of progress in their personal and professional lives. In order to regain their balance or, their footing, we teach them to understand that what is innate to all human beings is a well-being regulator, a place of equilibrium that is always attempting to bring harmony back into being. You can see this physically. When you scratch yourself, most of the time with little to no effort on your part, the body takes over and begins the healing process. If the area is left alone, and kept clean, the body heals on its own.
The same is true of our mental lives. When we are out of balance, off-kilter, in the midst of a thought storm, or all of the above, if we take a few deep breaths and get curious about our situation rather than resent it, we find that our well-being comes right back to a healthy place, without doing much soul-searching or intellectual understanding. Think of the time when you were in the midst of a bad mood and your best friend called. What happened to your mood? It became wonderful in that split second, right? That’s this process in action!
This is the beginning of an Inside-Out approach to life. We have our clients learn to be aware of their mood, and to have compassion for themselves when they feel overwhelmed, resentful, paralyzed, or reactive. These are simply moods that can fracture our focus and have us lose track of our intentions. Simple awareness is enough, by the way. If you try to ‘get into a good mood’, it will only get worse!
Once people can catch this at play, we turn to their lack of focus. It’s very hard to accomplish anything when scattered. Most people have a list of things they “have to do” in their heads, and never feel like there are enough hours in the day to accomplish that list. They fall into bed frustrated, often don’t sleep well, and start the whole debilitating process over again the next morning. Here’s a way to help break that cycle.
First, make an exhaustive list of all the things that need to be done. Don’t do them in order of importance. What we want is a brain dump. Once everything is in one place, rate them by What’s Up Now, What’s Coming Up, and What’s Not Up. Here’s the rule, however. There can only be 2 things at most on your What’s Up Now list. These things, if not done, will cause physical harm, loss of revenue, or emotional harm, to yourself or to another person. Only, at most, 2 things. Everything else goes on the other two lists.
As you begin to work each day, you begin with the first thing on the What’s Up Now list. The
smartest thing to do is set up your work space to lessen interruptions as much as possible. Don’t have email open, don’t have your phone on, for at least 90 minutes if at all possible. You will be amazed at how much you get done if you are actually uninterrupted for 90 minute segments of time. If you DO get interrupted, assess if this is an emergency that will cost anyone their life, or their money. If not, add it to a list, and go back to task #1.
Once you have completed task #1, take a congratulatory break! Stretch, have a cup of tea, eat a bite of something. Now check your email, voicemail, other media, to see if there are any emergencies. If not, take on task #2. Go through the same process. At the end of the day, you will have a real sense of accomplishment! And your project(s) will have moved forward.
The next morning, you move 2 more items onto your What’s Up Now list, and repeat. Amazingly, you will fly through your lists, be much less overwhelmed, and have much more focus. Which means you will be happier, more in balance, and wiser! Try it for a day or two and let us know how it goes. The trap is letting other things derail your focus, which is an addiction we all seem to have. We love new, pretty things, so we look at the new and get distracted. When you maintain your focus, things begin to roll smoothly and get into momentum, which is where true efficiency and career wisdom comes from.