We have all been there, right? There is a massive list of things that we need to do – so massive that as we stare at it and add more to it as we stare at it, we are overwhelmed. Overwhelmed to the point that we won’t do anything.
I remember when I was starting up my business, I had so many things that needed to get done at the same time – and I was only limited by my own time. OMG – does this get any easier? You then start working with clients, some straight forward, others much more demanding and OMG – here we go again.
So this made me start to think about some small hacks that we can apply to help us make sense of this ever-increasing list of stuff that we need to do.
What I hear you say? Why would I want to stop if I have a vast pile that needs to get sifted, sorted and actioned? So that is the problem. Because the huge pile is there, we see what we want to see or what we are attracted to and concentrate (if we can) on that.
We need to do is to STOP and take stock on what we are trying to achieve. Think about your purpose. By understanding your goal, you can then focus on aligning what you are going to do.
How many times do you put something on that list of things that you need to do and it is still on there later in the week, month, year?
So ask yourself WHY AM I SETTING MYSELF UP TO FAIL?
Why are you adding your wishlist of things that you would like to do to a list of absolute imperatives?
So let’s look at something that is a bit more focussed that will help to make you more ACCOUNTABLE for your top priorities. Sure, make a list of everything you need to achieve, but instead of just staring at them, pull out the three that you can achieve TODAY! Three that mean something to your overall mission and are aligned to your passion. Focus all your energy on achieving these today.
We now need to think about how we are structuring what we do. We work well when we have goals or deadlines, and these goals need to be relevant to what we do. You may have heard about a SMART goal, and this can be applied here. We need to make what we are doing Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound. This SMART goal or objective then provides us with an understanding of what, how, why and when we should be working. Again, what we may find is that this creates a monster – something huge. If that is the case, we need to break this down into smaller elements. I think about the big huge goals as the hard goals – the absolute outcome behind the reasons for doing what I am doing. We can set smaller soft goals or steps that make the journey to achieving a HARD goal. Please note, that just because I refer to this as a SOFT goal, it doesn’t mean that you need to pay less attention to it. You need to pay as much attention to the SOFT goals as by achieving the sequence of soft targets, you will accomplish that larger HARD goal. An extension to thinking about SMART objectives is SMARTER.
Having an idea of how your day is going to pan out is now really important. You know how sometimes the day meanders from brunch to lunch to tea? Let’s get a bit more purpose in what we are about and start adding a PLAN to our day. So, some people love planning – and can go the other way and you can over plan. What I am suggesting is that you break your day up into segments and align that to what your top 3 activities are. Where I have an intense session to work through, I often break this into smaller segments and use something that has been coined the Pomodoro method.
The Pomodoro Method is straight forward.
Set your timer on your mobile to 25 minutes – that is going to be the length of the intense activity that you are going to work on. Why 25 minutes? I find this a really good period to concentrate on what I want to achieve. At the end of 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break. Now let’s talk about what I mean by having a break. I mean, get up from your pad, and walk about, grab a glass of water. This will help you stay hydrated, which we all know is good for us. After 5 minutes, go again. After the 4th work session – gift yourself a more extended break. There is no point in trying to concentrate in a 5th straight session, so give yourself a 30-minute break. Could be time to walk the dog, flick across to get some groceries, just something different.
This break is SOOO vital as what you are doing is allowing your brain to cool down. You have been keeping the front part of your brain, called the prefrontal cortex, busy by doing the work. This is a flexible part of our brain, that benefits from the occasional distraction, and that is what we want to do now. It is likely that after the long break, you will feel energised and focused on more activities.
As we finish off, I feel that we need to give ourselves a bit of self-love. We need to be kind to ourselves and reward ourselves when we achieve our HARD goal. This is an individual thing but build in some time to give yourself some time to celebrate your achievement. What is it that motivates you? What could you give yourself as a real pat on the back to celebrate and motivate you?
So, that’s it. Five ideas to help you overcome that feeling of being stuck and liberate that inner amazing you.