As the new year was approaching, I was excited for all the big things we had planned. Then January happened and everything was a struggle. For the last few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about how to get a handle on everything and beat this ridiculous feeling that I'm adrift with no anchor or real direction.
What I've come up with is what I call The Truths I Know in Theory but Still Struggle to Execute.
+ Find Your Passions. There are loads of things that I have at least some interest in. My challenge is to focus the majority of my energies on the things I care most about. Take some time too think about the things you're most passionate about and direct as much time and energy accordingly.
+ Prioritize. There will always be infinite demands on your time and it's up to you to make the most of that time. A friend once said to me, when I was feeling overwhelmed, "Is it a today problem?" When I said no, she said, "Then it's a tomorrow problem. Handle the today problems first." I have used that system ever since to limit worrying about the things that don't really need to be done right away.
+ Say No. I have a habit of always saying "Sure, I can help with that." When in reality, I don't have time. I'm slowly getting better at knowing when I am maxed out or when I have some time to pick up other quick, small tasks. I'm also getting more selective about social activities. Sometimes sleep, errands, house projects or just quiet time at home are more important being the social butterfly all the time. The key is to not let little tasks, or things you don't really want to do, crowd out your passions.
+ Quiet Time. The mind needs quiet time to settle and actually think. Life is busy and frantic and overloaded with technology. Make time to sit quietly, go for a walk/run, road trip or write in your favorite spot.
+ Break Things Down. Along with prioritizing, break big projects into smaller tasks. I like to make list upon list of projects that have titles like "start nonprofit" or "chicken plans" or "garden" and then list out the smaller details that go into that big project. It helps accomplish the necessary tasks without the overwhelm of the big end goal.
+ Organize. Straighten your desk, streamline the to-do list Post-It notes, enter contact info into your contacts and toss the random scraps of paper all over your desk and file away what you don't need now. Clear the clutter. Sometimes I go on cleaning streaks when I feel like I'm drowning in to-dos just because an uncluttered space helps unclutter my mind.
+ Take Action. Now that you've got your passions, your priorities, your breakdown list and your clean and organized desk, get to conquering those mountains and big dreams. You've got the plan, go make it all happen!
I also have my happy place. Something on my desk that makes me smile. A photo, a book, a note, a stuffed animal, some token from a friend. But usually, it's this photo snapped by littlest sister one Christmas.
1. Rink Event. The board approved my idea and I am now an unstoppable force of making it happen. So much to do, so little time, but it's going to be amazing.
2. Stopped at the library and already finished Dan Brown's latest, Inferno. Had to get it in large print and the huge type may have given me headaches, but feels good to breeze through a book, especially one I'd been wanting to read.
3. Got out for a run. Finally. The winter weather let up long enough to crank out three miles and my iPod was charged and ready to go this time.
4. Sit spins. A few months ago, they were impossible for me to do. Now, a ton of squats later, plus ice time and sheer force of will, they're coming back, with less chance of face planting than the camel spin.
5. Good news. After a hard January, it's soul-lifting to have so much good news coming. There's a baby on the way and an engagement in the family (not me, everyone calm down). So much is going right, it feels like the tide is changing and I'll take it.
How do you handle the overwhelm and move the mountains you want to move? What are you happy about from the last week?