The most common sources of burnout don’t truly include your boss, clients or finances. Instead, they are our own mental habits and emotional patterns that WE can actually transform.
If you’ve been feeling frustrated and getting very little actually accomplished, you’ll be glad to know…
You hold the key to the change you’re seeking.
We tend to think the greatest sources of irritation somehow come from others – our impatient boss, challenging clients or even finances, but really, much of our dissatisfaction is driven by our own mental habits and emotional patterns.
I’d like to offer you some unexpected insights into the foundational causes of your behavior.
And I’ll share some practical tools you can begin implementing now, that will have you feeling more centered and focused pretty quickly.
First, I have some news for you.
Time-management is an illusion.
As hard as we may try to bend time, we all have the same number of minutes in an hour and hours in a day, so…
Please stop thinking you can manage time.
The only thing you can manage is yourself.
I work with my clients around many different self-management tools, but here are three I find to be most important:
Tell yourself the truth about time.
Notice how many activities take your time that you don’t actually have on your calendar. For example, when you have a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m., be truthful about the time you need before and after the meeting:
- How long does it take to get yourself prepared for the meeting, including personal and professional preparation? Did you include time for getting the kids going or answering your partner’s questions? How about feeding yourself a healthy breakfast? And time to pack your bag or gather your presentation notes?
- How long does it take you to drive there, AND park, AND find the meeting room? Or getting your computer charged, finding the right link and setting-up your environment for a Zoom call? Did you count brushing your hair and getting out of your pajamas?
- How much follow-up time do you need to get back to your desk and organize your actions around the content of the meeting? What needs to be done before the next meeting?When you’re honest about these extra time requirements, you don’t end up rushed and squeezed for time or with a big pile of unfinished business on your desk after back to back meetings.It’s best to actually enter these time slots as “appointments” on your calendar because if you don’t, you’re likely to be selling your follow-up action plan short, needing to jump on your next call immediately or heading out for another appointment. If you can’t do your follow-up items right away, at least schedule a block of time on your calendar to come back to it.
Recognize your own “power zone.”
- Your power zone is the time of day when your brain is at its best. It’s when you feel the freshest, sharpest, most clear-thinking and productive, but it’s not the same block of time for all of us.
- This is the space for activities that require the most brain power and creativity, like brainstorming, conceptualizing and problem solving, writing, and planning… things that move the needle in your business the most.
- For most people, it’s a 2 or 3 hour window. For some it’s very early in the morning, but not for everyone, so don’t feel guilty if that’s not you. Maybe yours is once the day’s action quiets down or you get a second wind late at night. The key is just to know when YOUR power zone is and then plan accordingly.
- Arrange your schedule so you can be uninterrupted during this time and enter it as a block on your calendar because really it’s the most important daily “appointment” you have.
- And, don’t give this time away to admin tasks or things that do need to get done, but don’t require your most powerful brain. (Hint: Your power zone is not for email or social media.)
Understand the real dynamics of procrastination.
Procrastination is not a character flaw, but an effective tool that allows you to avoid uncomfortable feelings. You avoid the uncomfortable feelings that go along with the project, not the project itself.
- Acknowledge the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts you have around what you are putting off. Some examples are: I’m not sure how to do this; I’m not good at this; It feels hard or daunting; What if I get exposed as being in over my head; What if someone else’s is better than mine. What if they don’t like it. This is so boring and not a good use of my time.
- Support yourself through the negative feelings. This means positive self-talk, with understanding, gentleness, and care. How would you talk to a friend who is feeling the way you are?
- If you are procrastinating on something you’re telling yourself you “should” do, chances are, it’s something you may need to consider outsourcing, delegating or dumping all together. Sometimes paying an expert or asking for help instead of banging your head against a wall will actually increase productivity by saving you time, money, and sanity in the long run.
Pick one of these ideas to start prioritizing tomorrow.
Please don’t attempt to integrate them all at once on day 1.
Remember they are habits so they take time to build, but with practice you’ll get there.
I’ll be rooting for you!
If you’ve found yourself in uncertain territory as our world continues to unfold, I can help. We are all feeling it and you’re not alone. I’ve helped many clients find the path that is right for them in the face of challenging circumstances. Please reach out for support, whether career related, or otherwise.
And if you know a friend or neighbor who could use hearing the advice in this article, please forward this to them too.