Your alarm goes off at 5:30 am. You press snooze. Multiple times.
I’ll exercise tomorrow.
When you finally open your eyes at 7 am it’s to the bright, electronic light of your inbox. You scroll down through your emails. You start responding straight away.
I’ll journal/write/meditate tomorrow.
A client calls you when you’re in the middle of breakfast. You take the call which lasts 20-minutes. You never finish your muesli.
I’ll eat a healthy and nutritious breakfast tomorrow.
Another client asks for a 5th round of edits completely out of the blue. They demand it be done now. You stop what you’re working on and get right to it.
I’ll put my processes and procedures in place tomorrow.
You cancel a dinner date with a friend. You’re exhausted. And you still need to do household chores.
I’ll socialise tomorrow.
Sound familiar? It’s about time you take back control of your life.
Too many of us spend our days letting other people dictate our time and hold our attention. Then we wonder why we’re miserable. Tired. Unhealthy. Isolated.
We try and control things that can’t be controlled and ignore the things we can.
I know this feeling too well. Just today I felt my stress levels rising. I was flicking between different email accounts. Taking client calls. Working on three different projects. Chasing down invoices. I felt like I was running fast but getting nowhere. I was trying to control the wrong thing: Other people.
Instead, I should have been trying to focus on what I can control, which is the way I feel and react to the situations I face.
I can’t make my clients review their website copy faster. But I can eat a healthy breakfast so I don’t have a sugar crash at 3 pm when they finally reply. I can’t predict if a publisher will like my pitch but I do know I’ll feel energised and more creative after I exercise and, therefore, produce a better idea.
It’s so easy to become distracted and wind up never getting anything done. People always ask me how I remain dedicated and focused. And if I’m honest, most of the time it’s out of necessity. But I’ve also spent a lot of time creating personal boundaries, planning my ideal work day and creating healthy daily rituals.
And on my ridiculously unproductive days, I remember I can’t get organised and live the life I want without putting in the effort. There’s not an App that can help you take back control of your life. It’s really up to you.
Here are my tips for getting a handle on your life.
Create personalised and sacred daily rituals
Humans love routines. Want to exercise more? Learn a language? Read more books? Then make time for it and do the action at the same time every day.
In most cases, the best time to focus on yourself is first thing in the morning before the world has had a chance to influence your thoughts and feelings. Also, make sure don’t let anyone (including yourself!) encroach on that time. Treat it as a sacred space where you can do what you love.
Sleep, then sleep some more
How come every successful person’s routine begins with “I get up at 4 am…?” If you’re tired or need 10 hours sleep every night then stop setting your alarm at stupid times.
Fatigue is one of the biggest causes of the mid-morning freak out when it all feels too much and you end up having a big cry. It’s also not great when you’re trying to be super focused and produce great work. Clients won’t need to call you back for the 10th time if you do the job right the first time.
Don’t sit in front of your ‘chocolate bar’
It’s pretty hard to resist the temptation of eating a block of chocolate for lunch when it’s in your fridge. Or avoid Facebook when you have phone notifications turned on. If you want to focus on challenging projects then you need to get rid of all other distractions.
We’re wired to avoid hard work and pain, and to seek out things that are quick, easy and pleasurable. Unfortunately, healthy eating plans and writing social media strategies aren’t on most people’s fun-things-to-do lists. If you don’t have a choice, eventually you’re going to make yourself that salad.
Remember: You’re not a juggler
Contrary to what you may have heard, multi-tasking doesn’t make us more productive. In fact, switching tasks only makes each task take longer. We’re constantly being bombarded with information and are expected to be available 24/7, but humans aren’t designed to juggle multiple jobs at once.
We work better on one task for an intense period of time. Cut your day into chunks and schedule your workload so you’re only doing one thing at a time. If a job or email comes in, don’t drop everything to focus on it. Instead, allocate it a time slot and keep doing what you’re doing. I doubt anyone’s going to die if they have to wait a few hours to hear your thoughts on the new choice of office toilet paper.
Featured image from Pexels.