Are you feeling out of control lately? What may have started as a mild to moderate spiral with the juggling act of your personal and professional life has now escalated to a full-blown “what is going on??” with the many changes and shifts that have occurred during pandemic life. You are not alone.
The reality is that most women were burning the candles at both ends pre-pandemic to make it all happen. While some things may have gotten easier as quarantines became the new normal (maybe your commute got a whole lot shorter? Or let’s cheers to having a valid excuse to have dinner delivery more than you care to admit!), many things just got more jumbled and uncertain. Through it all, one thing remains crystal clear: you, and only you, are responsible for your self-care and the ownership required to take control when you feel as though you have lost it. Listen, friend, for all that you are and all that you do, you deserve to enjoy the journey. It is your life to live. So, let me offer up some tips to help you with that.
More often than not, it’s not the lofty goals we have or the tactical responsibilities we pile on to keep our careers on track, and our families nurtured that drives us into the ground. Sure, it can be exhausting and even numbing to be on the hamster wheel driving all over God’s creation every day, or keeping up with the insane number of school emails, or trying to respond to texts and emails in a fast enough fashion to say we are on top of our game and give a flying monkey about whatever it is, or not, in fact, dead. Did you ever notice, though, that what makes us start losing our stuff and wanting to crawl under a blanket for a very long time is actually when daily life begins to feel like Willy Wonka’s psychedelic boat ride on the chocolate river going faster and faster with a swirling backdrop of insanity? We lose our focus and don’t even know what we are doing when, for what reason, and who we are at any given moment.
Here are three steps you can journal about (or put in notes on your phone) and put into action:
- Identify the million thoughts. Open the flood gate.
The first step into getting control of your mind and daily life is first to understand what you are trying to take control of. What are all of the monkeys in your circus? Without concerning yourself with structure or pretty words, jot down all of the things that are flying around in your brain, from the little nagging to-do’s to the fire-eating dragon that is breathing down your neck. Keep writing until your brain settles down and you find yourself looking around the room aimlessly.
Now, evaluate your list. Group things that may be related (you can’t do one without the other) and move to the next step.
Star the items on your list that are bigger lifts and require more energy and time. Put a smiley face beside all of the tactical, low-hanging fruit that you can do fairly easily to earn the checkmark of completion.
As you move towards prioritization, think about those items that absolutely have to get done within a certain timeframe. Also, consider those things that will give you the most fantastic sense of accomplishment for forward progress or completion. Finally, consider who or what will drain or fill your emotional tank by addressing that task (this may reveal what you should try to do sooner than later or not.)
Now, create three separate lists for your priorities for your home, work, and social lives. Start with what has to get done in the next 24 hours, then follow that by listing things that have to be done (or show progress) over the next week. Are there any smiley-faced items that you can knock off today to help declutter? Are there any fire-breathing dragons that just need to be put in a cave for a little while until you have the capacity to deal with them? Are there any starred-items that can be broken down into smaller pieces to spread across the next week or two? Remember, progress is progress, no matter how little
Once you have your three lists for the immediate and near term, as well as your quick hits to declutter, take a moment to reflect on what you see. Do you have a greater sense of clarity? Do you feel more confident that you can manage your lists? What support do you need to move forward, and who can you ask for assistance, if needed?
Now, let’s close the journal and rethink the rhythm of your life.
- Cut yourself a break.
There are things you can implement immediately to make your life more manageable and allow you to feel more confident and in control. Don’t underestimate the power of giving yourself permission to take a break. That doesn’t mean you abandon responsibilities, but it does mean you can take yourself off the clock for an hour, an evening, or a day. Implementing micro-strategies to help you recharge and feel more fulfilled throughout the day are critical to your overall health and life satisfaction. Here are a few ideas to infuse a refreshing fun-factor into your quest to tackle your lists:
- Take a break. Set your list aside and do something just for you. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Watch your favorite show. Meditate. Do something to make your brain happy and calm.
- Reimagine your to-do’s. For example, can the grocery run go from a chore to a secret escape? Perhaps you treat yourself to your favorite coffee on your way there, or you listen to a fun playlist or podcast while you roam the aisles, or you break out of your usual route and go to a different/better store for a change of scenery.
- Celebrate! Once you do something on your list, take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment. You might brag to your spouse and share an adult beverage, or order a little gift for yourself, or do an activity that you really love and rarely make time for. You’ll find that committing to celebrations creates a great sense of fulfillment and happiness along the way and reduces the stress associated with busy daily and weekly schedules.
So, how do you feel? Have your priorities come into focus and your brain settled down? Remember that it takes time to form new habits, but by taking time out when you start to feel your world spinning you can regain control and your self-confidence. Cheers, girl!
All my best and more,
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