One of my pet hates is (insert wail) “There are just not enough hours in a day and it stresses me out!!!”. Before you get mad and tell me just how busy you are being busy, just give me a minute to explain.
If you never give your life a mental stock take then it will easily run out of control. This is what I will keep going on about here on Conscious Me. You have to stay on top of your life! Yes it is admin-y work. No, it isn’t as fun as hitting the sofa with a Friends re-run. It is your life though. How important is it to you really?
I get it, with work life often bleeding into our personal lives we are faced with a barrage of emails, meetings, phone calls, voice messages, family, friends, life admin – the list goes on. We are all just so busyyyyyy!
You tell yourself that you have to take it all on. Sheer frustration may drive you to keep adding more to your to-do list because you know that these things just won’t get done by themselves. All facade of control is gone. Does this sound familiar? This scenario is fine if it is just every now and them but if this becomes your everyday life then something has to give – it isn’t living and it will make you miserable.
Let me introduce you to Mental Bandwith. There is a reason why incredibly successful people are able to achieve amazing things. Think Leonardo Da Vinci, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Beyonce and many others. What is it that these legends are doing that you aren’t? They have set off on a creative revolution whilst you are panicking as you see your notifications pinging away on your smart phone and then the horror really starts as you realise that you don’t have any clean clothes as you can’t remember the last time you did the washing!!!!
Glad that you asked. As our minds are becoming overwhelmed by the constant stress of “busy-ness” the bandwith that we have to think clearly or problem solve becomes compromised. Science has proven time and time again that our brain has limited capability for consciously processing multiple things at any given time.
The key to getting balance and your life back under control is to increase your mental bandwith and removing the blocks that are stopping the flow of thoughts, clearing up that beautiful mind of yours. I know that this seems really quite simple but as many things it is often easier said than done.
I want you to take back control with both hands. Grab it, wrestle it and get back your mental bandwith so that you can use it for good and not the mundane:
1. STOP IT. STOP EVERYTHING AND START ANALYSING
You know that everything is unbalanced but you cannot see the wood for the trees. That big picture thing, not happening. You need to take a stocktake of where you are at and where you want to be. Don’t scrimp on time with this. I see you shaking your head. This is your life that you are trying to get back in control. Block out a full day if you need to, if you are done sooner great but at least you have dedicated time to this – it is your life we are talking about. Grab some post its and start to scribbling where your time is going. Get it all out. It doesn’t matter if you use one colour or colour code, just put pen to paper and write it all down.
2. PRIORITISE YOUR TASKS
Ok, you have all of your post it notes. It is now time to start working out what is what. Start grouping them by IMPORTANT and URGENT (time critical). Define the most important things that you need to do and start grouping the things that you can see are not really that important or urgent. Work out what things you will do each day – 3 to 5 that if they don’t get done, your day is over. Do these things first every day – no excuses or procrastination. A great book to read on this topic is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
3. DO A LIFE DETOX
We all fall victim to filling our time with time consuming yet wasting tasks that we know add no value but we have convinced ourselves they have to be done. Work out (again, I recommend post it’s!) what things you have that are draining your mind and energy – this could be people. If they don’t add value or serve towards a bigger picture – cull them.
4. SCHEDULE YOU-TIME
Just as you would an important meeting, schedule time in your diary for YOU. It actually doesn’t matter what you do, it just has to be what you want to do. This time cannot be eaten into by doing things that you shouldn’t – you need to schedule time for you. This can be watching a movie, reading a book, going to you chill place. Whatever it is – allow an hour if possible. A 20 min run will help but not by much. Schedule this time and make it consistent.
If you don’t already practice, learn. This is one of the most vital methods to living a balanced, in control and fulfilling life. In fact, many successful people, both business and celebrity have a daily meditation practice. If you feel that this is a slightly daunting process you can get some amazing aids. Have a read on the Mindfulness blog post I wrote a while ago. Still not feeling it (although I think you will if you really make a go of it) then get outside and go for a long walk.
Combine these steps with better work planning and a focus on expanding your mental bandwidth to experience a more productive state of calmness, concentration and clarity, and improve your ability to think straight.