There is almost nothing more stressful than an overbooked schedule. Coming in a close second is a cluttered and disorganized physical environment. Combine the two together and you have the ingredients for chronic exhaustion. Yet, I would venture to say that most of us live in a constant state of over-promising (to ourselves, our families, clients, etc.) and feeling like we fall short. And because we are so overstretched, tending to our environment (mental and physical) takes a backseat because who has time to de-clutter?
The grand result of this crazy little merry-go-round is burnout. That “I just can’t take another thing!” state of mind. So, we come home, kick the dog, yell at our loved ones and do-do-do until we collapse and start the cycle again. Many times we are not even aware of what is really going on because the “situation normal” IS living on autopilot and wandering around exhausted.
What is the answer? It can be found in a little known art form called – the art of elimination.
Before you can really take the hedge trimmers to your schedule and surroundings, though, you have to become aware of what “reality” is looking like for you these days. Let’s start with your schedule.
Take a look at your schedule and your to-do list.
- Are you trying to fit 30 hours of things in 24 hours of today?
- Do you set yourself up for failure because each day’s task list is so long that you don’t even stand a prayer of putting a sizable dent in it?
- Do you consistently under-estimate the amount of time it’ll take for you to complete client projects and then find yourself working into the wee hours?
If so, it is like trying to put 120 pounds of air in a bike tire designed for 100 pounds of air. You keep pumping frantically until — BANG! The tire finally blows out (and scares the crap out of you). YOU are much the same way.
Let’s look at the solution to this common problem.
Inner awareness shifts you must make to get off the hamster wheel:
- Give yourself permission to be human and slow down to the speed of life (If you think that equates to internet speed, go watch a plant grow and get in touch with the REAL speed of life).
- Embrace the fact that restorative time is of equal (or even greater) importance as time spent in action.
- Learn to get comfortable with the uncomfortable feeling that inevitably comes with change.
- Understand that the state of your physical environment directly supports or hinders your effectiveness and well-being. (Is it in a disarray of clutter? Is it visually appealing? Is there space in your environment to do what you need to do in it?)
- Reward your efforts along the way (stop waiting for the BIG win).
Now let’s look at some practical “can-do” solutions to creating space.
- Choose no more than 2-3 tasks to focus on each day.
- Start saying “NO”.
- Schedule in “down time” – time to be silent and contemplative as well as time spent just chilling and having fun.
- Double or triple the amount of time you think it will take you to complete a task and schedule appropriately.
- Go on a purging spree. If you haven’t used it in the last 6 months (unless it is a yearly seasonal item) — sell it, toss it, or donate it. This holds true for everything from papers in the office to files on the computer to clothes in your closet.
- Invest time in creating a system that works for you so you can find what you need when you need it within your filing systems. (Hint: it doesn’t have to take LONG and will yield huge dividends in productivity and sales.)
- Clean up. If you don’t have time to clean or don’t like to — hire someone to do it. A clean, scrubbed, well maintained space will yield dividends in terms of time, energy, and money.
- Rearrange the furniture. If you’re bored in your space, try rearranging things. Apply some feng shui principles if you’re so inclined. Sometimes the mere act of creating a new space can interject energy and opportunity into your life.
Don’t let creating some space be overwhelming to you — try a little bit of something a day. Even throwing out 10 things a day for 90 days can have a tremendous impact. Simply taking 20 minutes a day out of your schedule to be in silence or have downtime can leave you feeling more refreshed and renewed. Start with small steps and let the momentum build.
Your business, bottom line, and body – mind – spirit will thank you.