Do you procrastinate?
I used to. It’s one of my natural tendencies. While I thrive on the pressure of deadlines, I also acknowledge the self-sabotaging behaviour of leaving things to the last minute. Over time I've made some positive changes to the way I do things. These days I'm better able to stay on top of what needs to be accomplished in any given day from both a business and personal perspective.
The first step to combat my chronic procrastination was to alter my mindset. In other words, I had to get my head in the game. I took an honest look at how my habits supported or stopped me from accomplishing what I set out to do. I gave some thought to my priorities and set myself up to succeed.
I got rid of negative routines like checking my email first thing in the morning before tackling some of the priority items on my daily 'To Do' list. I also learned not to beat myself up but instead encouraged myself to make some positive changes and to be open to shifting gears in a way that allowed me to accomplish the tasks at hand now, instead of later.
While I haven't conquered procrastination completely, here are some helpful tips I've picked along the way in my efforts to stop wasting time and get more done. I hope you too find them useful.
Don't let fear get in your way
Deal with fear by staying in the present. Remove the focus from yourself and onto what you need to accomplish. Take the time to prepare for the task at hand. Believe in yourself. Let go of expectations. Forge through the fear and take that first step. Move forward one step at a time. You gain confidence by experience. Don’t allow fear to hold you back – take action and see what happens.
Break down BIG projects
If you have a lot on your plate and you can’t delegate – break it down. Get the details out of your head and into a plan of action. Start with one small step you know you can do and then commit even as little as 10 or 15 minutes to get started. Take action. The key is to set yourself up so you can succeed one small step at a time.
Get advice from someone in the know
Don't remain frustrated. Instead seek the expertise of someone who can help. If you're unsure of what to do, call in someone who has some experience with the matter at hand. Don’t spin your wheels (and waste countless hours and energy) trying to figure something out yourself when you can seek help. Find the help you need and take action.
Delegate or motivate yourself with a timer
Stop putting things off simply because you hate doing them. Either delegate or commit to doing it and get it done ASAP. Set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and just dig in. Try to get your most dreaded tasks accomplished earlier in the day so they're behind you and you can move forward in a positive manner. Think of how great you'll feel once your task is behind you.
Focus on the key action steps
Take an honest look at what you need to achieve today and what actions you must take in order to accomplish all you need to do. Keep it simple. Focus on your primary action steps and don’t allow yourself to get side tracked.
Take it one step at a time
When you focus completely on the goal at hand, you increase your efficiency 100 percent. Set a time limit for your task, accomplish it and move on. We are more productive when we are working against the clock. Setting time limits and adhering to them will be a work in progress but it's well worth the effort once you see the improvement you’re making.
Keep moving forward
Unlike standing still, taking action propels you forward. Sometimes it may feel like you're taking one step forward and two steps back but it is movement nonetheless. Keep going. Be consistent. Don't give up and start procrastinating again. The more consistent action you take, the better the results.
Make yourself a priority
You're important. Practice self-care by giving yourself permission to take breaks and to rejuvenate between tasks. Decide on how long your breaks will be and what form they'll take. Pushing through when you're exhausted is counterproductive. Regular exercise and a good night’s sleep needs to be a priority. It's easy to procrastinate when we're tired and run down. Instead pace yourself by taking frequent breaks but be discipline to get back to the task at hand once the break is over.
Pick one task and get started
Select a task you’ve been putting off like clearing the clutter from your dining room table that has become a catch all for everyone’s stuff. Set a timer and get moving. Trust me, you’ll feel great when the nagging task is a thing of the past.
What have you been putting off?
Have I inspired you to take action?
If so, what is your first task or project you're going to tackle?
Please comment below.
Are your evenings a blur of extra curricular activities, household chores, and getting ready for the next day?
You’re not alone.
Meltdowns – they happen more often than not on weeknights and during the most challenging part of the day when we’re juggling schedules, dinner prep, chores and homework. The cause of the meltdowns is simple – family members are after tired, hungry and irritable at the end of a long day.
But what’s a family to do?
Following are some weeknight survival tips for families who have had enough of weeknight chaos and are looking to make some simple yet positive changes.
GET ON SCHEDULE
First off, you need to backtrack. Getting behind schedule is a major factor to weeknight dilemmas. The problem is we often miscalculate how long it takes to do something and to travel from point A to point B.
Work in reverse
If you begin with the end in mind you can usually figure out what it will take to meet your deadline. For instance, if your kids have an 8:30 p.m. bedtime, you’ll want to make sure dinner is finished by 6:30, the food needs to be prepared and on the table by 6 p.m. Factor in sufficient time for homework, chores, and extra curricular activities and if your kids are really young – bedtime stories.
Add a cushion
No, I’m not talking about a sofa cushion – sitting on one too early in the evening will slow down your productivity and can actually add to your stress. There will be time for relaxing later. What I’m referring to is a time cushion – a buffer if you will, where you guard yourself against the worst-case scenario. By factoring in a 10 to 20 percent time cushion you’re better able to deal with the unexpected.
Have a game plan
Spend some time on the weekend planning for the week ahead. A good weekday/weeknight game plan includes menu planning for weekday meals (including school lunches and having a plan for when you're going to shop), reviewing what's on the family calendar and possible batch cooking for the week ahead.
Don't let others hold you up
Not allowing others slow you down can be challenging especially when you run into chatty co-workers or friends in the grocery store on the way home. One of the most effective things to do is to pull out your car keys, wave the keys, take a step back and say, “It’s been nice talking to you but I’ve got to run.”
Weeknight efficiency is all about staying on task and keeping to a schedule that works. Try not to get too distracted by things that come up but when they do, just try get back on track as quickly as possible.
Outsourcing at home can be as beneficial as it is at the office.
Adding another pair of hands into the mix can make a huge difference to the ease of your weeknights. Delegating can be as simple as having an older child play with a younger sibling while you’re making dinner, getting help folding the laundry, or having your spouse or child walk the dog.
Depending on your family situation you may want to consider outsourcing to a neighbouring teen who would appreciate the odd baby sitting or dog walking job.
Get your kids into the routine of using labeled folders to organize permission slips, homework, tests etc. so you can relax and review their paperwork after dinner when things have calmed down.
“I’ve got to do…”
Do you really? Granted there are times when you really need to do things like laundry but often we add unnecessary stress by just feeling we’ve got to do something when it really doesn’t need to be done just then.
Sometimes if you can shift things around to a time when you’re more clearheaded and not as tired, you can be much more productive even if it means getting up an extra 15 to 20 minutes earlier to throw the laundry into the dryer or make lunches.
“I can’t survive without multitasking.”
Can you survive the stress caused by forcing your brain to try to do two things at once? You see, trying to do too many things at the same time impedes our efficiency. Sure something simple like preparing veggies and chatting about your kid’s day is one thing but more involved tasks cooking dinner, folding clothes and helping your kids with their homework, or any tasks that have you running back and forth is counterproductive and unhealthy.
“Electronics save my sanity.”
Electronics as a whole do little to ease daily stress. In fact, studies have proven just the opposite is true. Spending too much time on your computer, cell, or watching TV can ramp up your anxiety level and is a prime distraction away from what should be your priority – your family.
Do yourself and your family a favor - don’t text or answer your cell, check your email, or zone out in front of the TV during weeknight family time. Also consider the example you're setting if you don't.
So having said the above, what are you going to do to simplify your weeknights?
If things are running along nicely most weeknights do you have an pearls of wisdom you would like to share?
I welcome your comments below.
We all have things in life we want. Some of these things maybe dreams while others are goals. The difference between the two lies in our action or inaction.
For years, I collected books on simplifying and rarely cracked a cover. Instead, I let the books pile up and collect dust. Why did I buy them in the first place?
I was tired, overwhelmed and wanted to simplify my life but not to the extent I was ready and willing to actually make it happen.
I was too busy and caught up in the here and now to take any steps to turn my dream of a slower, more fulfilled life into reality.
Instead, I continued along with the everyday. Days full of activity and responsibilities with a few healthy self-care habits spread here and there that made me a happy yet not I was taking any real action toward what I desired most.
Can you relate? Is there something in your life you play lip service to but find yourself not taking action on?
What's wrong with this picture? It boils down to the simple fact that talk is easy, action is not.
I had to figure out what was holding me back. I knew what I wanted; I just didn't know how to get there.
For me, it was a personal health scare (and no doubt in part, also turning fifty) that brought about some soul-searching. The time to make some positive changes in my life was now.
First, I needed to clear myself of everything that was holding me back. I needed to find a way to let go of the heavy stuff that had been weighing me down. I had to take an honest look at my daily habits and routines. What was working and what wasn’t. What was positive going forward and what was holding me back. In short, I needed to open myself up to new experiences, opportunities and be willing to establish new habits and routines, and get rid of the old.
Before I could make any external moves in the direction I desired, I had to take the internal action of exploring what I needed and wanted. Personal reflection gave me the answers. I walked and sat in quiet until I knew what it was I needed to do.
It was only when I took an honest look at was holding me back did I find clarity and coupled with that, the ability to clear the stuff that had been getting in my way.
While I didn't personally have an outward abundance of material items to free myself from, I did have to explore why I was continuing to do nothing towards what I claimed to want.
Coaching and supporting others in their goal of removing the unnecessary in their lives comes naturally but when it came to looking at my clutter, it was a real challenge.
For me, clutter was found in day-to-day busyness and a jam-packed schedule. Somehow I ended up filling my life of unimportant stuff. So much of the important stuff rarely saw the light of day.
Sure my life was organized and I regularly practiced self-care. I am a professional organizer and life coach, after all. I had neatly organized closets, cupboards and storage shelves full of stuff; lots of family and friends whom I would make the time to get together with on a regular basis but I was also putting everyone else's needs above my own.
Can you relate? Many women can as it is our nature to nurture.
It was only after I took an honest look at what was holding me back and causing so much dissatisfaction, was able to move forward, set a game plan and take action.
I admit it isn’t easy. I’m a work in progress. I still have a lot to learn but by going inside myself and exploring both the negative and positive, and by accepting not ignoring the feelings I have, I'm able to stop the habitual cycle of my negative actions.
By addressing my internal needs, concerns and acknowledging my feelings; I have gained wisdom and the knowledge that some of my negative feelings were actually causing my actions or as it were, inaction. By ignoring these feelings I would have continued spending more time on the negative.
It’s only in letting go, am I able to move forward. To free and unburden myself of the unnecessary so I can focus on the necessary.
In quiet, I continue to learn how to better direct to myself. How to continue go right not left, as I travel the paths of my life.
Through mindfulness and meditation I'm learning how to align my conscious and subconscious mind and break the negative patterns that I had lived with for so long.
If I truly want different results, I have to stop doing the same things over and over again.
Today I’m focusing on 'exclamation mark' living. I want to live my best life and encourage others to do the same. To make changes first in mindset then in lifestyle via a commitment to change, as well as the discipline and consistency it takes to get there.
I honestly believe living outside your comfort zone is the best way to grow and achieve. Staying within the safety and comfort of old habits will do little to increase your happiness or propel you forward.
Align your heart, mind and actions; and positive things will happen.
Stop wasting time gathering ideas of things you want to try like recipes, crafts and DIY projects (e.g. the ones you collect on Pinterest boards but never do), and start taking action today on the things that speak to you and move you in the direction of achieving your bigger goals.
Make the time for self-evaluation. Really listen to your internal self - your needs and desires, your strengths and weaknesses. Trust that you have your own best answers.
Start today to live your priorities and stop living against your values.
Remember, a goal without action isn’t really goal at all.
What are you waiting for?
What kind of balance are you looking for? Do you feel the need to declutter or do you want to minimize?
To me, simple living is all about ease and freedom. Personally, I’m a work in progress. I have a house full of organized stuff and while I keep it reasonably decluttered, I still feel the need to minimize.
Part of my journey in simplifying my life has been inspired by my work as a professional organizer; and by the experience I’ve had with helping and encouraging clients to pare down their belongings to only what's most important.
By working with people of varies ages, incomes and backgrounds; I’ve learned just as much from them as I hope they've learned me.
Each client has his or her challenges but they all had one main thing in common when they first reached out to me - they were experiencing some level of overwhelm. They were typically either drowning in clutter or were ‘crazy’ busy with responsibilities and lacked the necessary time/priority management skills to get off the treadmill of their life. Regardless of their personal back story they needed to regain some balance.
Most people who reach out to me admit to feeling both full yet empty. They’re exhausted and worn out from trying to keep up with the day-to-day yet feel empty and unhappy with all the stuff in their lives, be it excess material possessions or jam-packed schedules.
While spending my days helping other people deal with the physical and emotional clutter that is weighing them down can be personally rewarding, it can also be physically exhausting and emotionally draining when I don't take my own advice and keep my own life in check.
This is one of the main reasons why I decided to proclaim this year as one of change. In order to take care of my own wellbeing and better serve my clients, my own life needs to be free and simple. I needed to go one step beyond decluttering and actually minimize it.
Even as a professional that works in the field of organizing, it is taken me some time to recognize the importance as well as the difference between 'decluttering' and 'minimizing'.
To declutter is to remove unnecessary items from an untidy or overcrowded place.
Clutter itself is defined as scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.
On the other hand, to minimize is to reduce or keep to a minimum.
Minimalism therefore is a style characterized by extreme simplicity.
So, where do you fit in to the above? Do you want to remove the unnecessary from a busy home and calendar or, do you wish to make your life super simple with only a select few possessions?
Most people fall somewhere in the middle, like me.
While I don't aim to live a minimalistic lifestyle, I do wish to live simple one. One that is intentional and balanced based on my own personal values and priorities. I wish the same for my clients. I never direct or instill my own values but instead educate and encourage them to find their own answers within themselves.
Creating a simple and less stressful life doesn't happen overnight. That said, with each passing day I find it's easier to transition between work and home life activities because of some of the simple things I've put into practice in my own life.
Each day I strive to replace negative habits with positive ones. I take the time to both meditate and practice yoga. I’m also in the process of simplifying my personal daily ‘to do’ list, my wardrobe as well as my family menu plan. (I will be writing more about these things and future posts).
Give some thought today about what you can do to improve the balance of your day-to-day. Maybe you can take some small steps forward towards a simpler, less stress filled life.
I would start in one room or one corner of a room and declutter some surface stuff. Box up the items you no longer want and then make a decision as to what you want to do with those items. Ask yourself two simple questions.
Do I need this?
Why do I have this?
Let the answers guide you to your next steps.