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Archive for Stress Management

 

Okay…..I can hear you now…..

 

”She’s crazy – Doesn’t she know that I’m a wife, a mom, I have a job, I have to keep everyone’s calendars straight, do homework with the kids, carpool, go shopping, cook dinner, go to PTA meetings, and watch my kid’s games!!” Just to name a few.

I hear you and I totally empathize.  But, here is what research is telling us.  Multitasking not only decreases our production, it makes it harder for us to finish tasks completely.  And because of our lack of focus and sloppy performance, our end products aren’t coming out as well as we’d like them to.   

People and projects need our undivided attention.  If I’m watching T.V., checking email and doing homework with my son, do you think I am really paying attention to the questions he is asking me?  Of course not!  Our minds are not wired to focus intently on multiple, important things at once. 

It’s become an epidemic…..the most famous “bad” example of course, is texting and driving….and we all know how tragic that has become.  What drives us to try and do so much at once?  We spin our wheels and still feel like our to-do lists are endless.  Here’s how to get off the roller coaster:

Learn to live in the moment.  Really listen when someone is talking to you.  How many times have you been distracted and had to have someone repeat themselves to you?  All that time adds up.  If you are doing something fun, enjoy that special time, don’t work on other things.  Being in the moment helps you create and solidify your memories.    

Concentrate upon the task at hand.  Set a timer if you have to – it really helps.  If you give your full attention to one task for 15 minutes, you will be amazed at your progress.  Don’t answer the phone or check a text.  Just focus!!

Dovetail rather than multitask.  An example of dovetailing is when you keep a project in your purse to work on while you are in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  Another example would be opening the mail or sorting through photos while watching T.V., or calling a friend while you’re waiting in the parking lot for practice to get over.  Use those countless chunks of wasted time to your advantage and see how they add up.  Keep a project bag in the back of your car for all of these occasions.    

Remember what multitasking is NOT!  Cleaning the kitchen while you are cooking a meal is just good planning, not multitasking.  Having a load of laundry going while you are cleaning the house is just smart time management.  Reading a book when you’re in the tub is just…..awesome relaxation. 

 

Teach yourself time-saving tricks.  If you have projects that you do often or annually, getting into routines will save you a lot of hassle.  For example emptying all the garbage cans on the day before the garbage truck comes and putting extra liners at the bottom of all the waste baskets so you never have to search for one. 

 

Here are two of my favorite time saving Christmas tricks:

 

Take pictures of your decorations each year.  If you loved the way your fireplace mantle turned out, snap a photo and when you put your decorations away, put all of those decorations in one box.  Label the box “fireplace” and tape a photo of it on either the outside of the box or the inside lid.  Next year the decorations with go up in half the time.  No thinking necessary.   

 

Rather than hand addressing all of your Christmas cards, put your addresses into your computer. Now click on Tools, then Letters and Mailings, then Envelopes and Labels. Next, type in all of your addresses and every year all you have to do is a quick update, put in your label sheets and hit print.  It saves a TON of time and they always look great. 

Have you ever said something less than kind to a family member or co-worker and felt ”guilty”? – that’s emotional clutter.  Maybe you have been hurt by someone and you have been holding on to “resentment” – emotional clutter.  Maybe a friend just gave you the most hideous gift ever, but you keep it because you don’t want to hurt her feelings and it would be “embarrassing” to tell her the truth – emotional and physical clutter.  You know what I’m talking about.  We all have something.

I’ve had my share of emotional clutter and there have been years at a time that I have let it bog me down and keep me from enjoying my life to the fullest.  I don’t like feeling that way and I am guessing you don’t either.  I have learned a few things on my clutter releasing journey and I hope some of my experiences will inspire you to let go of the things and thoughts that are holding you back in your life.

Lesson #1:  Emotional and physical clutter go hand-in-hand. We hold on to some interesting things.  This summer I went through a big box of high school memorabilia. Of course everything in the box was neatly organized and the box was even labeled, “Daniele’s Memorabilia”, so why not keep it forever?  It wasn’t taking up much space and after all they are my precious memories - right??  Well, a few are and a lot went bye-bye.

Read these statements and tell me if they sound familiar.

It’s been in my family for years!” “I might want to look at it for old times’ sake.”

“I am saving it for my children/grandchildren.”

“It was a gift.”

“It may be worth something some day.”

“But they aren’t making it anymore.”

“My high school boyfriend gave me that.”

Whatever item is in question, if it isn’t being honored or enjoyed, then it is cluttering up your home and your head!  Look around you. Do you love everything you see, or does some of it just stress you out? If someone took it, would you even notice it was gone?

Lesson #2:  Everything is a choice – choose to let go! As I went through my box I kept asking myself, ”Why am I keeping this?” My kids won’t care about this stuff when I am gone, in fact some of it might even be embarrassing.  Now, a few years ago, I wasn’t ready to let go of those things.  I wanted to remember (hold on to) my youth.  But, I finally realized that the person I was then, is not the person I am now, and I am glad.  Don’t get me wrong – I had fun as a teenager and I wasn’t an awful person, but I was a kid, making kid decisions.  A lot of the memories made me smile, but some of them were painful and it was time to let them go.  So, I tossed the dried up roses, some photos (yes photos – you can throw them away), and lots of notes and cards that meant nothing to me anymore.  Bottom line:  If it is taking up space and isn’t enhancing your life, it is CLUTTER – let it go!

Lesson #3:  Make room for the good stuff. Getting rid of any kind of clutter takes work, but emotional clutter takes some serious commitment.  I believe that we let go in layers.  Organizing your life is a ongoing process.  It is not all done at once, and then magically stays that way. You need to learn to sort out the useful from the burdensome, and motivate yourself to maintain the simplicity you are creating.

Practice letting go and get used to that lighter feeling.  Once you feel it, and realize how nice it is to make room in your life for what really matters, you will be hooked.  Memories can be wonderful, but the item you are attached to is not the person or event. I know that sounds obvious, but it doesn’t always feel that way.

Lesson #4:  Be patient with yourself and keep moving forward. My grandma died a few years ago, and I have a few items of hers that I treasure.  I love them because they were hers, but they are also useful in my home.  The year before she died I was going over to her apartment often to help her organize.  During the process I noticed she needed a tool box, so I bought her one and on the top I wrote, “Granny’s Tool Box”.  She really loved the gesture and that made me happy. After she died I brought the box home and I tried to use it on several occasions, but it just didn’t hold my things very well.  It was a little too big for what I needed, and of course it said, “Granny’s Tool Box” which I thought my clients might find a bit odd.

Well, it sat in my garage for a good two years and every time I looked at it I thought, “I really need to give that away”, but for some reason I wouldn’t let myself.  I felt guilty and sad (emotional clutter).  Then one day I had an older client (a grandma) who really needed a tool box, so I gave it to her.  It was that easy.  Someone had a need and it was no longer useful to me…I could finally let go.

Some of you may be thinking…come on it’s just a tool box!  Move on!  I get that, but having to go through it myself helps me understand why my clients have a hard time letting go of the box of drift wood from the beach, their grandma’s old sewing machine, the clothes of a loved one that has passed away……

I challenge you to open that box and see what you can let go of today.  Start small and then move on to the deeper attachments.  Give yourself permission to release your own emotional clutter. It is truly life changing!!

Sep
04

Are You Overwhelmed?

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Is your To-Do list too long?
 
Do you find it hard to say, “no”?
 
What or who is draining your energy?
 
Here are some synonyms for “overwhelmed”:  overcome, engulfed, flooded, inundated, overpowered, swamped, frantic, shut-down.
 
How do you know when you are overwhelmed? 
 
I know for me it is when I can’t think clearly, forget things, have anxiety, get moody, and just feel stuck. If you get too overwhelmed you can become frozen in your tracks. You don’t know what to do or how to do it…so you do “nothing”.  If this happens often, you can begin to dig a hole you feel you can’t get out of.
 
I recently took a class that dealt with just this topic. The woman teaching it was, Meggin McIntosh (The Ph.D. of Productivity).  She talked about feeling overwhelmed, but also underwhelmed; feeling frustrated, disappointed, lethargic and unfocused. What she encouraged us to reach for, was “just whelmed”.  She described “whelmed” as productive, energized, challenged and “in the zone”. Ahhh…to feel just whelmed…I like it!
 
What leads to feeling overwhelmed? 
  • Too much to do in the time available.
  • Too many different tasks, projects, and commitments.
  • Too many different people who are asking & expecting from you.
Dr. McIntosh described the difference between external and internal sources that can affect overwhelm.  The external sources we have no control over, like the weather, boring staff meetings, and other people. The internal sources we have a lot of control over, such as deciding how much information to keep in our head, procrastination, perfectionism, and unrealistic estimates on our time, money and energy.
 
She stated that if you want to move to a place of whelm, you have to learn how to leverage people, technology and your own strengths.  Here are some examples.
 
People – Delegate (i.e. at home everyone helps, or hire a student to run errands)
Technology - Turn off your phone (i.e. actually turn it off so you can work uninterrupted and check your email only at specified times each day)
Strengths – Build your inner strength (i.e. set boundaries and priorities, you don’t have to say yes to everyone, family is more important than volunteering for everything) 
 
So how can you diminish overwhelm?
  1. Recognize it for what it is.
  2. Have routines and systems in place.
  3. Set a timer for certain tasks, activities, and responsibilities and stick to it! 
  4. Hire out what you can.
  5. Do only what only you can do (i.e. decisions no one else can make). 
  6. Develop policies (i.e. Never say yes immediately.  Set a limit for the number of committees, lunches, and events you will attend in a week).
  7. Know what drains you and minimize that.
  8. Do what gives you energy.
  9. Ask for help (trust others).
  10. Go simple rather than complex.
  11. Be clear on priorities.
  12. Design a productive work environment.
  13. Know what you are already committed to (i.e. what have you already said yes to?)
Remember that when you are overwhelmed everything feels like a priority.  So, find an accountability partner and ask them for their perspective.  Don’t forget to carve out time for yourself and reflect on where you are in your life and what is really important to you. Reevaluate what’s working and what isn’t, and make the necessary changes to reach your state of “whelm”!   
 
“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time.  Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” 
~ M. Scott Peck 

  
If you are ready to create some “whelm” in your life, I can help.  Contact me for a free phone consultation and let’s talk about your needs.  Simplifying your daily routines and decluttering your surroundings is a great first step.