I wrote a post a few weeks ago about time management that I was pretty proud of. I got some awesome feedback and encouraging words from people that I hold in really high regard. But one note stuck out among the rest that has stayed with me and really made me think about the advice I shared. The comment was something like “that sounds nice, but that just isn’t where I am right now. There is no way with children/life that I could possibly do that.”
Ouch. While I definitely know that not every idea is good for everyone, being shown the “yeah, but” about something that I felt so passionate about made me step back.
Each of us approaches what we do from where we are – our life stage, our circumstances, etc. I approach what I do from the stage I’m in – married, a daughter in high school and one in elementary school, independent professional. I have been in other life stages (single, newlywed, new babies, 9-5 job). My prior experiences, education and training certainly let me speak into circumstances that I’m not currently in. But, where I am now definitely influences how I approach my life and my role as a coach.
So, what if you are at that point where your goals and dreams don’t meet you where you are? Your stage in life and circumstances don’t jive with having it all together. Your road map is a spaghetti bowl of ideas and daily conflicts all jumbled up. Yeah, Natalie. What then?
Ok…so here is the tough love part. You have to learn to prioritize. You have to learn the difference between an urgent priority and an important priority. They may sound the same but they are very, very different. Important priorities are the ones you have on your list. You spend time thinking about them, writing them down. Urgent are those priorities that take you off track and pull your attention away from those important ones. The key in aligning your goals and priorities is to do your absolute best to minimize your “urgents” so you can focus on your “importants”.
Well, what the heck does that mean, Natalie? My whole life is “urgent” right now!
I know – I get it. But to move forward, there has to be a shift in the way you see each daily “urgent” interruption. What are your main interruptions? Kids? Phone and email? Family? TV? Even seemingly good things like exercise can become out of balance if we aren’t careful.
So what do you do? Give your kids away? Go off the grid? No. (Although moving to a remote island with no phone or email sounds pretty awesome sometimes!)
First – go in a room where you won’t be interrupted for about 10 minutes. Bedroom, office, bathroom. Wherever you can hide. Now make a list of your interruptions. I mean all of them. What are your “urgents” during the day. If they are your kids, name them on your list.
After you make your list, I want you to rank them from 1-10. 1 being “I can eliminate this distraction immediately” to 10 being “This will always be urgent and I can’t ignore it”.
Think specifically about each one ask yourself if the ranking you are giving it is truly accurate. And once you have your list, its time to get to work.
First things first, deal with the 1’s. Just make them gone. They are just eating away at your time, your nerves, your progress. If it is something like phone or email, decide how you are going to schedule that in your day. Will you check email twice a day? At what time? Will you only answer calls from certain people during certain hours of the day? What about social media? Is that killing your day?
Next, tackle the two’s, threes, etc., until you get to the point where you can’t slice and dice anymore. What’s left are truly your “urgents” and you will have to live with those.
But if you go through this exercise, you will see where the “yeah, but” might turn into a “maybe so” or “I can make a step”.
It only takes one step – even a baby step – to get you moving in the direction you want to go. Just one. And if you can eliminate things that are your pitfalls and diversions, it makes your path a lot clearer. And, as always, if you need a little help figuring it all out, I’m just a phone call away.
Love to all and have a great week!