Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Breathe {inspiration for wednesdays}

Want to know a secret?  Sometimes I forget to "breathe"!  Sometimes I feel like there are not enough minutes in the day.  Sometimes I forget what is important and run around trying to fix the urgent.  Sometimes I need outside help to figure out a simple system that works for me.  And sometimes I feel like I can't say "no"!  There are days when all these forces swirl around me in a vicious whirlpool and the undertow is a force that I cannot successfully battle.

So what's a girl to do?  There are things that HAVE to get done...kids fed, laundry done, photos edited, phone calls returned, email checked...car-pool, groceries...well, you know...the list goes on and on and on.

There are a few tools I am using (and keep in front of me) to remind me not to enter the frenzied dance...and when I do, to help me get out of it.  I thought I'd share them with you....here is some "stuff" that helps me Breathe.

I keep this little piece of paper on my bulletin board, right in front of my face.  (In fact, you are seeing it almost like I am seeing it right now as I type this!!)  It is my "Yes List".  Because I have trouble saying no (yes, I am a people-pleaser), I let this list remind me of the things I should say yes to and therefore it gives me permission to say no the stuff that doesn't fit on this list...or at least lets me shout an emphatic WAIT while I regroup, breathe and evaluate whether or not I should say yes.

Right now I am in the middle of reading this lovely little book - The Power of Less.  It's subtitle is "the fine art of limiting yourself to the essential...in business and in life".  (Doesn't that sound delightful?)  While some of the advice doesn't fit, there is much that does and has helped me to think through how and what I do each day.  Plus, I love that it is not just for someone in the business world, there are lots of ideas I am using in everyday life.  (He also writes a blog called ZenHabits if you are interested.)

Here is a template of how I organize what I need to do each day.  (Do you see how technically savvy it is?!?!)  I found that I like to write things down, but I would write on numerous different pieces of paper and then I'd end up with sticky-notes all over my desk, and other little strips of paper falling all over.  Each morning I write down the 5 "Most Important Tasks" I need to do and focus on those first.  But I leave spaces for those "chunks" of activities that I can do together...email and calling...computer work...house stuff.  Then the back of the page is for any long term, creative, crazy or extra ideas I need to write down.

 My last tool for today is not a popular one...but I think it is important.  I have realized after many, many years that I am NOT a multi-tasker...and I don't really think anybody else is either.  Mulit-tasking is simply a nice way of saying and allowing us to be distracted.  When I multi-task I think I am getting more done, but really I am just giving a little attention to this person, then a little attention to a task I am trying to do, but I never really, WHOLE HEARTEDLY give myself to either thing.  I think people, tasks, and I get short changed when I try to operate in that mode. So...I try to focus on one thing at a time - giving my all to whatever is in front of me.  After all, who am I kidding?  I cannot be writing an email and playing with my children at the same time!!

Enjoy the tools...use the tools if they fit your life...find your own tools that help you live life without too much chaos...and in all of that, don't forget to Breathe!!

(By the way, if you have any good tools that you use....leave a comment.  I'd LOVE to hear what you have to say!)

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