Too much: Stuff. To Dos. Shouldas. Couldas.
Not enough: Time. Resources. Information. Even, Love.
Overwhelmed at work? Need a life hack? Start with the idea of enough. As in whatever you do today, however much you love today, wherever you live with whatever stuff, and whatever you know right now, is enough. Us women have a particularly hard time with embracing enough into our lives, especially while "balancing" family and career demands.
Sitting with the idea of enough doesn’t mean you get lazy, and readily excuse yourself for the binge watch of House of Cards that took you away from whatever else you promised yourself to do. What it does mean, is start with clarity. Define boundaries and understand that to optimize your business, website, and well, life, means that you are always coming from a place of limited resources, because we are all human, but also unlimited possibility, because we are all human.
Understand that all this choice you’ve been craving and demanding leads to more stress than before you had the options, every time.
What works for me is to constantly prioritize and optimize (small change adds up!) within the understanding that there will always be 3 limited resources to balance:
Understand that to maximize is a myth. You cannot maximize your time, you can only optimize it. You cannot truly multi-task, but you can do several things at once if you understand that only one of those things will get done well, and none excellent. Even if you had all the money in the world to throw at a problem, you may not have the right information to solve it. It is liberating, albeit paradoxical, to discover the boundaries we all operate in. Even Richard Branson has to choose how to spend his time: kiteboarding with the naked supermodel, check! That meant he had to say no to something else. What’s the last thing that you took a stand on with a No?
How to do it all? First and most importantly, you need what I call the "breathing room" to take a moment to see it all from a 20,000 foot view. Very few people I know have this discipline. Promise to yourself that in that moment, for 15 minutes in the morning while enjoying a vista and your cup of joe, or a physical re-boot through exercise, you will live fully and let all other concerns just move through you. Some people meditate, and I commend those people. I haven’t found that sweet spot; it’s not a strength of mine. What I’ve found is allowing my brain to have the deep breath in order to make the connections that naturally form with room; it gives me perspective. Then, prioritizing (aka limiting choice to what is important) becomes second nature and the constant change of todays demands are no longer stressful. This is actually a creative exercise and it takes practice. It’s art disguised as work, and many times messy. It may not work the first, or even seventh time, but make it a habit to give yourself the gift of breathing room everyday and everything slowly comes into focus. Then, once your etch-a-sketch scatter brain has been gently reset, sit back down and take that deep dive back into the stuff with your priority machete. I do this in three ways that run concurrently:
- by using my "external brain," i.e. google and iphone calendar to see what is on deck in a detailed way for the day; plus use it as a tool not just for the necessary appointments, but also to put aside blocks of time for consistent creative work (every weds morning, a 2-3 hour window is blocked off and not defined. Email and returning messages is not allowed during that time.)
- my weekly planner as a pen and paper exercise create calm as to what is on the horizon, including work, family obligations, taking care of my body, and PLAY! You *must* actually write it down for it to work. It will do no good in your head or saved as a google doc. Print it out and use a pencil to write it down.
- and my vision for the year, and beyond, as a pure strategic vision exercise (using pick 4 as the tool), gets bounced off my advisory board and trusted entrepreneurial friends on a semi-annual basis.
When’s the last time the mire of "too much this, and not enough that" got to you? What is the discovery that got you through?