When you get to the end of a full day and haven’t been able to cross anything off of your To Do list, its normal to feel bad, or that you “should” have been able to get more done. It can be challenging to successfully balance competing demands for your time, often leading to overwhelm, anxiety, frustration and health issues.
What’s worse, you already know the time management and leadership strategies you “should” be using, but they don’t seem to help when you’re in this situation.
Instead, break this cycle by first identifying and separating any “voices in your head” that may be preventing you from utilizing the leadership strategies that can then help you to move you forward.
A client of mine – a leader in her field – recently observed herself not starting in on a large and complex planning project. This apparent paralysis was weighing heavily on her, and her negative self-talk began questioning why she couldn’t “just” begin. We worked through a 4-step process to help her begin to release this pattern and move forward.
This process works for all situations where you’re feeling “stuck,” or you’ve lost control of your schedule, don’t have time/balance, aren’t delegating, and are beating yourself up about it!
Be Sherlock: Notice & Observe. Look for clues and patterns about what’s (really) going on.
Try these 4 Steps to help reveal some answers:
- Do a body Scan. How are you feeling in your BODY? Does that FEELING – not the situation – feel familiar from past experiences? Can you recall where and when you’ve felt those feelings before? (For many people, when difficult situations occur in the present, they trigger RE-actions that are based from past experiences, that often are no longer relevant.)
- Flip it. How does not taking action at that moment actually HELP you? (Sometimes not jumping into a project may actually mean that you are still gathering information, processing or percolating on ideas. It may be that you sense there is a more impactful way of addressing a problem. You may actually be in a “Phase 1” of your process.
- Learn from your past. When you’ve felt stuck/overwhelmed before… what was the ultimate outcome? Did you get “un-stuck?” How? Did you meet the deadline? Was the project successful in the end? How did you accomplish it? (We all have unique ways we tackle things. Some people are better starting their day tackling projects, others get unstuck late at night. Your job is to identify what works for you, and value and honor the unique way you work.)
- Tap into your True Value. We all have deadlines and tasks that need to get done. But what is the impact you are actually seeking from checking off your To Do list? Your value to others is deeper than a list of tasks. What problems are you aiming to solve through your work? What will the impact be when you solve them? (Elevating the task at hand to its impact on others can offer a big shot of motivation, as well as reveal where your time and talent are most needed.)
Then, and only then, can time management strategies, delegation, and other ways of “taking charge” be successful and empowering.
I know these challenges first hand.
I’ve learned that when I’m writing, especially on deadline, getting past the initial blank page can be paralyzing. In the past, I would have been frustrated, even questioned whether or not I’m cut out for the job at hand, procrastinated, etc., etc. At the same time, I noticed how fast and focused I was in editing other people’s writing.
After thinking about this, I figured out that all I have to do is quickly write something on that initial foreboding blank screen – an outline, a sentence, an intention – it doesn’t actually matter as long as there are characters on the page. I then print it out or send it to myself in an email, so that when I open it, I go into “editing” mode, and I’m off and running!
But it works for me! No voices in my head, no paralyzing moments.
I invite you to think about your To Do list, and imagine what it might feel like to remove all the negative judgements and “shoulds” you may be thinking – and instead, move to action: either naming your being “stuck” as a strategic phase, or delegating, or moving your schedule around, or doing whatever is necessary for you to create the “causes and conditions” you need to do your best work.
As you know from my previous blogs – we NEED you to be doing your best work, helping others, feeling joy, having the impact you are meant to have.
To your success,
P.S. – I love hearing from you. Let me know how you’re removing the “shoulds” and getting unstuck!