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Clear As Mud?

Think you might be just a little unclear at times? Feel like there’s just too much going on? Listen to this podcast for a bit of help in 5 to 8 minutes Clarity May 30 2013

Or read on:

Sue West and I have joined together as the Design Your Days Duo for this series of audio interviews to give you short, “use today” pieces of advice, in 5 to 8 minutes.

Carol: Last time we spoke about Clarity as it relates to becoming better organized and Designing Your Days. When we get clear, we open ourselves up to the possibilities that are often hidden just below the surface.

Sue: And we feel that this topic deserves round two- going a little deeper. We’d like to share some A-HA moments we’ve been hearing from the clients who have begun the Design Your Days’ time management framework with us.

Carol: When we work with someone in the Design Your Days framework, we ask, What Gets in Your Way? This is the first step in seeking clarity. Listen to the some answers we have been hearing and ask yourself, “Does this relate to me?”

Sue:    My husband! My employees! My children!

Carol:             Interruptions!

Sue:    Money. Not enough. Worried about it.

Carol: Clients.

Sue:    Me.

Carol:             I get in my own way.

Sue:    My unproductive ways of thinking about what I have to do. Or not believing I can do it up to standards. Always tired… easily distracted.

Carol: Listeners, what did you hear? How does this relate to YOU? Sue and I have four examples around Getting Clear as a strategy to determine WHAT GETS IN YOUR WAY that might relate to you. So then, what gets in YOUR way?  First things first: Create an inventory. What are the top three things you can identify that Get in Your Way of Designing Your Days? Are three not enough? Keep going. Allow yourself up to 10 bullet items.

Sue: Now, take those top three and answer these questions about each one of them.

  1. Which are IN my control? Which are about ME and my ways – strengths and all.
  2. Which are OUT of my control? This is a difficult question, because it often means you’ll need to let go of controlling something or someone you cannot control.
  3. Which event did I THINK was out of my control, but afterwards, when I thought more about it, and gained some perspective I realized: I could have reacted, behaved or done something differently, producing a different outcome?

Carol and I will each provide two examples of what we have heard for issues and what you might do if this is YOUR challenge.

Carol: Let’s get specific. At work, I hear much about interruptions getting in the way. What do those interruptions look like? Clients, co-workers, subordinates. So many of us have ascertained that the way to get more work done is to avoid entering the office. If this sounds like you, get specific about the interruption. For example, if it’s a phone interruption, and you are not the one answering the phone, communicate to the phone answerer what you will be interrupted for, and what you will not be interrupted for. Although YOU may not have the luxury of having someone else answer your office phone, you can still make smart decisions about answering it. Give yourself blocks of time. Is the only way to complete the proposal really at home? Consciously creating a block of uninterrupted time will allow the same result to happen – a completed proposal. And, if you are a manager, you are not only setting personal boundaries, but are leading by example.

Sue: A second issue that’s pretty common is this: “I’m so tired at night,” whether it’s after a day of managing household and children or working somewhere else, or working for yourself. “I’m so tired at night, that I don’t do the things I need or WANT to do. I relax or watch TV or get on Facebook.”  Here are some ideas:

One goal could be to even out your energy. So if you have intense days, what could make them less intense, preserving some energy for your “real life,” when you get home. Look at things like:

Who takes more than their fair share of your energy – and what can you do about this?

What tasks take up too much energy? Can you drop any? Hire for them or delegate? Break up so they get done in a week instead of a day for example.

A common energy drain is not having enough decompression time between work and home life. This is very common with people who work out of their home, because there’s no commute! So could you take a walk, call a friend, journal for 15 minutes, or take yoga on the way home – whatever can recharge your batteries.

Also look at how you start your day: Are you taking care of you? Giving yourself energy or starting off with something that needs high energy? And then you crash later …

An easy way to handle this is to observe yourself for a few days and write down or track on your phone what happens.

Carol: Our third “What gets in your way” at work? “Not enough time to do all my work”

When I hear this, I find that these professionals have a tendency to OVERBOOK THEMSELVES. If you are an airline selling seats, this strategy works well. However, if you are a manager or consultant, not so much.  Our clients are important to us. They are the reason we are in business and we are here to serve them. But what happens when we overschedule? What happens when our calendar is maxed out…then the unexpected happens? A weather event, a long meeting, a critical message coming in that was not pre-mediated but IS IMPORTANT to be dealt with immediately)? Our world starts crashing in on us, and we feel out of control. We may think that we are not cut out to be organized, or that we do not have enough
control over our days to design them. But how much did we allow, by Overbooking? By NOT ALLOWING “white space” between appointments? A solution to consider: the 30 minute rule. Allow 30 minutes between appointments for traffic, note taking, phone calls/messages, and to prepare for your next client. That time may need to be adjusted for YOU, but try on this strategy for 30 days, and see what happens.

Sue:

Our last one we hear often is “I get so easily distracted.” There are so many reasons for this we can’t deal with all of them today. What we CAN do is have you ask yourself:

When ARE you focused, even if it’s for 10 or 15 minutes? What is that like? How do you get there? Maybe you get all your materials ready first – phone numbers, papers, files – whatever you need. Maybe you light a candle, play TED talks or listen to quiet music? Maybe it’s somewhere in your house that’s not right at your desk, if you work out of the home. Shutting your door for 15 minutes. Setting a timer.

Many strategies but the key is: what has worked for you before, even if it felt like a small thing. Can you take that and build up a longer set of time you’ll focus? Then TAKE that break, recharge, and go back to your list for the next thing.

Carol:

As a reminder, you are listening to a podcast series. We’d love your feedback.  If you have a question you’d like answered, please visit our new Facebook page called Design Your Days. If you’d like to add yourself to the successful professionals we help go from good to great, contact one of us to get started with personal coaching. We’ll help you become more AWARE, and kick off the transformational process of Designing Your Days.

We are also the co-creators of the Design Your Days framework, which we teach in workshops, so if your group of business owners is ready for us to speak at your group, please contact one of us!

You can find us on Facebook as Design Your Days or contact us individually through websites:

Sue’s is www.OrganizeForAFreshStart.com

Carol’s is http://www.efficientproductivity.com/

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