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Living La Vida Loca

“On the highway of life, you can’t always be in the fast lane.”

Ever felt as though time is – quite literally – running away with you?

Speed restrictions ahead…

What is it with those periods of life that sweep in like a jaw-dropping, turbo charged supercar, make us stop dead in our tracks – and then throw us into complete disarray?

Because no matter how carefully you plan ahead, no matter how you schedule like a demon, nor how organised you may think you are – there’s just no avoiding them sometimes. “Sh@t happens!” ( – as they say in the vernacular).

An unexpected flood of events or important emails needing urgent attention; a request from the Boss that drops into your lap without warning; a nagging phone; ongoing family and home demands that simply won’t disappear when Monday morning arrives; a forgotten lunch date with someone you can’t easily re-schedule; after work commitments…the list goes on and on.

(Cue Ricky Martin at full blast…)

Well recently I succumbed to La Vida Loca myself.

A slight health hiccup (necessitating several trips to the doctor, assorted scans and unplanned time in waiting rooms etc), combined with business and home demands, several family Birthday celebrations one on top of the other, writing deadlines and assorted other commitments conspired to bring me to a screeching halt one day.

There simply weren’t enough hours in the day to look after myself and service the needs of everyone else around me. You’ve been there, right? But what to do?

Cue a bit of positive self talk and recourse to some self Coaching.

Less than an hour later, I’d managed to settle back into a productive, balanced mindset, and was really thankful that I’d had the foresight to give myself this much needed little pep talk.

…and so can you with a little awareness of what’s triggering your elevated sense of urgency and overload. Tip? There’s no need to be a prisoner to this passing state of mind!

So here’s a suggestion. The next time your day starts off with a deep seated feeling of anxious expectation  – maybe you’ll be sitting at your desk one morning staring anxiously at your endless ‘to-do’ list, or travelling feverishly to that first appointment, or even rolling out of bed and already feeling as though you need to pack way too much in before sunset, then you can confidently move down a few gears. I’ve got you covered:

Here’s the acronym that will help you S M A S H it all like a BOSS;

(S) STOP!

You know the feeling at the start of a busy day? Slightly elevated heart rate, endless procrastination. Pacing. Heading for (yet) another coffee to kill time. Chatting a bit too long to your partner or a friend, engaging in small, time wasting activities that are getting you nowhere fast (er? Social Media?)…these are all signs you have lot to do and don’t know where the hell to start.

So stop everything and breathe. Still your mind. Sit quietly for a few minutes, or put that shower time to good use.

Let’s start with a clear head.

(M) MAKE A LIST.

When you’ve come down a gear or two, make a simple list. On paper or your Smartphone. Spend five minutes doing nothing other than writing down the things that were spinning in your head a few minutes ago. Get them down and visible.

(A) ASSESS.

Now spend another five minutes going over the same list. With a highlighter pen, I want you to pick out just THREE things that are your absolute priorities for today. Just three. What are they? (They’re likely to be shouting out from the page).

Now highlight another 3 to 5 things that you consider less important, but still fairly urgent ( – meaning that you will do them ONLY if you have time today). Typically these tasks can each be done in 20 minutes or so.

Finally; identify your ‘Five Minute Wonders’. These are the quick fire things you can slot around everything else in your day. For example, a quick call to change an appointment time.  Or a two line email to thank someone. Or a note to a colleague to delegate something low-key. The trick with FMW’s is to spot them and do them immediately – just  zap them! Boom!

(S) SCHEDULE.

Now I want you to schedule time/day slots for the remaining urgent items on your original list. If you use a diary –  move them to that. If you schedule using an App, then transfer them to that. If you use my ‘Mission Control Board’  (see my earlier post) then write them on that.

Ps I don’t want to encourage procrastination here! Remember that you’re dealing with a day that is starting from a point of OVERLOAD. When we are overloaded, we need to see the wood for the trees. That simply means re-scheduling a few things to a slightly later time slot.

(H) High Five Yourself!

Look if you don’t, who else will?! Congratulations on making sense of a crazy day. Starting with a logical flow to things is going to help you get a whole lot more done. So, grab yourself a well deserved coffee, fire up your work device of choice and let’s get cracking! You can do this!

Remember the acronym from the checklist above? Go on!

“S.M.A.S.H. IT!”

Call to action!

When life feels a bit unwieldy and supercharged, be sure to sort out your priorities. Complete one specific task at a time to the very best of your ability. Try a maximum of three significant tasks per day to feel more accomplished  – and less frazzled!

What’s your secret for life in the fast lane?

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