Do you feel too rushed to do what matters most to you?
Do you have more to do than ever -- with less time to do it?
Do you answer the simple question: How're you doing? with a frazzled... CrazyBusy?
Being too busy can become a habit so entrenched that it leads you to postpone or cut short what matters most to you, making you a slave to a lifestyle you don't like but can't escape. In part, it is the desire for control that leads people to lose it. Modern life makes us feel as if we can be everywhere and do everything, and gives us the magical tools to heighten the illusion. Then even though you're doing well, you're successful and you enjoy life, you feel frustrated at how hard you have to struggle to keep up with all your commitments, opportunities, deadlines, and messages. So if you're looking for a way to survive in this ultra-competitive, ultra-fast, attention deficit society and remain sane, then I offer these 10 tips to managing modern life:
1. Do what matters most to you (the most common casualty of an excessively busy life):
Don't spread yourself too thin -- you must choose, you must prioritize. In order to both do well and to be happy, you must say, "No thank you," to many projects, people and ideas. "Cultivate your lilies and get rid of your leeches."
2. Create a positive emotional environment wherever you are:
When the emotional atmosphere is less than positive, people lose flexibility, the ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity, trust, enthusiasm, patience, humor, and creativity. When you feel safe and secure, you feel welcomed and appreciated, you think better, behave better, and are better able to help others.
3. Find your rhythm:
Get in the "zone," follow your "flow" -- this state of mind elevates all that you do to its highest level. When you find your rhythm, you allow your day to be taken care of by the automatic pilot in your brain, so the creative, thinking part can attend to what it is uniquely qualified to attend to.
4. Invest your time wisely so as to get maximum return:
Try not to let time be stolen from you or let yourself fritter it away -- use a time value assessment to guide you in what to add, preserve, cut back on, and eliminate.
5. Don't waste time screen-sucking (a modern addiction -- the withdrawal of looking at a computer/BlackBerry/etc. screen):
Break the habit of having to be near your computer at all times by changing your environment or structure -- move your screen to a different room, schedule an amount of time you are allowed to be on the computer, plan mandatory breaks. Do whatever you have to do to break the habit.
6. Identify and control the sources of gemmelsmerch in your environment:
Gemmelsmerch, the force that distracts a person from what he or she wants to or ought to be doing, is as pervasive and powerful as gravity. Some sources of gemmelsmerch are: email, texts, phone, magazines, mail, cell phones, TV, mess in your office -- anything that distracts you from the task at hand.
Delegate what you don't like to do or are not good at if you possibly can. Your goal should be not to be independent, but rather effectively interdependent. You do for me and I do for you -- this is what makes life possible.
8. Slow down:
Stop and think. As yourself, what's your hurry? Why wake up, already impatient, and rush around and try to squeeze in more things than you should, thereby leading you to do all of it less well? Your hurry is your enemy.
9. Don't multitask ineffectively (avoid frazzling):
Give one task your full attention. You will do it better. You may eventually get so good at it that your conscious mind can attend to other aspects of the task other than menial ones. This is the only way a human can multitask effectively.
Imaginatively engage with what you are doing. This will bring out the best part of your mind, focus you on your task, and make you more effective and efficient.
Whether you use these tips or make up our own, I encourage you to figure out what matters most to you, then do what matters most to you. Don't get sidetracked. You must choose. You must prioritize. In order to do well and be happy, you must say, to many people and activities, "No, thank you." In today's crazybusy world, you must deliberately preserve and cultivate your most valuable connections to people, activities and whatever else is most important to you. As you take back control and lead a sane life, you become the person you really want to be. You will enjoy -- while they last -- the childhoods of your kids, the ripening of your marriage, and these best years of your life. You will give yourself permission to make the most of the short time you have on this planet.
Adapted from CrazyBusy Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD, Ballentine, NY, 2006.
For more by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.