Most of us have time management strategies, our personal toolkit that we crafted throughout the life. We’ve made a habit out of them and they pretty much work for us. We know how to plan our days and weeks based on what is urgent/important, what is complex/simple and the energy levels we have through the day. We are also aware how being mindful is important and how multitasking has consequences for the quality of our work.
I knew that as well, and I was happy with my organizational skills. Then I got a new boss, a tiny & adorable newborn. When she landed to our family, in an instant she became the love of my life, but also messed up with all my strategies, tips and golden nuggets of my planning. Suddenly, nothing I knew could help me. I couldn’t predict when I would have free time, in which amount, when will I be able to get some sleep to get energy levels up for some meaningful work. I felt frustrated, exhausted, like constantly being thrown to the deep water, just desperately trying to stay on the surface and get some air. Just reacting, completely without control.
I had to make a profound reprogramming of all that I knew. So, after a month of struggle, finally I did for myself, what I would support anyone who would ask me for help to do. Stopped, took a deep breath, and had an internal dialog with the only person that could make a difference – ME. These are some simple but turned out to be powerful questions, that I asked myself.
What do I really want? What are my goals?
What do I need to get that done? What are my biggest roadblocks?
How can I make it with the resources that I have in this changed situation?
After this exercise, I already felt better, more in charge of my own life. And here are some conclusions that I made, that helped me to adapt to the change that impacted my priorities and time. I also believe they are applicable for any situation that requires adaptation to the changed and/or increased requirements, that we feel we can’t cope with:
1. Accept the new reality and challenge negative thoughts – I had thoughts like “I can’t manage this”, “Everything is out of my control”, “I can’t get anything done”, “This is really terribly frustrating”. I realized that all these were even more draining my battery, and I was already on the battery saving mode.
So, I replaced them with: “I am living one of the most beautiful phases of my life”, “This is a new, exciting life challenge”, “If I change nothing, nothing will change”, “ I am capable of adapting, done that many times before”, “I got this”, etc…
2. Remember the WHY – I also said to myself: “Well, if it’s so frustrating, why do you have to do it? Maybe just don’t.” But then I felt almost physical reaction, a protest, a desire to do what I love and in that way recharge mentally and spiritually. I felt excited and ready for some small sacrifices (like working late, or very early in the morning without being fully rested), in order to follow my purpose. I was ready to rock n’ roll! 😊
3. Develop new habits
a. combine periods of Presence and Multitasking – I realized that I can distinguish which activities I can multitask and master doing them really fast (cleaning, cooking, laundry…), and for which I want to be fully present (time with my family, coaching, reading…). First ones would save me some time for the others and others provide fulfillment and satisfaction which would renew my mental & emotional energy.
b. planning based on the outcomes not on timetable – Since it was nearly impossible to decide on fixed timing for the activities, I planned not WHEN, but WHAT I want to achieve. This helped me becoming from frustrated, to excited, and jumping in to do my stuff, whenever the opportunity arises (e.g. baby sleeps), and flexible if it doesn’t happen as I predicted (shifting the activity within the day).
c. search for new resources and ask for help – Accepting and showing vulnerability is one of the key things to keep us moving. Though all that time I was not alone, I had been blessed with unconditional support of my family, friends and colleagues. At that moment when I realized what exactly I need, I could use it more often, more purposefully, and they were full of understanding and willingness to help. Also, on the way I kept discovering new, unexpected opportunities (e.g. my brain is so hungry for opportunities to grow, that now I receive flashes of inspiration in most unexpected moments, like in the shower, or while I have my baby sleeping on my chest, I can do some meditation, which is even better, because I am feeling physical contact of a source of immense positive energy).
4. Self-compassion and care – It took me a while to realize that I am not the superwoman, and that it is perfectly ok if I slow down my pace from time to time. It was also crucial to steal at least some minutes for just taking care of myself, on my own, in order to be my best self for everyone who needs me.
Well, that’s it. I am thankful for this opportunity to learn, and I will apply these to help me whenever some new life waves throw me of my track. I hope it may be of some help to you as well.