Processes and Procrastination

As we head towards the end of another week you may be thinking about what you can toss onto the piles on your desk or mark so that you deal with it next week and not today or tomorrow.  I’m familiar with the process, everyone does it to some extent. And to some extent it’s necessary to do because there are only so many hours in a day and while you may have something sudden and time-sensitive come up today, you may not have that tomorrow and be able to deal with things from today tomorrow.  The danger comes in when you never get to “tomorrow” and you keep having to put out fires and deal with emergencies today and never get to that other stuff you keep putting off.

The good news is that a portion of what you keep putting off can be handled by someone else.  You can get someone else to file the papers or place/pack orders or refill supplies or input data to a spreadsheet or program or app.  The bad news is, as you probably guessed, they can only do so much as they are not you. All that help is great to a point, then you have to step back in and choose or approve purchases, reply to clients, or confirm the data.

But what it comes back to is that you need to stop and realize that there’s a problem and you’re tired of seeing the problem day after day and not being able to do what you want to with or about it.  Maybe it’s as simple as changing the software, program or procedure that you do things with/through.  Maybe it’s creating a schedule and following it 95% of the time.  Maybe it’s just hiring someone to help out a few hours a week (on either the personal or the professional side).  But I believe that for many of the things that we’re putting off, there’s a simple solution that can make it much easier and much less painful to do the job and get it done quicker and with the results you’re looking for (or at the very least results which is something you didn’t have before).

If you’re struggling with the never ending search for tomorrow in your work or home, I encourage you to take an important first step before the end of the week.  Maybe it’s reaching out to an organizer or coach like myself who is local to you and getting the conversation going.  Maybe it’s taking 30 minutes to investigate other program/procedure options.   Maybe it’s sitting down with your team and talking about who’s doing what and who would rather do what and who can help you clear things off your plate (making things easier for everyone).   What will you do?

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Giving Thanks for Time

Today as we discuss being thankful I want to talk about something that I’m struggling with and you may be too: time.  It’s a tricky beast, isn’t it!?  Many of us spend a lot of time talking about it, berating it, bemoaning it and trying to squeeze every last second we can from the hours we’re given.  Some people do waste the time they have or don’t use it very well, but even they tend to talk about how little time they seem to have.

So why be thankful for time? Why talk about it on Monday instead of another day when we could talk about productivity strategies and time stealers (no worries, we will make time for this in the near future)?  Because time is one of the most valuable gifts, tools, opportunities and resources we have. It, along with health, is one of the things that we take most for granted.  When people are told they’re dying in the near future they often write and try to make it through a bucket list.  When people are on their death beds they comment that they wish they had more time to spend with those they’re leaving behind.  When people we know die too soon we say that we wish we had more time with them.

So as much as this discussions is about the value and importance of managing your time well and making time for the things that really matter in life like your health and relationships, it’s also about being grateful for the time that you do have.  We’re so blessed to be living in a day and age when we’re expected to live 80+ years.  I can’t imagine what it used to be like hundreds of years ago when the average lifespan was much less.

So this week make time to appreciate being alive, that you have the time to panic over and stress about, and do your best to use your time and life wisely.

“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”   Seneca

The Season of Spring

This week I’ll be sharing a message of spring. That message is one of both hope and challenge, so while I will be sharing encouragement, I’ll also be calling you out on ways you may have been slacking or holding back and why you may not have what you want or be where you want to be. I want to start by sharing my understanding that hope and challenge are usually seen hand in hand rather than separately. We don’t usually talk about hope when things are awesome and amazing, we talk about hope when things are tough and you can’t see the end of the tunnel, or if you can it doesn’t look very good.

One reason that these two topics come up so often in our lives is because our lives are like the seasons: we have times of death and rest and times of growth and abundance. It’s a cycle we go through during our lives, it’s called the journey of life. It’s not something we can stop, nor is it something we should. Think about how it feels when your boss keeps piling work on your desk, you start to get frustrated because even as fast as you do things more things get added. You never get ahead, never catch up, never make progress, you’re just trying to keep your head above water. So we need those times of quiet and less activity so that we can have the strength to get through those more difficult times.

As we enter the season of spring it’s important to remember that even in this time of growth there’s still stuff to let go of: dead plants, the snow, and our winter jackets. We look forward to the growth but we can’t get there until we allow that growth to happen. It’s not as much of a letting go as fall to winter is, but with change there’s always a little that has to be let go to make room for the new, the bigger, the better.

So this week as we approach spring what will you be hoping for? Just more sun? More time to walk and be outdoors? Freedom from the restrictions of winter? Happier people? And what do you need to do to be ready for spring to enter your life?

“I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming. I believe that there’s a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.”  Steve Southerland

Making Lemonade

When life seems to send you more lemons than anything else you’ve got a couple of choices to make: you can choose to complain, you can choose to change, you can choose to let go, or you can choose to make lemonade. Each of these are important and have their place as part of the challenges in our lives.

I think it is a nod to our human nature that we’re upset when things aren’t going well. We like it when things work, when they’re successful and when they’re doing good in the world. We don’t like it when things go wrong or aren’t as successful as we hoped. It’s actually healthy to take time to mourn and accept the failure. If it wasn’t healthy we wouldn’t have tons of research done on the stages of grief, but we do.

But the upset and grief can only last for so long. At some point in time in the near future it has to change to action based on the challenge, which means you need to let it go, change things or just go with it and make the best of it even if it wasn’t your original plan, and sometimes you’ll have to do a combination or all of those.

But the key to dealing with the lemons of life is actually in the lemonade: it has to be made. Lemons don’t just turn themselves into lemonade, you have to give them a helping hand. Whether you were the cause of the lemons or just the unfortunate beneficiary, it’s up to you to deal with them. If you’re lucky, it’s actually a good thing you were given lemons, because you’ve been waiting for something to change or for a push to get you out of your current situation and on your way, and here it conveniently is. What will you do with the lemons life sends you?

“When you’re in a situation, you can complain about it, you can feel sorry for yourself, you can do a lot of things. But how are you gonna make the situation better?”  Tony Dungy