I often hear clients say things like, "I'll take some time
off after I finish these projects." But if completing
everything on the "to-do" list becomes a prerequisite to
relaxing or practicing some self- care... well, that day will
never come! Besides, have you ever known anyone on their deathbed
to say, "I wish I had spent more time at the office!"?
Insanity and Reclaim Your Life!
The first step in reclaiming your life is to make proactive
choices, rather than being reactive to your external environment
and allowing the events in your life to dictate your priorities.
Being proactive requires you to be conscious and intentional. A
body that's used to running on high levels of adrenaline is like a
car engine that has the idle set too high. It will take time to
retrain your mind
and body to slow down in order to make choices that will help you
practice better self-care.
Instead of impulsively responding to a request of your time or
automatically launching in to work on an unfinished task, learn to
stop and ask yourself what's most important. Do you really need to
take that phone call right now? Will the world come to an end if
you wait until tomorrow to check your email? How about if you turn
your pager and cell phone off? Is it critical to clean the house
before you go out for the evening?
Running on Adrenaline?
For most Americans, adrenaline has become the drug of choice.
Adrenaline is what keeps us going at breakneck speed. When we use
adrenaline as our main source of energy, our body's adrenal system
-- the system which produces the
"fight or flight" response that is supposed to prepare
us for battle -- never has a chance to rest.
If you can relate to some of these common behaviors and symptoms,
you may very well be using adrenaline as a main source of fuel:
· You finally have time to relax. You feel so anxious about
unfinished business that, instead of relaxing, you end up doing
something on your "to do" list.
· You feel exhausted but you cannot fall asleep because you have
so many thoughts racing through your head. Or, you fall asleep but
awaken during the night thinking about all the unfinished business
that needs your attention.
· During the workday you find difficulty concentrating on one
project because you feel so distracted by a multitude of other
projects or tasks you need to do.
· You check voicemail or email multiple times a day and feel a
rush of anxiety each time you do so. (That's your adrenaline
saying "Get ready for battle!").
· You typically skip lunch and stay late at the office to try to
catch up. No matter how much you do this, you just can't seem to
As technology increases and the pace of life speeds out of
control, our adrenal system responds to what our bodies perceive
as "danger" by staying in a constant state of readiness.
Over time, our bodies get used to staying in this
hyper-vigilant state of "fight or flight," making it
physiologically difficult for us to slow down. Eventually we work
ourselves to exhaustion.
One of the problems with overextending ourselves is that we grow
accustomed to getting our energy from adrenaline rushes. So how do
we begin to recharge our battery from a healthier source of energy
when we get stuck in this chronic
state of running on adrenaline? Here are some suggestions to help
reduce your reliance on adrenaline so you can take better care of
your spirit, mind, and body. Choose one or two of these ideas at a
time and practice them for 21
days... the amount of time it takes to form a new habit:
· Schedule some time to relax. You may find it stressful to keep
these relaxation "appointments" with yourself at first.
Start small -- let's say 15 minutes at a time -- and build it up
to larger stretches of time for relaxation.
· The next time you are asked to take on a new project, sleep on
it and give them your answer tomorrow. This is a simple way to
keep someone else's urgency from becoming your next crisis, while
giving yourself the time and space to sort out how the request
fits with your other priorities. Be more selective as to when you
say yes. "No!" is a complete sentence.
· Delegate whenever possible. Hire an assistant, request support
from your boss, or decide to let go of certain aspects of your
· Turn your pager and cell phone off after work hours. If you are
"on call" 24 hours a day, it's time to renegotiate
expectations! The world will not fall apart if you take time off.
· Do some deep breathing. When we're running on adrenaline we
have a tendency to do shallow breathing. Practice deep breathing
while driving or at specific periods throughout the day.
Consistent and frequent deep breathing will improve the health of
your nervous system.
· Eat regularly--three meals a day plus healthy snacks--and make
choices that offer a proper balance of nutrients and food groups.
· Wean yourself from caffeine. Although a morning cup of coffee
or midday soda may give you a jolt of energy, it wears down your
adrenal system over time and actually depletes your body of
energy. Caffeine can also make you feel jittery or nervous.
· Exercise regularly. A brisk walk is one of the best ways you
can reduce stress and restore health to your adrenal system. Walk
to work, take the stairs, or use part of your lunch break to get
your body moving.
· Instead of checking your email multiple times throughout the
day, schedule two or three specific times for this. Then let
others know that you do not live online so they can adjust their
expectations if they're used to an immediate
response from you.
· Have a set time for returning phone calls instead of being
available all day to take each call as it comes in. (That's what
voice mail is for!) Again, let others know when you'll be
returning calls so they can adjust their expectations.
· Clear your desk and work on one thing at a time. Organize your
time and space to focus on your priorities.
When faced with a stressful situation, put things into perspective
by practicing something called "bottom-lining." A
powerful aspect of bottom-lining is that it bypasses the comments
of your gremlins. (Gremlins -- a term taken from
Richard Carson's book, Taming Your Gremlin: A Guide to Enjoying
Yourself--are those inner voices which conspire to keep you
from being happy.) Our gremlins would have us believe that nothing
we do or say is good enough. When we go
right to the bottom line, there's simply not space for our
gremlins to take center stage with an insistence that we
"should," "gotta," or "have to" do
Here's a bottom-line question to ask yourself as soon as you start
feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or burdened by an unexpected
request: What's really at stake here?
Unless someone will die because of your inability to complete
something right this moment, simply walk away, take a deep breath,
and sort out your priorities. After all, the quality of your life
is far more important than any task or responsibility you have
agreed to take on. And not all tasks are imposed by someone else.
Be aware of those self-imposed deadlines that you've created for
Organization and Time Management Part of the Problem?
So many people seem unhappy in their professional lives.
Very few connect that dissatisfaction to being disorganized, which
can make a good job seem unbearable. The good news is that it's
easy to correct. Some of my executive clients are effective
decision-makers on a higher level, but they have difficulty
managing the hundreds of micro-decisions they must make daily,
often in the form of paper -- memos and letters to read, phone
messages to return, mail to sort, reports and proposals to review,
and to-do lists a mile long.
not the tigers that eat us alive... it's the gnats!"
Do you put "getting organized" on the back burner
because of more pressing things which need your attention? Until
you consistently pay attention to non-urgent but important tasks--tasks
such as getting organized, weekly planning, self-care, and other
preventive kinds of activities--the urgent tasks will continue to
multiply, often to a critical state.
You may put off getting organized because you don't have the time.
Or perhaps you'd like to hire a professional organizer, but you
don't want to part with the money. Unfortunately, you may
already be spending that money now in less tangible ways.
To calculate the costs of disorganization, for the next month keep
a log of the costs of doing "business as usual."
Once you have kept this log for a month, multiply the total by 12,
and you'll have an annual estimate of what disorganization costs
you or the company for which you work.
© Kathy Paauw. Kathy, President of Paauwerfully Organized, specializes in
helping busy executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs
declutter their schedules, spaces and minds. She is a
certified business/personal coach and professional organizer.