For many years I was focused on working HARD. I had several varying beliefs that were based around the idea that to do a job well I needed to invest a lot of time. I needed to be perpetually busy. And if I wasn’t, then I then felt lazy, guilty, and unproductive. I sacrificed my health and wellbeing in my endless pursuit of busyness.
I know the relentless need of trying to perfect something to the point that I never actually finished it. Or that feeling when a task drags on for way longer than it needs to, resulting in disconnection, procrastination, and avoidance.
Our lives are becoming increasingly fixated and focused on work. Many of us are feeling as though we just don’t have enough time in our day to complete what we have set out to do.
What I am noticing in my work as a health coach, energy medicine practitioner, and keynote speaker, is that beyond anything else, it is our health that is suffering.
The main reason I find that clients are not eating properly, getting enough sleep, exercising, enjoying positive connection and relaxation, is that they just don’t have the time. Time is focused on a never-ending ‘to-do list’ and it’s exhausting.
Working long hours seems like our only choice when it comes to getting things done. But if we are sacrificing our mental health, then it is not the long-term solution we are looking for.
What I have noticed in my own life is that time is often an illusion when it comes to what we can get done in a day. It is often more a matter of priorities, focused intent, and effective time management.
When I am completing a last-minute task and there is urgency, I can focus and use my energy optimally to get it done. At University this was always my preferred way of studying – leaving things to the last minute which resulted in me channelling a large amount of focused energy without any distraction for a short period.
The challenge was that because I had left it to the last minute it also included stress. And let’s be honest, we want to avoid increased stress at all costs. So, my question has always been – how do I utilize that focused energy but do so in a way that is not stressful or last minute?
For many of us long hours and dedication to work often bring in feelings of accomplishment and purpose. But what if we changed this perception and challenged our thinking a bit.
I know through trialling different ways to work effectively that busyness doesn’t always equate to productivity My approach these days is quite different, and it set around the work less and do more approach.
Part of this thinking is in taking effective action but also allowing things to come to me when they are ready. Less strive and more thrive. Cultivating more joy and balance in my life so that when I work, I have more focused energy to complete my tasks in the most effective way possible.
Another part of this process has been the development of practical steps and practices that have freed up an incredible amount of time to do the things I love. Surf more. Meditate more. Relax more. Exercise more. Achieve more. Connect more.
Step 1 – Know your purpose and your priorities.
Getting clear on your values and priorities is vital. When you are clear on your priorities for each day, you can take action around those priorities. Many of us spend most of our time focused on the non-important stuff – usually because it’s easier and requires less effort. But if you get clear on the 2 or 3 most essential things you need to achieve each day – all your energy can be focused there.
Step 2 – Become a master at saying NO.
If you say YES to everything something will have to give – and it’s usually you and your health. Give yourself time to respond by first checking in with your schedule, goals, and priorities. A great question to keep asking yourself is – Is this decision taking me toward the life I am wanting to create?
Step 3 – Set aside time to do each task and eliminate distractions.
Allocate a bit more time than you think you need and clear space and distractions to achieve the task. All your energy needs to be focused on the task at hand. Turn off your phone and don’t answer calls and texts. Minimize every distraction for the allocated time. You will be amazed at what you can achieve.
Step 4 – Reward yourself once you have finished the task.
Completing the task and then creating a reward before the next task is incredibly empowering. It could be a delicious, healthy lunch followed by a short meditation. Or a lunchtime yoga session. It can even just be sitting outside for 5 minutes and enjoying the sunshine. Something that fills you with joy and that you feel excited about.
Step 5 – Schedule EVERYTHING.
The days that I achieve the most and do the least are those days in which I have everything planned and booked in. My meals are planned. My breaks are planned. My meditation space is planned. The tasks for work I want to achieve are planned. My exercise is planned. This also ensures that what I am doing is in alignment with the life I want to create. I feel empowered to live a balanced life that is also super productive.
Step 6 – Ask for Help.
If your days are too busy and you are not finding time for what’s important then you may need to ask for help. You may need to delegate some tasks or take a step back from work. If you physically don’t have enough time in your day to honour yourself and your health, then something needs to change. Get help with setting up the right process and ensure you have the right tools for the job. Streamline everything and if you don’t know how then get support and help.
Step 7 – Practice a mindful approach.
This goes hand in hand with staying focused on your priorities. Stay completely present to each task at hand. If you are feeling overwhelmed and distracted you might need to go for a walk or do a meditation to help bring you back into focus. Avoid multitasking and focus intently on that one task.
Step 8 – Utilize your productive windows.
By understanding yourself and your patterns of productivity you can maximize your focused attention. If I work at 6 am or at 6 pm, I get a very different result. Working for an hour at 6 am is often equivalent to doing 3 hours in the evening. I often use windows that are focused on short spells of energy but equate to incredibly effective work. I know this isn’t always achievable but when you can understand your own productive windows you can use them to do fewer hours and achieve more results.
This all comes back to the premise that we need to work smarter and NOT harder. The days of hustle and strive are over. The days of alignment and focussed intent are everything.
By following the 8 principles within the MEGA SELF framework we can work optimally for shorter periods.