It’s half past ten at night and I am so exhausted from the long day I had. I just started a new job this week which is exciting because it combines a leadership position with my secret love for process optimizing. But that’s not what I want to tell you about. After work I rushed to one of our regular Foodsharing events I organised with one of my volunteers. Tonight was special though because we had many newbies and kids who really enjoyed themselves. And so did I. It was such a fun crowd and we had a great time. And than it happened. On my way home in the car I had that feeling. That beautiful, exciting and magical feeling that everything is possible. That I can do everything, achieve everything I want in my life as long as I work hard for it.
Ok maybe I should give you some background here. In my last job I was very flexible with my working hours and the location I work from. That made it very easy to manage my charity beside my job. A few months ago my company started to go downhill which left me with a lot of free time. That’s when I decided to start my blog. I had the same attitude as always – why not, let’s give it a try and see what happens. So I started out casual and realized quickly that there is so much I need to learn. I mean how do I blog and where? And what should the website look like? How do I promote it? Additionally, I had to learn the technical side of blogging. How do I build a website? Don’t get me wrong, I love it. It was just a lot to take in the first few weeks. I spend pretty much every day on my computer. Creating content and thinking about how to accomplish my ideas.
So when I got the unexpected job offer I was excited and worried at the same time. Having a management position is thrilling. I mean it’s a great opportunity in a company I could strive in. But it is also a full time position again, in an office. Which means I won’t have as much free time anymore. Ok, you can stop laughing now. You probably think now I am crazy and that everyone has a full time job. Totally normal! That is just the way it is if you want to pay your bills. Right. Well, I got to tell you that I gave myself the freedom over the past few years to take some time for myself. I wanted to find my inner brave and explore what else my life has to offer. I didn’t want that life anymore where my job takes over everything. There must be more out there. I didn’t want to feel useless anymore when I am not with some company. You know that feeling when you are in between jobs and all you can think about is how you miss having a task. I hated that feeling! Why should my life be dependent from someone else? So I am trying to find my own calling instead of having someone else tell me what to do next. Anyway, you can’t imagine what you can come up with when you have some time on your hands. I always have a thousand ideas. I start new hobbies and come up with new projects all the time.
But that was my problem. Now I don’t have the time anymore. So of course the week before my new job started I felt anxious. What am I going to do now? How am I supposed to run a charity, be a blogger and have a full time job all at the same time? I don’t want to half ass my projects nor my job. Do I have to give something up in order to make time? Do I need to pull out of my charity that I started from nothing? Everything we achieved in the last year. Or does the blog need to go? But I really enjoy being a smart ass blogger. What if my creativity get’s lost in between all my responsibilities? All those doubts came together and created these stupid and uncontrollable anxious feelings. Since that was not the first time having doubts and anxieties I did my usual rituals which always help. More yoga, mind mapping and a lot of “You can do this!” pep talk to myself. My poor husband.
But back to my main message here. It’s almost midnight and I just came home from my fantastic charity event and now I am sitting here writing this blog post. Not because I have to, but because I have fun with it and I therefore want to. I also thought I have to tell you about this! Haha! I feel inspired by this magical moment on my drive back home. That moment when all the doubts and anxious feelings suddenly disappear and everything seems so clear. That moment when you feel like everything is possible and that you can live the life you always wanted for yourself. I can feel the butterflies in my belly telling me that I am on the right path. I can do it! And so can you!
In order to make it a bit easier I thought I could help you out. I wrote down some tips for you on how you can get shit done and still have some spiritual downtime. Find out how to juggle multiple projects at the same time.
Create a plan. I know that sounds lame but it’s kind of important. For example, you could sit down every night and make a list with your tasks for the next day. You could also do that weekly. Every weekend you think of what needs to be done during the week. The best item for this would be a planner or a calendar. Planning activities include estimating effort, identifying urgent vs important work items, and prioritizing tasks. Start blocking out periods of time on your calendar to work on projects like: to work on your résumé, write your first novel, re-design your website, etc… As you fill in your calendar, you may start to realize that you don’t have enough time to do all of the projects by their due dates, which means…correct, you have to much on your plate! Another piece of advice I can give regarding your plan is to only schedule one creative/thinking-intensive activity per day. For example, if you write, only work on one writing task per day. You can try to convince yourself all you want that you can handle more than that. But I guarantee the quality of your work will suffer.
Know your perfect juggling amount. It’s hard to escape multi-tasking. But overdoing it can result in an exercise in futility: doing a little here, a little there and never completing anything significant. We all have our own way of thinking and working.
Focus on the task at hand. This is easier said than done, but when you’re working on one task or project, put your full attention there. I have to admit that this is particularly difficult for me actually. I am like a puppy in a park chasing butterflies. I run after one until another one crosses my way. So I chase the new one for a bit and then try to chase both of them at the same time. When I sometimes do some research for one of my posts I stumble over another interesting topic I want to read up on which of course leads to another. So at the end I catch myself reading about something which doesn’t have anything to do with my post anymore. You see where I am going with this? So it might take discipline—especially if you have a wild mind like mine that wanders. Try to push the thought for project B away and stay concentrated.
Complete something every day. This is something I find very important. Being a good multi-tasker is an important skill to have. But sometimes it’s easy for some jugglers to never get that sense of completion when switching in between tasks. That still happens to me sometimes. When I haven’t completed a task in a few days I start to feel anxious. It feels like I am working and working and nothing is getting done. Completing a task every day will give you a good feeling when you go to bed in the night. So try to focus on it, stay with it and make sure you don’t leave your desk until it’s finished. Then savor it. It’s important to bring all those balls in play to a halt. And acknowledge a job well done.
Pick something you dread and get to work on it first thing in the morning. Try to do the more difficult tasks first. These are the ones which require more energy. Force yourself to tackle the hard stuff early in the day while you are somewhat fresh. You will see that it’s going to be more efficient. Also, once the dreaded task is completed, you’ll feel a burden lifted and it will spur you on for the rest of the day.
Make course corrections when you hit a wall. You’ll have times when you are working on something important, but you just hit a wall and stop making progress. Staring at the wall and beating yourself up are not helpful, so make a smooth transition on to other work. You may need to come back quickly, but taking a break will help keep you productive.
Eliminate unnecessary aspects of the work. You may have habits while working on projects, but you realize those things are not directly contributing to the work at hand. Like me reading up on random stuff whilst I am researching a topic. Don’t make extra work for yourself. Evaluate your processes and look for things that you can stop doing. This will free up time for important things and will streamline your efforts.
Make good use of checklists. Checklists are a great way to make sure that everything gets done. Every task that gets assigned and every detail that needs to be completed should appear somewhere on a checklist. That way, you don’t have to remember them.
Write down all of your time commitments on your calendar. This includes your job, part-time gigs, yoga class, monthly lunch dates with your college friends, family parties, and anything else that happens at a specific date + time and/or happens regularly. But don’t forget to schedule some downtime for yourself.
The most important of all though is to make sure that you have some downtime in between your tasks. Don’t overdue it. Don’t get stressed out. If you reach that point you won’t be as productive anymore and your work quality will go downhill. I sometimes have to remind myself that all the projects I am doing voluntary should be fun at all times. When I feel that I am getting anxious I usually slow down a bit to gain back my strength.
I hope that these tips will not just help you to get organised but also to become more confident that you can handle it.
Be confident. Be brave. Be you.