March has come in like a lion in the northeast! We were hit with a storm that felt like it came out of nowhere! Weren’t we just wearing light jackets last week?
The night before the storm hit, the governor declared the State of Emergency, my district schools announced its closure, and the markets were jammed with shoppers. Everyone was braced for a record-breaking nor’easter.
I woke up the next morning and eagerly peeked out my window. It took me a minute to register the mere dusting of snow that covered the lawn. All that hype for…negligible accumulation.
My first thought was, “Great, no shoveling.” Then, it hit me…I’d have three kids home from school and no snow play for distraction.
Translation: Dust off your “Julie, the Cruise Director” cap.
Y’all know what I mean. In your collection of hats (parent hat, employee hat, daughter hat, sister hat, friend hat, etc...you get the picture), you probably have a cap like mine too. 🤣
My next thought was a question, “How am I going to stay on track with my work with everyone home???” (My husband was home, too.)
I don’t get shaken by unexpected life circumstances that push my plans off course…anymore. I used to believe that if I had an ultra-organized life, from soup to nuts, with every detail structured and systemized then I’d avoid these situations. But life happens, I've learned. And it continues to do so, even if (feels like, especially if) I am stuck in a strict paradigm of order.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still do not enjoy the disruption that the unforeseen escorts into my day, week, etc. However, I have developed the muscle memory to respond to these times with some level of grace and flexible strategy.
Choices of how I manage the upset are shared below. But please do not see this as a comprehensive list. Only you know your life, how many hats you coordinate, and what works for your personality type. Let my approach spark your own strategic ideas. Ok?
PREPARE A PRIORITY LIST
Once I got the call that school would be closed, I filtered and reset my priorities for the next day. I reviewed my list of ‘to-dos’ for the week. I looked at what was coming up next week. I sorted what could wait and be scheduled for the following week from what needed to be done by Friday. Then I chose what few items I would focus on during the Snow Day.
Most times, you don’t get a forecast of the “monkey wrench” being thrown your way. I get that. You can, however, practice quickly taking time (ten minutes or less) to review your commitments when “it” hits. What is pressing? Think about items with deadlines or time limits. What is important? And is it necessary? We all have important responsibilities that are not necessary. Take a step back from your life, gain a little perspective, and sort the necessary from the desirable (need vs. want).
SET TIME BLOCKS
Time is another critical commodity affected by unplanned life circumstances. One solution is to set up time blocks for certain types of tasks. (You may read about how I started with it in this post.)
Basically, a time block is a set time that is dedicated to a specific type of task. During my Creative Block, I write content for this blog and other items. When my time is limited and I need to do other things, I shorten my time block rather than mixing areas of focus. It is not advised to move from project to project. Context switching negatively affects your productivity. Set a time block and focus.
During the Snow Day, I blocked two hours for work. (One hour was creative time, the other for learning and personal development.) Though the time was interrupted several times for various reasons, I accomplished the important items on my list because I was focused during the time that I had earmarked.
EXECUTE WITH A FLEXIBLE MIND
There is emotional satisfaction derived from the accomplishment of items on a ‘to-do’ list. I am intimately aware of this. I used to put things on my list that I had already done to get the gratification of crossing it off. It’s a thing! I know many of you get it… 😉
The flip side of that is the reality that too many items on the List can become overwhelming and discouraging. To design and move your life in the direction of growth and progress, this habit must be transformed, particularly for times of the unexpected.
As you sift out your top priorities and set a time block for addressing them, remind yourself that your chosen activity will move the ball forward in your business and your life. You have done the heavy lifting of identifying what is most important and necessary. Now, trust your decision. And let go of other expectations or pressures (internal and external) to “do it all!” Stretch your thinking on this topic. Doing less equates to more.
For the Doer, I know, this is difficult. I KNOW.
I want you to gain all there is to grow on in challenging situations. That only happens when there is flexible thinking and space to be present. Space created by less doing, more being. Then you are positioned to learn the lessons that are innate in the mess. It’s not easy. However, the person you have an opportunity to become in the process is priceless.
She will surprise you with her strength, grace, beauty, depth, and exponential success. And in case you missed it, She is You.
The next time a “storm” hits your life, employ these strategies. Then tweak them to become your own ‘go to’ response to the unpredicted. Don’t allow the whirlwinds of life to stifle your growth and draw you off course. I cannot wait to hear the success stories that you will tell!
Until next time…