Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks) when you wonder if you’ll ever get to do any “real” work?
That’s how last week started. Monday was a “teacher work day,” so my kids didn't have school. My younger son was scheduled for camp, but he woke up with an ear ache. I whisked him off to the early morning “drop in hours” at his pediatrician's and confirmed he had an ear infection. Then we had to wait for the drug store to open. And of course, when we got there, the prescription wasn’t ready, so we had to wait for it to be filled. Since he wasn’t contagious and was starting to feel better, I was finally able to drop him off at camp around 10:00.
During times like these, it can feel like the world is conspiring to keep us from doing what we want to do. These are the times we feel like “life gets in the way” of our goals. Yet, in situations like this, I remember a saying from Michael Port:
Life doesn’t get in the way. Life IS the way
- Michael Port
So what can we do? Here are three strategies that helped me manage the day:
1. Know Your Priorities
Thanks to my weekly planning, on Monday morning I knew my top three priorities in my business:
- My Daily 7 (If you're not familiar with the Daily 7, check out this article by Paul McManus)
- Respond to a coaching client with answers to her questions
- Configure the email automation for my upcoming webinar
So I gave myself permission to work ONLY on these three items until they were handled. I also committed to myself that I would get them done.
Because I knew I would get these items done, I could focus on taking care of my son, and (if he was up to it) taking him to camp.
2. Know your commitments
Sometimes we just can’t do things when we want. But if we know all of our commitments, we can rearrange our schedule if we need to, even if that means dropping some previously planned activities.
I’d originally planned to drop my son at camp at 8:00 and be hard at work by 8:30. But when I couldn’t do that, I looked at my calendar and moved my work into other time slots. I try to always keep some "white space" on my calendar in order to have some margin and to handle unexpected events.
By having all my commitments on the calendar, I could rearrange my tasks without fear of double booking myself. And since I knew what was and wasn’t getting done, I could easily prioritize my tasks and feel good about it.
The only way to feel good about what you’re doing is to know what you’re not doing.
- David Allen
After dropping my son at camp, I returned home and got to work on my priorities, focusing on one at a time.
Concentrating on one item at a time helps me be more productive. So I turned off notifications, set a timer, and started to work. I worked on each task until it was finished or the timer expired, whichever came first. Then I’d take a small break, restart the timer, and tackle another task.
I like to use a timer to limit my time on a given task. With the timer running, I know I have to stay on task or else I won’t finish it before the timer expires. Setting time limits also helps me make Parkinson’s Law work for me, instead of against me:
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
- Parkinson’s Law
4. Celebrate Your Successes
These three strategies helped me “roll with the punches” and avoid stress. Although the day didn’t start like I’d planned, I was able to move forward and still get work done.
- I got to spend unplanned time with my son and attend to his health
- All three top priorities for my business were done before noon, despite getting a late start to the work day
I then had time to work on three secondary projects:
- Cleaning out my Inbox
- Social media
- Writing a blog
How do you deal with the “curve balls” life throws at you?
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