How to make progress when you have zero time

I’ve been waking up at 4am regularly again.  This means that I don’t have enough time during the day and my mind wakes me up thinking of everything I need to get done. Our schedule is too packed, I’m too busy and I’ve noticed things are starting to pile up because I don’t have time to make the progress that I normally do.  I’m too busy, have zero time and it’s stressing me out.

I bet you’ve felt like this too – your schedule is full, your place is a mess and your stress level is rising.  I encourage you to take time to make necessary adjustments to continue making progress, even if you have zero time.  If you do this now, you’ll have a better chance of improving your schedule, your stress level and your sanity.

Remove things from your life.

When you look at your schedule, what do you see? I’ve got a packed work schedule and a packed free-time schedule. And it isn’t working for me.  I don’t have time to think if I’m running from one meeting to the next. It made me realize that I needed to start removing some things from my schedule, from my thoughts and from my life.  After taking a long look at what I’ve been doing, I started to make changes.  I’ve removed important, valuable things from my schedule.  Some of them weren’t easy to remove.  All of them were necessary to remove.  I could tell it made a difference as my stress level decreased with each removal.

I encourage you to look at your schedule right now.  How can you get others to help you? What can you remove? What adjustments can you make? The more you choose to focus on the most important things, the more you’ll start to realize how your schedule shouldn’t be filled up with the other things.

Continue reading

Don’t Wait Until You Are Ready. Start Today.

I heard advice recently that you shouldn’t wait until you are ready.  Because if you wait until you’re completely ready, you’ll probably never do anything.  It made me remember how important it is to take risks, to make progress every day, and to purposefully spend time developing your next step.  I know I need to practice this even more than I currently do and I encourage you to do the same.  Start something now, even before you think you’re ready.

Start when the idea is just an idea.

I spend many of my days in brainstorming mode.  And I come up with some crazy ideas.  Some are crazy good and some are crazy terrible.  But all of them are worth their time and discovery.  Staying in full-thinking brainstorming mode forces me to create and develop tons of ideas and helps me move forward before I’m entirely sure of the end result.

I encourage you to spend a regular amount of time each week thinking up new, crazy ideas. In fact, I want you to schedule that time – it could be your workout time, it could be in the shower, it could be at 4am (when I unintentionally do some of my best brainstorming). You’ll start to notice that you look forward to that time and can think more clearly and purposefully with your big ideas.

Start when the idea scares you.

Recently, a friend applied for a promotion at his current job.  His response when asked, “Well, they’ll either hire me or hire someone better than me.”  I was impressed with this thought process and wondered how ready he’d felt when he applied.  I’d bet he felt mostly ready to take on a new position like this.  If you wait until you’re completely ready, you’re already too late.  To late for the job, the experience, the chance.

I encourage you to move forward when you feel about half-way ready.  You should feel a little scared-excited with what you’re planning to do.  Once you’ve figured out this scary step, be purposeful with your time and effort to help make this step happen.  You’ll start to notice that scared-excited begins to look more and more exciting when you really make progress.  And soon you’ll be right where you want to be.

Start when things will get messy.

I love a clean process, it’s refreshing to get things done and have them turn out exactly as planned.  Do you know what never happens for me? A perfectly neat and tidy process.  You know what I’ve learned over the years?  To enjoy the mess.  In fact, now I really look forward to it.  I know things are going to get messy and disorganized. And that’s OK. Because eventually, the same things will get cleaner and organized and totally make sense.

I encourage you to look forward to the mess.  Try to do a little something each day.  My house is full of projects, my office is full of tasks and I have lists and lists of ideas to start.  Each of them have their own life cycle of ideas, mess and success.  I know where I am with each item because I focus on a little each day.  And I know it will get messy, but I know I’ll also make progress.  You may only have fifteen minutes – use it.  Doing a little bit every single day will make a big difference over time.

It’s easy to wait until you’re totally ready to do anything.  It’s too easy.  Don’t let yourself get that complacent. Start before you are ready and you’ll start to notice how much progress you can make.

Image-1

Why sticking to your budget will ultimately make you a better person

I’m the spender in our family. And recently, I was reminded in full force how easily your well-planned budget can slip right through your fingers.  I had that option many times and I resisted every single time.

IMG_2056

Yes, I love to spend money! But, I realize that spending money now means that we’ll have less later and I refuse to dip into next month’s budget for what I want right now.  So I decided to take the more prudent road and realized that each day I didn’t mindlessly spend on things I didn’t need, it strengthened my resolve to practice financial stewardship again and again. I know it isn’t easy and, honestly, I’m glad it’s a new month and our budget has started over.  I was reminded of some pretty important lessons that I’m ready to share with you.

Continue reading

Why micro-goals may just change your life

I read an article recently that talked about Micro-Resolutions and how instead of hoping for good intentions to work out, you could use these micro-goals to shrink down and reach big goals one at a time.  I love this.  I’m often setting enormous goals and excitedly thinking of how to break them down into smaller pieces – but I love the idea of starting with the smaller goal from the very beginning.

IMG_1980

I had to make many changes this year for my goals.  After a year of aggressive goals that failed, I needed to re-focus and make goals that would actually work and micro-goals have served me well.  Here’s what I learned:

Continue reading

Don’t wait for perfect: Why progress matters no matter what

Recently, I was traveling with a friend and she shared a bit of wisdom that has stayed with me.  It’s what I’ve been thinking about in my free time and helped me gain perspective on something I’ve been struggling with for a while. She was telling me about how she’s been burned out with an area of her life – a necessary area of her life – and she realized she had to make a plan to work on things a little each day.  She told me, “I knew it wasn’t my best work, I knew my heart wasn’t in it.  But I kept going because I knew I needed to.  And I’m glad I did, because now I’m in a much better place and my work has improved.”

I couldn’t believe it – it was exactly what I been struggling with too! I love spending time writing, but lately my results and readership have exploded (I know, #firstworldproblems) and I felt like I needed to share that perfect post with the world – I mean it’s what 10,000 people per month are expecting.  And it was overwhelming, I mean what do you say to a crowd that big?

You can’t wait for things to be perfect.  You have to start somewhere.

IMG_1886

Continue reading

How Living In The Moment Makes You More Productive

I love to plan and love to organize.  Love it. But I realized that I was using my planning and organization as a crutch to ignore “living in the moment” and accepted I needed to make a change. Sure, planning and organization has a time and a place, but to really experience life – sometimes you need to be more aware of what is happening right now and be ready to take advantage of your opportunities. Here’s what I’ve learned that I think will benefit you too:

Be Present In The Moment.

When I am in planning mode, I’m sometimes so focused on where I’m going, I’m not thinking about where I already am.  I realized this after I had both of my kids.  I needed to be more present with what was happening now.  It’s something I still have to work toward each day.  I have to physically stop what I’m doing and purposefully think about what I should be doing right now.  And then I have to focus on being present in the moment. Remember, there are many times where your undivided focus is essential – it’s with the things that really matter – and those are often not things.  Be present with the people who matter to you.  It may take focus, but it’s worth it.

Continue reading

Be More Productive: Make (tiny) Progress Each Day

On more days than I’d like to admit I’m too tired.  Lie on the bed all night and binge-watch TV tired.  Can’t do anything else for the day tired.  And that doesn’t work so well for me to get anything done. And then a few months ago, I realized that I was trying to do my day backwards.  I was trying to do too much during my low point of the day, and it wasn’t working for me.  Here’s what I remembered to boost my productivity each day, and I think it will help you too:

Your Productive Time Matters.

I’m pretty productive at work, so much so that I’m mentally exhausted by the time I make it home. I’ve realized I’ll sacrifice my personal energy to maintain my professional energy.  So I work when I’m best – when I first wake up in the morning.  My goal each day is to get one productive thing done at home before I go into work.  And on most days, I can accomplish this task, which makes me feel more productive as I go into work.  Try to work at the time that works best for you – early in the morning, during your lunch hour or late at night – if it works for you, it works.  And remember to write it down, so you remember what needs to be done!

Continue reading