Overloaded with information streams and things "to-do"? Here is how to get control again.
I certainly do. Often I would feel like there would no end to all the stuff I had to go through and information I had to take in. Email, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ (anybody still using that?),
LinkedIn, Twitter, TV news (-junkie), several TV series (Blacklist, Alone, The last Frontier, to mention the important ones. But there were more.), loads of blogs about coaching or online marketing and about a book every other week (In which I succeeded less and less).
"This was not working out"
One day I came to the conclusion I just wasn’t going to be able to take all of that in and still be able to run my coaching company, not even talking of real non-digital social contact. Things had to change. So I made the proverbial step back and cleared my head.
"New insights, I needed them all, but in a different way'
I came to a new conclusion, namely that I needed all of the sources, but in more controlled doses. But how? The answer came by accident when I fell ill for a few days and wasn’t able to take in all of the endless streams of info. I noticed that I didn’t had the feeling I really missed out on too much. Neither did I had the feeling I could not function anymore or was missing out on important opportunities. This moment was a revelation.
I stopped watching most of the TV Series, decided that the news was to depressing anyway most of the time and therefor started to watch that only once a day in the morning (weather and traffic). I started to allocate a specific amount of time as a fixed moment in the day to social media and email (45 min twice a day). Email had priority, time left was allocated to social media reading.
The rest of the day was (and still is) allocated to other tasks. This fixed email/social media time really saved me tons of time during the day. (Have to admit, the discipline needed was quite a challenge at first 😊)
"I had time left!!!"
Suddenly I had time to read books and still not felt hunted by waiting tasks. This had to do with what I talked about above, but also with a new approach to starting the day.
"New approach to starting my day"
I used to make “to-do”-lists. Let’s just taste that word for a moment, “to-do”-list. It implies a must, an obligation to be fulfilled.....or else. Instead of helping, it started to weigh me down more and more. Certainly when more and more “to-do”-s from the day before appeared again on today's “must-do”-list, which felt like a failure. It was clear this was not the way forward. I found several ways to deal with this, but some time ago I found one that really stuck.
"David and Atilla"
I ran into two colleague coaches, Atilla Mohiddin and David Piai, at an meetup who had formulated a new start the day approach. They are an interesting combo, the first is a effectivity coach and the second a mindfulness coach. Like most of us, struggling with how to get through the day doing everything that had to be done, they sat down and combining each other’s specific knowledge, they developed a new approach. Headstrong as I am, I changed it a bit and made it mine, but in all honesty they were the original source. (Thanks Atilla and David.)
"No generic approach, It only works if you adjust it so it works for you"
So here I go, my interpretation of their approach.
First I make a mind dump. A mind dump is emptying your mind by writing all thoughts in your mind at that moment on a piece of paper.
When my mind is empty, I do a 2 minute breathing (meditation) exercise. This brings a calm that takes away the stress of thinking of things to do today.
Then I make a list. Really. But a different one. With the calm I now have, I make a “what-I-am-really-going-to-do-today”-list. The difference is that I do not put on tons of stuff, but in my calm am able to see what really has to be done today and more important, what is possible to do today. Everything else has to wait.
I then prioritize them in which order I am going to address them. (The only exceptions are email and social media, which I attend to twice a day at fixed times, see above).
"Ending the day on a high of succeeding"
Quite often I find that I am having time left after the tasks have been completed and to my great satisfaction, am able to squeeze in one or two more tasks. It is a great feeling to end the day, not looking at an uncompleted list, but on a high of doing more than planned.
If you have any questions about how coaching can help you with the abovementioned subject or any other, do not hesitate to contact me (either in English or Dutch) at email@example.com or at 036 - 848 34 77.