So many of you will have had ideas about how running your own business would lead to ultimate flexibility and great work life balance - after all you are your own boss right?
But...the reality can often be something quite different. Although we don't have a boss if we call in sick or need to run an errand for loved ones, we have something a little worse...our inner critic. Ouch.
How many of you have found that feelings of overwhelm are a more regular feature of your week than you'd like? How many of you have found the familiar anxiety that you might be a jack of all trades but not feeling like the master of any of it? How many of you are regularly getting to the end of the week (if there is such a thing in your life) and feeling completely 'done'.
If this isn't an alien concept to you, then maybe it's time to have another peek at your work life planning so that you feel like you're achieving what you need to achieve in work while finding precious time to look after yourself and do the other things in your life that matter most.
Here's a little process or journey with some ideas, reminder or tips to help:
What are your priorities?
Sounds like the most obvious of questions, but actually, are they absolutely clear in your mind? How focussed are you on them and are they even the 3 most important priorities? Try to list your top 3 priorities for your life (work and/or personal life). Write down why they're so important too. Have they surprised you? Are they all work and no play? Are they all personal and not work?
How's it going then?
Thinking about your top 3 priorities, how much of your time are you spending on activities, tasks or thinking that don't serve your top 3 priorities? No judgement here, but it can be useful and illuminating to appraise how we're carving up our days. For example, is one of your priorities is to find more time for yourself but your spend most of the week serving customers and looking after family, then this is something to notice and take notice of.
We can do anything but not everything
I love this little phrase but it's hard to swallow sometimes. Given the first two little exercises, have you had a little rethink about where you're placing your energy? Are you prioritising your daily plan so that you're working to your priorities? What needs to go? Where do you need help?
Dump, delegate & defer
If you're struggling to know how to fit it all in or what needs to go, then how about writing a list with the above 3 headings....not easy but again super interesting! Are there activities in your life that are really not necessary. I never forget a friend coming to my house and being horrified that I was ironing tea towels. A minor activity in some ways but a complete lightbulb moment for me that just because I always had, did I need to continue?! What can you dump or let go of in your life that you're spending time on and that serves no purpose other than be a bad habit?
If there are tasks or activities that are still relevant but time consuming or not part of your personal journey to your priorities, can you delegate them? This could be family taking over meal prep once a week or something for fundamental like getting help with your book keeping. Remember the previous point - anything but not everything.
Finally, are you trying to do it al at once? Perhaps it would be useful to break down your priorities or plans into phases. Focus on phase 1 now and perhaps accept that some things will happen but a little later. This type of designation of everything into these 3 categories can be liberating!
Don't let perfection be the enemy of good
You will have heard this paraphrased sentence in different guises but the premise remains. Are your standards a little too high? Are you assuming that the sky will fall in if.....you don't do it all yesterday? Our own inner critic or work ethic is developed over many decades and can sometimes be a hinderance to our progress. How perfect do you really need to be? Do your customers, family members or society at large really require you to be so perfect? Are you allowing a pursuit of an unobtainable standard to get in the way of just great? Think about times when you're taking a long time over an activity and assess whether that really is a good use of time or serves your top 3 priorities?
Carve up time
Who doesn't get to the end of the day and wonder where that went? Who doesn't get to the end of the week and the 'to do' list doesn't seem to have got shorter? Try splitting up your days into specific and timed chunks to help you firstly understand that you have the time to do it all, but that you have allocated a slot to do it in. For example, if you've established that you need time to exercise or do daily website updates as part of your top 3 priorities, then work out how long each take (realistically!) and create a timetable for each day. It's so easy to just write a list and start at the top and press go....but there's no structure to that. You could go one step further and use a digital tool or calendar and colour code your days too! I use Google and have yellow for me, pink for Simply tasks and other colours for other projects.
Build new habits
You've heard me talk about habit forming before (there's a downloadable habit tracker in Resources inside Member Hub) but it's a very useful tool to help you achieve what you're trying to. Habits work in different ways and I recommend the 'Atomic Habits' book for more. But...we know it takes at least 30 days to form a habit and that our brain thrives on the positive dopamine hit of ticking off a daily achievement. What new habits would help serve your priorities above or create more space because you've dumped or delegated? Is it daily exercise or 1 hour to yourself each day?