Someone told me this week that they would finally be able to commit to their recovery now that the kids are done with school. Cool I thought. Makes sense. But what happens when they go back? What happens when the chaos returns?
Yesterday this was all I could think about. I was sitting at my dining room table jotting down notes from a podcast on building a business. I was writing on the back of a junk mail envelope while Blake sat in a pile of crayons on the table. Reese sat across from us, talking about a Youtube tutorial that she may or may not shoot. I should probably insert here that she’s four and doesn’t have a Youtube, but whatever. There was shit happening everywhere. Also, I’m going to be honest, I don't know where Riley was. The point is, we all have some form of chaos in our lives and no one has time to wait for the dust to settle.
Let me drive this home even more. At my house, we have three kids under the age of five. I can stop right there and scroll through a list of excuses as to why one thing or another won’t get done today, and I’d be justified in doing so. No one would bat an eye if I sat on the couch and phoned it in. There is chaos in this house from the time the kids wake up until the time they go to sleep. Does that mean we wait another 18 years for a college drop off and house full of quiet before we get to work? NO! How long do you think this life is?
And I know I’m not alone. YOU have kids. YOU have responsibilities. YOU have shit to do. And no one has time to sit around and wait for the storm to subside.
So what do you do? How do you make it work?
The number one reason that people struggle with their recovery is time. They struggle to sift through the chaos of their life and make their wellbeing a part of the equations. With only 24 hours in a day it really comes down to making the most of it. I have become obsessed with hijacking the system and learning to thrive no matter what. These are my top-three life hacks (in no particular order) to getting shit done, even when I have every excuse not to.
Is it just me or are the days FLYING by? I wake up, brush my teeth, do one thing and it’s lunchtime. Like WTF. The harsh truth is that time will eat you up if you don’t schedule it. The biggest thing that’s worked for me lately is mapping out my day by the hour. Yes, the hour. Does shit always go as planned? Rarely. But do I get more stuff done than if I just wing it? Yes.
I categorize each activity - business, classes, kid activities, workouts, calls, even time to read. It’s all color-coded and lives on my phone. Half of the calendar I share with Jovon so that we can schedule accordingly and know what needs to happen with the kids.
Making a visual representation of your dayflow let’s you make the most of your time. The trick is not to overload yourself with things to do every second of every day so that you feel like a failure when none of it gets done. There should be some time to chill. But when you step back and look at the day you should be able to identify areas of opportunity. So if you’re struggling to fit in things like RECOVERY you can carve out 15 minutes here or there to put it in play. We tend to prioritize the things we schedule. So schedule the things that matter and do your best to stick with them.
EXPECTATION MANAGEMENT (START SMALL)
Most of us give up because we mismanage our expectations. We overload ourselves and aspire to be someone we’re not quite yet. I’m all for setting big hairy goals, but the quickest way to get there is to go slow. When we talk about moving forward through the chaos we have to first acknowledge the chaos. If you have a million things to do, you can’t then add a million more. Instead, what are the small things you can do on the daily to establish momentum?
One example of something I’ve started doing this month is journaling first thing in the morning for five minutes. I set a timer on my watch and just write for five minutes. When the timer goes off I stop. Now, if I made my goal something big like writing for an hour or meditating for 2, I’d never be able to commit to that. Instead, I make the habit small and therefore easy to incorporate. And then as I build the habit, day in and day out, I have more confidence that I can actually manage my time more effectively.
Know that you can’t do it all in one day. Be honest with what you can accomplish and give yourself some grace with everything else. One of my biggest downfalls is that I overestimate what I want to do on a given day. At some point I have to accept my level of productivity and readjust expectations. This doesn’t mean I phone it in. It just means that I make a judgement call on what’s urgent and what can wait.
TAG TEAMING YOUR HABITS
If you haven’t read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, get on it. He has this concept of “tag-teaming” your habits to get more things done and I’m obsessed. This simply means that you combine something you HAVE to do with something you LIKE to do. In the morning, I have to feed my children. It’s not a good or a bad thing, it’s just my life. While I make them breakfast, I listen to a podcast. In this way I take care of my kids (have to) while I also learn more about business (like to).
This past month I committed to walking 10,000 steps a day. Sometimes that gets hard to fit in, because it’s time consuming and I have so many other things I want to do. So now, I listen to an audiobook on the treadmill after I put the kids down for bed.
Another example: I tell you guys to fit in your recovery on the regular and trust me, I know it’s hard. So I practice what I preach. The minute I finish my fitness, I do 10-15 minutes of yoga. I pair the two habits together. That way it’s not something out there that I may or may not do. It’s something that get’s done regularly. I KNOW for a fact that I won’t skip a workout, because I love it. So I then pair the thing I love (working out) with the thing that’s often too easy to skip (my recovery). In this way everything gets done and I don’t even think about it.
The applications of tag-teaming is endless and so helpful.
Look, the chaos in your life isn’t going anywhere. At some point it’s time to look at the systems in your life and fine-tune things so that the work gets done anyhow. These are just three of my very favorite approaches. I’d love to hear yours. Let me know some of your favorite life hacks and how you stay focused when you have every excuse not to.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,