We’re living in a wild time.
Normally, when you come home after a long day of working, your mindset shifts because your brain and body experience content switches. Now, we don’t have that, because everything is fluid. Do you even have any idea what day it is anymore?!
If you’re struggling with the current situation, know that that’s totally normal. That’s totally okay. If you’re feeling afraid, feel it. Feel the fear and do it anyway. The solution to fear is not to ignore it, but to embrace it.
Here’s the thing: the solution to chaos is control. We can all agree that the situation we’re living in is pretty chaotic. So the answer is to add some routines and rhythms, and that’s what we’ll be looking at in this post.
Usually, although I work from home, I start my day by working out with my personal trainer and grabbing a ginger tea at my favourite coffee place. Now, that’s obviously not possible.
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We’ve lost our typical context switches, so now we need to start creating our own. We need to create triggers for our brain and our bodies, so that we know ‘now is on-time, and now is off-time’. Otherwise, your body has no clue what’s going on.
If you have a baby, you’ll know that babies are used to rituals. Take bedtime. It starts by changing into some cosy pyjamas, followed by turning the lights down and reading your favourite story. That signifies bedtime for the baby. You don’t just put the baby in the crib in their day clothes that they’ve been watching Dora The Explorer all day in, and expect them to go straight to sleep. Right now, that’s what we’re doing to ourselves.
The structure that a baby needs is basically the structure that we need.
You might find yourself procrastinating a lot during this time. That’s totally normal. But the solution to procrastination is ACTION. That’s right. Hate to break it to you, but if you want to break free from procrastination, you’re gonna need to jump into action so that your mindset will follow.
So there are three sentences I want you to remember.
The solution to chaos is control.
The solution to procrastination is action.
And the solution to fear is not to ignore it, but to embrace it.
Now let’s jump into how you can bring some control back into your life.
Step 1: Create your daily schedule (including your personal non-negotiables).
For me, I use a whiteboard. I write “Amy’s daily routine”, and then include the things that are important to me, like mindset work, reading, and working out. Hang up the whiteboard and discuss it with your partner or the people you live with. Manage expectations together. Make sure they know when you’re ‘together’, and when you’re ‘at the office’ in your personal bubble.
Step 2: Design 3 goals for your work this week.
If you’re anything like me you’ve got a million things you could be doing. Too much freedom can be confusing. Pick three goals for yourself for the week. For me, I want to work on my personal storybrand ebook, for example. Setting goals helps you to eliminate stress – and that’s the last thing we want at the moment. You don’t have to take on too much, but just set 3 basic work goals..
Step 3: Plan your workweek in your calendar.
Plan your calendar in a way that works for you. Sometimes, I find myself getting overwhelmed by people needing things from me, and it can get stressful managing all the requests. Now, I plan buffer time into my day, so I can respond to requests from my team without feeling like I’m always putting out fires. I’ve also planned my calendar ahead for April, so when client requests come in, I know what I’m able to give.
My main message here is don’t rely on willpower. Willpower doesn’t exist right now. You need structure and control. Remember the baby watching Dora The Explorer? We need to create our own little routines and rituals that help our brain identify a context switch.
1. Start your day phone free.
It’s exhausting to be always ‘on’. Even if you keep your phone in the other room, don’t roll out of bed and run straight to hop onto Instagram.
2. Have your first 3 to 5 steps very clear.
They don’t have to be complicated: literally making coffee, going to the toilet, brushing teeth, and doing a brain dump. That’s something I’ve started again recently. There’s a lot of stuff in my head thanks to all the creative white space. I go and sit down with my coffee, and just start writing.
3. Get ready for your day.
Shower, do your hair, put on makeup, put on your sexy underwear. Hell, put on heels if you want! Maybe it’s your daytime sweats instead of your pyjama sweats. Whatever works for you. You’re going for that context switch.
4. Work on your proactive goals first.
Remember the 3 work goals you wrote down earlier? Start your day on one of those. Maybe it’s a passion project that will be of value to your business. You know that if you can ignore the rest of the world, pure passion will flow because it’s something you love doing. Shoot for those goals first thing.
5. Dive into the always-on shitstorm later.
All the reactive stuff – the emails, the admin – if you hate that stuff, leave it for later. If you start off with that, you’ll never get to the proactive goals.
6. Create a Trello board for your daily to dos
I usually don’t use Trello, but at the moment I’m using it on a daily basis. I fill in all the small but important stuff I have to do, like check in with the Slack boards from my businesses. It’s helpful because I need to know that I’ve done each of those things. Don’t forget your daily to do’s in the midst of this crazy time. We still need to get around to our daily responsibilities.
Having said that, don’t let yourself get trampled by other people’s priorities – set your own rigorous schedule first! Keep your phone on do not disturb. Set up an online calendar for calls. Remember – this isn’t a vacation! It’s an opportunity to make your life happen. Or not. I don’t want to give you too much pressure, but now is a great time to get around to those things you’ve always wanted to do.
1. Wrap everything up
You had your context switches in the morning, and now it’s time to do the same for the evening. Wrap up your work for the day, and make a list of what you need to do for the next day. I use my Master Workfile to keep everything in one place for me and my team. If you’re interested in that, I’ve got a course about time management and you can score my Master Workfile template for €22 off with the code ‘TIMEWARRIOR’.
2. Clear up your desk
This is a great context switch for your body and brain. Tidy away your desk or table, close your notebook and laptop, and put everything away ready for the next day. Your brain will recognise this as the symbol of the end of the day, and you’ll be ready to chill.
3. Change your outfit
Just like you put your ‘nice’ clothes on in the morning, it’s time to do the opposite. Change into your comfy clothes, and take off your makeup. Using your senses helps with the context switch – put some lotion on, or make a nice hot drink.
I know what it’s like to not have your shit together. I used to be like that, always eating chocolate and not taking care of myself. I wanted to share how I got out of that state, so I created this Get Your Shit Together training that you can now access for free (never before!).
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