This is part of our 10 day "Boss of Me" email / blog series, action tips for common midlife stumbling blocks.
#6 in our Series was "I often feel distracted".
Today, we'll tackle that feeling of always being behind.
Honesty time - I am wrestling with this right now. Last fall, I imposed a challenge schedule on myself. It has had some great results but, as all plans do, some things came up and I had to push out a deadline. That puts everything else behind then, too.
I can see it’s not sustainable in the long run - I have been working in “just in time” mode and the maintenance of my personal and business administrative life is getting behind.
I have a plan for February to get caught up. I can’t wait. But I am.
In the past I rarely had an overall strategy, so when things got off track a bit I did stop "to get caught up" - and that killed the momentum I had built up. I would be “caught up” but to where? Often I lost interest after that, too. It wasn’t very motivating to say the least.
This is why its helpful to have your long term goals clear and present, all the way down to your daily to-do list. They are not set in concrete, because life happens and we adjust, but long term goals do provide an anchor for today’s energy.
In the meantime, I’ve asked for help and delegated a few things when I finally saw that if I didn’t, the entire challenge would grind to a halt.
Get some help or delegate - this is the male version of multitasking. They delegate.
This gets confusing and emotional because for a very long time, men have delegated to the women in their lives. When women started working in the male dominated workplace in the 60’s, they didn’t have the second half of the equation - the wife at home. They WERE the wife at home. In many cases, women still have the majority of responsibility for domestic life and they face the second shift when they walk in the door.
Studies and our own observation tell us that women are better at juggling than men. We tend to lean on this skill, but it does affect our energy.
Pretend you know how to juggle for real. Maybe you do!
You spend energy and focus to keep a few balls in the air at the same time. Add more balls to the juggle, that’s more energy and focus. Then add more time to all of that and how are you going to feel at the end?
How are you going to feel if you feel it will never stop?
So if you feel behind, is it a temporary or chronic situation? If its temporary but getting worse, can you get some help?
If you look at successful women, they have the confidence to ask for help, and if that involves hiring someone, they do that too. That is where I got stuck in the past.
If its an ongoing situation - you always feel behind - try simplifying your life first.
Whether you have money to hire someone or not, simplify first. The more stuff you have, the more there is to delegate. Simplifying will make managing outside help easier, and it can also make a hard conversation about getting more help from your partner and kids (if they are in the picture) easier if there is less stuff to negotiate.
After you simplify, delegate, hire or barter for some help.
And last pitfall to watch for - if your partner agrees to help, don’t nitpick the results.
I live with a Mexican man who didn’t grow up with much security or stability. He interrupts the laundry wash cycle to soak the clothes, and then saves the rinse water to wash his car. This drives me crazy because a load of laundry takes 2 hours instead of 45 minutes, especially if he forgets he stopped the cycle.
He has an unconscious fear of not having food for later, so he doesn’t like to finish off a serving. He has a hard time throwing plastic containers away. Now I see why he hoards them - we end up with several random plastic tubs in the fridge with a couple tablespoons of food. He can stretch one avocado for a week and he never throws food away, ever.
But he also cleans up most of the time and is happy to do laundry at least half the time. I'm not going to bug him about his quirks, which I have to admit are less wasteful than my habits.
So if your partner doesn’t load the dishwasher the same way you (and your mother) do, or they miss a spot vacuuming, or the kids socks don’t match that day - who cares? Accept that it’s done, thank them, and move on knowing you can finally start to feel ahead instead of behind.
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All My Best -
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Got time for one more?
Boss of Me Series #6 - I'm Distracted
Boss of Me Series # 8 - I'm Worried About Money