Here is a quick introductory note from April:
When I was growing up, there were blueprints all over our family room. My dad was an architect, and I actually started editing specs with my sister when we were under the age of 10 (we got 10 cents for every punctuation or spelling error we found).
And anyone who has ever built a home–or walked through a construction zone–or seen something getting built knows it’s not easy. It takes time, money, careful planning, and a lot of work.
So why don’t we all just live and work in tents?
It’s because when we build ‘structure’ into our lives, it gives us protection, comfort, and the freedom to live a life that wouldn’t be possible if we were exposed to the elements.
It’s the exact same thing with mental structure.
The other day, someone in our Facebook group asked if all the structure we are creating with lists, calendars, and project plans makes life too ‘micromanagey’?
I get it. It takes some effort to maintain Inbox Zero, work from a super simple Current Projects List, establish solid routines, and keep clutter out of our lives.
But that structure gives us freedom.
Of course we can each adapt our methods to meet our unique needs, but if you think “flying by the seat of your pants” is the easiest way to go, I beg to differ….
So what do you do when it’s hard?
Have you ever started your day with great plans–and then gotten frustrated or defeated when your plans deteriorated because of situations beyond your control? We, the LearnDoBecome Team, have gathered four ideas from our team members and community to help you out!
1. Give Yourself Grace
This might seem like a “fluffy” way to begin, but honestly–when we are falling short of our expectations, it is important to give ourselves grace. It sounds counter-intuitive, but making a renewed effort to take care of ourselves is essential to keeping us out of “meltdown mode.”
Self care can take a lot of forms:
- Eating nutritiously
- Taking a nap
- Positive affirmations
- And more… April has a Stabilizing Mechanism she uses daily, if you haven’t seen it yet.
Whatever form your self care takes, please don’t make this just another list of “shoulds.” The key piece to using self care to give yourself grace is choosing to focus on activities that help you feel these truths:
I am important.
I am enough.
I am human. But in spite of my faults, I choose to have compassion for myself–right where I am.
If you are struggling to acknowledge these truths, perhaps you have some limiting beliefs that are holding you back. This year April shared an exercise that helped her identify some concrete mindset shifts to help her get “unstuck” – check it out here!
2. Let Routines Help You–Not Discourage You
Now if you are new to routines, we have some excellent resources to help you get started:
- [VIDEO]: Streamline Your Routines in Asana
- [VIDEO]: Clean Laundry and a Stocked Fridge: Our Family’s Routines
- Run Solid Routines on Autopilot
Maybe you already have a routines list, and feel overwhelmed by your routines, because you can never finish it all. Or all your time is spent on routines and you never get to your important projects and goals!
In our recent STEP Boot Camp, April talked about the importance of having a “multiple choice perfect day.” Our routines won’t all happen every day. In most of our ideal routines lists, doing all the routines would probably take 40 hours each day.
Instead, identify which of those routines are most important–a small list that you can definitely knock out of the park every day. These are just the basics, what you need to do to keep life moving forward each day. Work on this small list, making sure you have everything you need to do these basic routines.
If you find you’re neglecting something important, make that one thing your priority for the week or delegate it to someone else.
Once you have these basic routines on autopilot, you can take a step back and look at your values, what you want your life to look like in 10 years, and slowly add routines that fit that vision.
Our LearnDoBecome team member, Danielle, said, “I think routines help us maintain and do the things that matter to us most…but we are not slaves to the routines and we are not answering to the routine list. I have learned a lot about this (the hard way) and one of my favorite things now is to consider A, B, and even C days, where I have different flows for each day, aiming for the things that matter most.”
3. Choose ONE Thing
In our fast-paced lives, it is too easy to overcommit ourselves. Eric likes to call his next actions list a “choice list.” We look at all the opportunities and choices–and want to do it all today. Or feel like we need to finish it all today.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, consider choosing one main thing to focus on for your day. Ask yourself:
What is something only I can do?
What one thing could I do that would give my life better flow?
What is my biggest problem?
Eliminate non-essentials by deleting, deferring and delegating as much as possible.
4. Focus on What You’ve Accomplished
Finally, take some time to celebrate your unplanned successes. These aren’t glamorous accomplishments–just the simple everyday moments that you are grateful for. Things like:
- Listened to a child, friend, spouse, or team member without interrupting
- Stayed up past my goal bedtime to chat with a family member who needed some extra care
- Said a prayer for a stranger
- Actually looked at my food before I ate it (and took time to enjoy it)
- Listened to my favorite playlist
- Walked the dog and enjoyed nature
Take a few minutes each evening for this, and you’ll feel more joy, gratitude and clarity.
Click here to read Danielle’s post that explains how to use this powerful list – or click on the image below to get your own “Happy Success List” template and start right away!
We believe in you. We know that you are worthy of grace. We encourage you to streamline and narrow your focus to the things that are essential. And take some time to celebrate the things that didn’t make your to-do list–but are just as important to strengthening relationships and becoming the person you want to be.
Life is bound to get in the way from time to time, make you feel like you are failing, but there is truly power in having a community to remind each other what is possible. And there is power from above available to help each of us.
Pick just one of these tools to focus on as you make your plans for this week:
- Give yourself grace by intentionally setting aside time for self care.
- Let your routines this week help you by identifying your basic routines and working on just that list.
- Choose one main thing to focus on today.
- Write out your own “Happy Success” list, so you can celebrate the things you’ve accomplished.
Have you used one of the tools here–or another tool–to help you combat frustration and failure? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments below!
Thank you for joining us, as we architect our lives of excellence, strengthen our families, and lean into our goals together.
Come join us!
If you are interested in learning four simple steps to help you stop drowning in piles and gain mental clarity, we now have an on-demand version of our free class that introduces our Steps to Everyday Productivity program! We would love to have you join us!
“…take some time to celebrate your unplanned successes”
YES! That’s the trick, right? Making our plans, yet remaining open to the Spirit. Living in acknowledgment that our organizational structures must always be secondary to (and supportive of) the movement of God’s spirit in our lives.
thank you for this.
And THANK YOU April for sharing your ‘limiting beliefs’ list. I found it very powerful.
STEP on y’all!
I didn’t read everything here tonight because it is late, but I wanted to say how much I appreciate your faith in God. I know that He Is a help to me also. I will finish reading this tomorrow. I have been swamped with the dog rescue and I’m hoping to settle down in the next day or so.
Taryn Wood says
Kathie, thank you for your kind words! We’re grateful to have you with us. Thanks for taking time to comment here!
I’m excited to try the happy success list!
Danielle Porter says
Yes! You can’t go wrong with it…. 🙂
I’ve been using the Next Actions list since I listened to the first free Webcast over a year ago. Thank you for that. In fact, I just wrote one for next week. I use a whole sheet of paper and enjoy drawing the little symbols each week myself. At a glance, I see I have a lot of errands this week, but not much to do on computer or at home. During the week, I write things on the back that need attention soon (but I won’t get to this week) or just things I need to know (like credit card balances). Maybe I’ll use some of the back for Happy Successes. Will need to read the details of that from your link.
Donna Parsons says
the back? like the back of the sheet of paper it’s printed on? like a progressive task list? I’d like to know our credit card balances as well; at least now maybe they’re going down – do you have anything to say about insurance?
maybe your faith in God is what’s drawn me to you as well; just heard of you; never heard of a webcast over a year ago, maybe if had wouldn’t have had the wreck I had?
now having said all that, I feel I must be a STEP or 2 off with this one apparently dealing with when doing the structure is hard….
but this must have embedded itself in my brain because the next day I was working at a Habitat site – another whole issue to be decided whether it actually goes on my list but anyway – there were 2 things that seemed to fit this scenario – both involving doorways where the doors were not going to fit because the doorways were not “square” or, to me, in other words, to fit this analogy – the “structure” was not built correctly – seemed like somebody just “flew by the seat of their pants” but that meant we had to deal with it, limiting our freedom and forcing us to have to focus on correcting the issue so that we could get those doors in but to me it just reinforced the point of building structure correctly in our homes and in our lives – giving us “protection, comfort, and freedom” thank you
Taryn Wood says
Donna, thank you for taking the time to comment here. We appreciate you being part of our community! I’ll include a couple of links that will help to explain some of what is discussed in this post.
https://learndobecome.com/episode26/ This post talks about the “progressive task list” that you mentioned.
https://learndobecome.com/happy-success-list/ This post explains the “Happy List” that Janet mentioned.
Today I was feeling very defeated because it seemed like there were just too many things to address, too many routines to keep, too many tasks, no time for projects etc etc. I did my best to stay focused but I was literally jumping from one thing to the next and before I had a chance to actually finish something, I was called to move on. Then I was called to move on again before finishing, and the day went on and on like that. So in a huff, I MADE myself pick ONE thing to actually finish no matter what. I chose to get my email inbox to zero because I had let it slip and I had a few too many in there and I was overwhelmed. (If my email is at zero or close to it I feel free and in control but if it gets too many in there my whole life feels like chaos). In the process of doing that I came upon this email. And I have to say it was perfectly suited to what I needed today! I am so grateful I did not throw it in my “to read” folder! I actually read it! Honestly though, April and Eric’s email rarely if ever gets put into the “to read” folder. Why? Because I am too excited to read it and it never makes it to that folder! LOL! So, before even reading this blog post I was already doing one of the tools. I picked that one thing I was going to finish! The one OTHER thing I did was allow myself the grace. And that felt absolutely GREAT! I REALLY REALLY needed that. THANK YOU!!!
April Perry says
Megan, I can soooo relate to those days that leave you feeling defeated. Hopefully they’ll get fewer and farther between, but I am incredibly glad you’re giving yourself grace in the process. I think our brains need to feel “done,” but because life isn’t going to ever be “done” until it’s over, there’s a natural stress there. Being part of a community who can strengthen and encourage each other is what I want LearnDoBecome to be. So glad you’re here with us!!
Aniyah Berger says
Awsome – this gave me so much clarity
April Perry says
So happy to hear it was helpful, Aniyah! Thanks for being here with us at LearnDoBecome!