Coffee and keys

Are you feeling out of control lately? What may have started as a mild to moderate spiral with the juggling act of your personal and professional life has now escalated to a full-blown “what is going on??” with the many changes and shifts that have occurred during pandemic life. You are not alone.

The reality is that most people were burning the candles at both ends pre-pandemic to make it all happen. While some things may have gotten easier as quarantine became the new normal (maybe your commute got a whole lot shorter?), many things just got more jumbled and uncertain. While the tactical responsibilities to keep our careers on track and our families nurtured have continued to pile on, it’s been easy to lose focus in the at-home normal and get lost in the shuffle of the ultra-combined daily life.

Here are three steps you can mindfully take to regain some clarity and control of your daily life to feel calmer and more fulfilled as you move throughout your day.

  1. Identify the million thoughts.

The first step into getting control of your mind and daily life is first to understand what you are trying to take control of. What are all of the monkeys in your circus? Without concerning yourself with a structure or pretty words,  jot down all of the things that are flying around in your brain, from the little nagging to-dos to the fire-eating dragon that is breathing down your neck. Keep writing until your brain settles down and you feel as though you have sufficiently captured them all.

2. Prioritize.

Prioritizing the to-dos in your million thoughts will yield a mini-action plan that you can begin to tackle with a focused approach.

Create three separate lists for your priorities for your home, work, and social lives. Start with what has to get done in the next 24 hours, then follow that by listing things that have to be done (or show progress) over the next week. Finally, consider breaking down any big and draining tasks into smaller pieces to spread across the next week or two. Remember, progress is progress, no matter how little.

3. Cut yourself a break.

There are things you can implement immediately to make your life more manageable and allow you to feel more confident and in control.  Don’t underestimate the power of giving yourself permission to take a break. That doesn’t mean you abandon responsibilities, but it does mean you can take yourself off the clock for an hour, an evening, or a day.  Implementing micro-strategies to help you recharge and feel more fulfilled throughout the day is critical to your overall health and life satisfaction.  Here are a few ideas to infuse gratification into your quest to tackle your lists:

  • Go off script for self-care. Set your list aside and do something just for you. Go for a walk. Take a nap. Watch your favorite show. Meditate. Do something to make your brain happy and calm.
  • Reimagine your to-dos. For example, can the grocery run go from a chore to a secret escape for alone-time? Perhaps you treat yourself to your favorite coffee on your way there, or you listen to a fun playlist or podcast while you roam the aisles, or you break out of your usual route and go to a different/better store for a change of scenery.
  • Celebrate! Once you do something on your list, take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment. You might brag to your spouse, or order a little gift for yourself, or do an activity that you really love and rarely make time for.  You’ll find that committing to celebrations along the way creates a great sense of fulfillment and reduces the stress associated with busy daily and weekly schedules.

Remember that it takes time to form new habits, but by pausing when you start to feel your world spinning you can regain control and your self-confidence.