Dear Awesome Woman,
Ever have time on your hands where you’re determined to get a ton of stuff done? You have that feeling of excitement and your eyes on all that you’ll accomplish by the end of the day – all the checks you’ll mark off on your to-do list. But at the end of the day, you sit in wonder at all that didn’t get done?
I’ve experienced this too many times to count.
Finally, after getting tired of shaming myself for all that I didn’t accomplish, I developed a simple system for getting stuff done and feeling good at the same time. With this system I’m able to replace the feeling of overwhelm and failure with a feeling of accomplishment and self-satisfaction.
I’ve named it Fabulous 15. Basically, it’s doing things in chunks of 15 minutes.
Regardless of whether I have an hour or 3 hours, I set a timer (an inexpensive, digital kitchen timer from Target is easy to use) and go about doing one task at a time in 15 minute increments. The timer is nearby, but facing it away from me, allows me to concentrate on what I’m doing instead of on the time. I’m amazed how long 15 minutes really is!
When the timer rings, I either stop the task I’m doing or if I desire to stay with this task, I set it for another 15 minutes and continue onward.
Let’s say I had an hour and these things on my to-do list : laundry, organize desk, pay bills, read, exercise and make appointments.
In picking one task at a time and allotting 15 minutes to it, something does get accomplished – perhaps not the entire thing, but enough for me to say “hey, I got somewhere with this.”
Basically, it’s being realistic with my energy and my time.
It’s so easy for me to put a thousand things on a to-do list and in my vivid imagination actually complete all of them. Reality is such that not only will those thousand things not get done, but I tend to stick some very unpleasant labels on myself at the end of the day. All that gets accomplished is a headache and low mood. Sound familiar?
Fabulous 15 also is a great way to add kindness and health to your day. Many times I find that while I’m involved in a task, for example, bill paying, I may not notice that my shoulders are clenched and I’m feeling irritated. I’ve basically been in the sympathetic nervous system of hyper-focusing which fills my body with stress hormones (see Word Play article). When I hear the beeping of the timer, it’s a reminder to take a breath, relax my shoulders and give myself a kind thought of accomplishment. This physical movement takes me into the parasympathetic nervous system (peace, I like to call it) and a softer focus. The less stress hormones running thru the body the healthier the body is with less aches and pains (back or neck pain, anyone?).
Taking that breather, literally and figuratively, also opens our mind to our intuitive wisdom and the ability to make choices (that’s the open focus). From this state of mind, I may choose to continue the task or go on to another one, but I’ve given myself a moment of kindness.
So, try it and see how it feels. I call it Fabulous 15 because there is a realistic gift of completion for oneself. Those tasks at hand will always be there for as long as we are a soul in a body, but taking a chunk out of that “pusher” energy that fuels stress and negative labels is an act of kindness and health. See how much better it feels to say “wow, I really did a lot today.”
And don’t forget to mix in activities that bring you joy – even 15 minutes of gardening, resting or collaging will feel fabulous!