Muddy Waters

Do you feel a little lost, like you can’t see what to do next, because there are too many damn things to do? They all seem important, but you only have so much energy, so you choose the easiest, because that’s what you got right now, and you want to accomplish SOMETHING.  You’ve lost track of time, again, and you are beating yourself for not getting it done. 

You want to feel productive! You are always busy, always doing.  But you feel like you are paddling upstream, because at the end of the day you have more things on your to do list than you did that morning.  So you add something to your list you already did, just so you can cross it off and get that dopamine hit.  I literally do that. Do you?

When you try to think, your brain feels muddy with so many things floating around in there.  Have you always felt this way or is this new? There can be so many different reasons for a foggy brain, lack of clarity, and difficulty focusing: diet and nutrition, stress, workload, mental health, lack of balance, lack of priorities, ADHD.  Let’s focus on a few things that could support and shift things for you. 

Shift Your State

Literally.  Get up. Move.  Do jumping jacks. Go on a walk around the block. Stand in a power pose (think superman).  Put on some music (Katy Perry ROAR is a good one for this) and dance around your room.  Take some deep belly breaths on your own or try box breathing: Breathe in for 5, hold for 5, exhale for 5 and hold for 5. Get your blood moving and the oxygen flowing. 

Fuel Up

Drink some water.  Most of us are chronically dehydrated, especially if you live at altitude or are in a drier climate.  Maybe add some electrolytes to it.  Did you sleep well last night? If not, can you take a 20 minute power nap? Now that many of us work from home, this is more accessible than it used to be, and don’t diss it.  Closing your eyes for 20 minutes might be the most productive thing you do all day, reenergizing you for a meeting, creative session, or working on some administrative tasks.  Eat a healthy snack – something with a little protein.  Nosh on an apple or banana with almond butter perhaps, a protein shake, a piece of cheese and some grapes, or a handful of nuts.  

Remember that rest IS productive, important and required for us to be our best.  If you aren’t getting good quality sleep, is there anything you can do to change that? 

Exercise will not only increase your metabolism, strength, and improve your mental health, it also increases your energy over time.   Do something you enjoy, and matches your energy level.  Forcing yourself to do intense exercise when you are exhausted can be counterproductive and wear your adrenals down more. 

Sugar. Ah, the elixir of life, right? Not really.  While it temporarily boosts energy, it is short lived, and the crash and fatigue can be worse than before, giving you the opposite effect of what you wanted, more energy.  Additionally, sugar is linked to poor attention and cognitive function. (https://hms.harvard.edu/news-events/publications-archive/brain/sugar-brain).  This isn’t a nutrition blog, but as a business owner wearing many hats, you deserve to give your business your best brain.  

Know yourself

When are you at your best? When are you not? If you know you are tired after lunch, don’t schedule tasks that take a lot of energy or where you want to show up with energy.  Save your important tasks for your best times of day.  If you know doing your accounting takes all you’ve got, schedule it for when you have more bandwidth, more brain power, instead of on Friday afternoon when you are tired from the week and don’t want to think too hard about anything. 

Decision Fatigue

It’s a thing.  Setting ourselves up for success can mean reducing the number of decisions we have to make every single day.  This looks different for everyone, but a rule of thumb is to plan your week next week on Friday, and plan the next day at the end of the day.  This allows you to manage shifting priorities, things taking longer than expected, etc. while planning ahead.   Waking up and starting your day knowing exactly what you are going to be focused on instead of looking at your massive to-do list and panicking, will save you a lot of energy.  

Decisions also become easier to make when you are clear on your values.  Are you clear on your top five values? Mine are freedom, adventure, health, connection, authenticity, fun and learning.  Ok, that’s seven.  I’m an overachiever.

Space

There’s outer space and inner space, and I’m not talking Star Trek or Honey I Shrunk the Kids.  Outer space looks like buffering your appointments, instead of back-to-back-to-back.  Are you really present with each client when you have no break? Go to the bathroom, drink some water, breathe, do a 3 minute meditation, review your notes, or just stare out the window and clear your head.  Then show up fully and completely.  Outer space also looks like boundaries, scheduling in your yoga class or your lunch walk.

Inner space is more like giving yourself a personal time out.  Sit quietly, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. You can meditate, or you can have your own personal thinking time.

Meditation is misunderstood.  It is NOT about emptying your mind and having no thoughts, because if it was, we would all fail.  We are human.  We have thoughts. A lot of them.  Meditation is redirecting your focus, so as your mind wanders, as it will, you refocus on your breath, and let go of the thoughts.  It is not being attached to them, just observing and letting them pass, like a leaf floating on a river passing by.  

Thinking time starts off similarly, by closing your eyes and being quiet, but you encourage thoughts, ideas.  You can think of a particular problem, or project, and brainstorm.  Or you can connect to a certain energy, visual, a place, or ask a question and wait and see what shows up. 

Just get started

If you are avoiding starting (or finishing) something because either it feels too overwhelming, too hard, or you just don’t like doing it (filing or taxes, anyone?), try setting a timer for a short time, like 15, 25, or 45 minutes, focusing on the task for that time, and at the end, you can choose to move on to something else, set the timer again, or just keep going if you are on a roll. This is known as the Pomodoro technique.  I am loving my new cube timer for this, but you can use the timer on your phone or an old school kitchen timer.  This is great for small tasks, or making progress on bigger projects.  

And speaking of progress, that’s the point.  Let’s make progress, and let go of it being perfect.  We are only human after all.  Often getting something “out there” is better than freezing and waiting until you have the perfect two hours to work on it, or you’ve revised it 5 times already and feeling nervous and hitting “post,” for example on a social media marketing post.  In fact, you may be more approachable if you aren’t perfect, because none of us are, and being authentic and vulnerable are honest, true, and something people are craving more of.  

If you liked this topic and want to take a personalized deeper dive into your relationship with time, book a Discovery Call (free!) to learn more about my Time is Really on Your Side stand alone coaching session (only $97), where we explore time and productivity from your perspective, look at it from different angles, and in one hour you will walk away energized, with new tools to play with to help you get more done and have more fun, as well as some accountability and a scheduled task on a something you’ve been wanting to make progress on for a long time.  Let’s clear the water and get you flowing again. It’s time.

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