Episode 37: How to make order in the chaos with this simple routine

Are you looking for a little order in the chaos right now?

Have you been struggling with an unpredictable schedule?

Does it feel like you simply don’t have control over your time anymore?

Then you’re in the right place, my friend.

Because in this week’s podcast I’m sharing my favorite, simple strategy to create a flexible routine no matter how crazy the schedule.

Practice this approach regularly, and you’ll make progress on your goals no matter how busy things get.

Listen to the podcast below and find out how!

(Prefer to read? No problem. Keep scrolling for the full transcript.)

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE!

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL DISCOVER…

  • The value of maintaining a routine in unpredictable situations
  • One powerful question that provides you with both clarity and direction for your goals
  • How to implement this strategy daily to start moving forward today

LINKS FROM THE PODCAST

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QUESTION:

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Transcript: How to make order in the chaos with this simple routine

Hey friends, welcome to the podcast. How’s it going? Thanks for joining me today. I know that if you’re listening in real-time, there are many of you who are no longer commuting to and from work or driving your kids to and from school, which is often peak-podcast listening time. So I especially appreciate you finding some time to tune in. You’re awesome.

I also want to remind you that in a few weeks I’m going to do a listener Q&A episode where I answer all of the questions you have right now, whether it’s about creating new schedules, working toward goals, managing your emotions, practicing gratitude, handling challenging relationships, whatever is on your mind. Keep the questions coming – send them via email paula@imbusybeingawesome or on Instagram @imbusybeingawesome and I’ll add them to the list.

Now, if you’re listening to this in real-time, we are still in the thick of COVID 19, and many of us are working through a lot of unpredictability in our lives. 

But with that being said, if you are listening to this several years later, chances are, you still also have some sort of unpredictability in your life. So don’t skip past this one.

Because the truth is this — as humans, we always have something going on in our lives that we are working through. Usually, it’s something felt on a more acute scale – maybe it’s a personal challenge or something concerning your family or your business or the company you work for – not necessarily a worldwide pandemic. But, chances are you have some sort of unpredictable situation going on right now in some area of your life.

So in this episode, I will use some examples relevant to our current situation overall, but these strategies are absolutely applicable at any time in your life.

General Impact and Unpredictability

Now, when we think about our current situation and the unpredictability that we face, I tend to see it impacting us in three general categories. 

First, we see the unpredictability in terms of the virus and its impact on our physical health. So people have concerns and worry over the health and well-being of ourselves, of our families, of our loved ones, of our friends, things like that. 

The second category focuses on the unpredictability of the economy, whether that means the stock market, or job security, or unemployment benefits, or whether there is enough toilet paper available, etc. 

And the final category is the unpredictability in our daily lives. This is the change in our routines, it is the strong, often-unfamiliar emotions that we are suddenly dealing with on a more intense level or more frequent level, that kind of thing.

So we have these three overarching areas in which we may be experiencing thoughts of unpredictability and “chaos.”

Allow Your Emotions

Now I know that for some of you, simply hearing me list those things may have brought up some anxious emotions for some of you. And as we talked about in the last two episodes – 35 and 36, it’s absolutely okay for you to feel those emotions and there are also ways to actually experience and work through those feelings so you can start feeling better. 

And I think that when we experience these immediate emotional reactions, it offers a powerful opportunity to check in with ourselves and figure out why we are having such a strong emotional response. Why is it that we are reacting in such a strong way in one area and not another?

And that’s actually something I have been fascinated by when I go on Facebook or listen to the news or talk with friends recently. Because, you can ask 10 people how they’re feeling and what they’re most worried about, and you will – almost certainly – get 10 different answers. 

Because again, it all comes back to our thoughts and what we’re choosing to focus on. We are all choosing to think about and focus on different things within our shared experience.

It’s the same circumstance. We are experiencing this Global pandemic. But we are all thinking about it in slightly different ways, which is causing us all to feel differently in response.

Let Go of Control – Circumstances

Now when we think about these three areas that I mentioned: our thoughts about the actual virus, our thoughts surrounding the economy, and our thoughts concerning our individual lives, the first thing I want to remind you is that we don’t actually have control over these circumstances. We don’t have control over what the virus does. We don’t have control over how other people choose to act or what they say.

And while this might sound like another major downer, I actually think it’s a really powerful reminder that provides me with some relief. And let me explain why that is.

You see, when I remind myself that I don’t have control over what other people do or don’t do. And I don’t have control over how the economy unfolds. And I don’t have control over what’s happening with the virus. Then, I stop trying to control the uncontrollable. I stop fighting with reality. I stop fighting with what it is. And instead, I focus on what I do have control over.

Take Back Control – Thoughts, Feelings, Actions

I remind myself that I have complete control over what I choose to think.

I have control over how I choose to feel.

And I get to choose how I act in each of these circumstances. 

And when I take back that control, and I remember that I get to choose how I show up in every situation, I feel that sense of stability again. I feel that certainty that – moments ago, felt like it was slipping away.

Create Order in Your Life

Now, one of the ways that I choose to show up in this otherwise unpredictable situation is through creating structure and order for my life. 

About a month ago, I explored this idea a bit in episode 34, which was all about how to get organized when you’re working at home. And as I’m sure my fellow type-A people can relate, having that predictability, that sense of control, and that feeling of consistency, can often provide a lot of reassurance and grounding for a person. 

And while this might not be true for everyone across the board at all times in life, I do think that when we enter a more unpredictable season of life, we as humans do respond well to creating that sense of familiarity in different ways.

Strict vs. Rigid Schedules

Now, I also know that not all of you are major fans of strict schedules. I know many of you are generally more comfortable with a flexible, go-with-the-flow kind of schedule. And what’s more, I know that many of you are working, you have kids, you might also be juggling your side hustle. Perhaps now you’re currently trying to homeschool as well.

And truth be told, in these more unpredictable seasons of life, this more flexible, go-with-the-flow attitude can serve us quite well. In fact, I think that’s a beautiful thing that I am trying to embrace more in my life since my tendency is to lean toward the rigid predictability. (Or as others might call it – super strict and boring)

Creating a Flexible, Simple Routine

So today, I am sharing with you my newest, simple strategy to create a flexible, yet consistent routine that keeps you moving forward on your priorities even when things feel unpredictable. 

Now, this topic was inspired by several different things. It was inspired by conversations with my clients. I found inspiration in the Instagram messages and emails from you listeners. It was inspired by my own experience with this more unpredictable situation. And it was inspired by one of my Mastermind group members who offered this brilliant question during our meeting the other week – so shout out to Alex for that.

And this is a simple strategy that you can start using immediately in order to help you create some structure in your life, to keep you consistently moving forward on your most important priorities, and to also allow for some flexibility if and when changes in your plans come up. 

I have been using it for about 2 weeks now, and it has really been effective for me. I feel like I am continuing to move forward on my most important goals each week, but it’s also allowing me to roll with the punches and make adjustments whenever necessary without feeling like my whole day was lost in the chaos.

Ask Yourself This Simple Question

Now, this strategy basically revolves around asking yourself one simple question. And you can expand this question, which I’ll explain in a minute — to all different areas of your life.

So at its most basic, the question that I suggest you ask yourself every single day is this.

What is the one thing that I can do today that will move me forward the most on X? 

Then take a moment, consider the question, and answer it. This is your priority item for the day.

Now, I realize that this sounds like a super simple strategy. In fact, it almost seems like it’s too simple to make a difference. But I’m telling you, don’t ignore it because of its simplicity. Instead, give it a try. And in fact, I encourage you to try it for a week every day – it hardly takes any time, so it’s not a big investment, and what’s more, it is ridiculously effective.

How to Use This Strategy

So let’s talk about how to actually put this question into practice.

Identify Your Top Priorities

The first thing I recommend doing is identifying your top priorities right now. What are the things that you really want to focus on in your life right now? And this can be both big things and small things. And they will be unique to each person listening. 

So as you think about your own answer to this question, just keep thinking: I am identifying my top priorities, not all of the things that would be nice to do. These are my very top, most important things.

To give you an example, I honed in on three top priorities: my coaching clients, my coaching business – so the actual behind the scenes and creating the podcast and social media, etc., and my personal care and relationships.

So first identify what your top priorities are. And you don’t have to choose 3. Maybe you just have 1. Or many you have 2 or 4. I wouldn’t recommend having more than 5, because it is easy to get overwhelmed.  

So take some time and identify the ones for you. And if you don’t know what your top priorities are, you should definitely scroll all the way back to episode 7, where I explore several different strategies to help you identify your top priorities.

Ask Yourself the Question for Each Priority Item

Then, I ask myself that simple question that I just mentioned three different times. And I do this every single morning when I sit down to do my thought work and self-coaching.

I ask myself: what is the single most important thing that I can do today to move my coaching business forward? What is the single most important thing that I can do to help my clients? And what is the most important thing that I can do today to move my personal and relationship goals forward?

Now when I ask myself these questions, often the answer immediately comes to mind. It pops in pretty quickly. 

There are other times, however, where I will have several tasks that I think are number one. And then I have to step back and really reflect on why I think they are all my number one priority. 

I question my thoughts around it. I question why I want to avoid some and do others. And I spend some time getting clear on the top three things that are going to move me forward the most for my top priority areas.

Multiple Answers

Now, your brain may also start coming up with a million other things that you could be doing or should be doing. That’s fine. You can write them down, too. And you can also gently remind yourself that you can do those things if you have time at the end of the day after you’ve focused on your priorities. Because you’ve already decided that those priority items are the things that will move the needle the most in all of your endeavors for today. These are the projects that will make the biggest difference.

And chances are, these tasks will change frequently throughout the week. What’s most important one day may not be most important the other. Or maybe you finish one priority item and you can move on to the next the following day. It’s all great.

And similarly, if you do have a long list of important tasks and you truly can’t decide which one is most important, then just pick one and move forward. No big deal. Because if they’re all equally important, then the key is to constrain your focus and just start getting them done one at a time. 

And by taking time to really constrain your focus and asking yourself this one simple – yet powerful – question, you create so much more clarity around what otherwise feels like an unpredictable schedule where you have zero control. 

Put This Into Practice

So what does this actually look like? How do you implement it going forward?

Well, I recommend doing this either the night before or the morning of. And I also highly recommend writing everything down if possible. You may not be a fan of writing things down, but give it a try at least twice. If you’re still not into it, fine. But do yourself a favor and just give it a try.

Decide When You Will Plan

So first, identify when in your day you’re going to work on this — whether it’s the night before or first thing in the morning, and then sit down with your notebook. 

Identify Your Top Priorities

Next, identify your top most important priorities. Again, these things are probably going to stay consistent. As I mentioned, my three top priorities are my clients, my business, and my personal growth and relationships. And that’s what they pretty much always are. 

Ask Yourself the Question

Then, you are going to ask yourself, what is the single most important thing that I can do today in order to move this priority forward? Once you’ve identified it, write it down. Then move on to the next priority and ask yourself the same question. Answer this question for all of the priorities that you identified.

Identify Obstacles

Now, it might be tempting to just stop there. But I encourage you to spend just an extra few minutes creating some strategy around how you’re going to get these items done.

The way I recommended doing this, is identifying what obstacles or challenges you anticipate will get in the way of actually doing these things. What do you think is going to come up for you? Do you anticipate your kid not taking her nap? Do you anticipate your boss needing to make an extra Zoom call? Or do you anticipate the change in your kids’ homeschooling routine?

Spend some time identifying what you realistically think could pop up throughout the day that would hold you back from getting these top priorities completed. Then, create some strategies — this is the back-up plan if you will — so that you know you can get them done even if those obstacles come up.

This strategy is sometimes called “if-then planning.” 

So if my daughter does not sleep during her nap this afternoon, then I will work through my inbox after she goes to bed at night.  

Or if our homeschooling schedule changes around today, then I will ask my husband to make dinner so that I can reach out to my clients during that time.

So identify the obstacles and create strategies to get through every one. 

How Do You Need to Think and Feel?

Finally, spend some time identifying how you need to both think and feel about these top priorities in order to get them done throughout the day. And again, these feelings and thoughts will probably change as well depending on what the tasks are, what’s going on that day, etcetera.

So how do I need to feel in order to create my podcast outline this afternoon? That was my top business priority today. Do I need to feel motivated, do I need to feel committed, do I need to feel determined, do I need to feel excited? 

Spend some time identifying what you need to feel in order to follow through on that step. Then, ask yourself what you need to think to yourself in order to feel that way. Because remember, our thoughts create our feelings and our feelings drive our actions, which ultimately create our results.

Put the Plan Into Action

And once you have all of this information – which may sound like a lot but can easily be done in 10 minutes – then it’s time to go about your day. And because you have spent time thinking about what your general schedule looks like, and where you should be placing your most intense focus. You’ve already planned for what might come up throughout the day, and how you will overcome those obstacles, you are able to approach your day with clarity and follow-through.

And even if you are in the midst of chaos, and surrounded by unpredictability, you know that you have spent time identifying what’s most important to you. You are making strides toward those end goals. And you chose deliberately how you want to show up in these situations. And with that, you are taking back so much control by creating a bit of structure and clarity in your life.

Let’s Talk

Now, I know that many of you are working hard to establish some structure and consistency in your life right now. And if you’re having a hard time creating that plan. If you’re feeling overwhelmed. Or if you feel like there’s simply not enough time in the day, or it seems like the day always gets away from you, then I would love to help you create that sense of structure. I’d love to help you create a plan for yourself that adds some order to the chaos.

Simply head to imbusybeingawesome.com/freesession and grab a time that works for you. We’ll talk through what your days look like, create a schedule for your current situation – whether it’s super flexible or highly strict and detailed – and you’ll be ready to take on anything. So again, head to imbusybeingawesome.com/freesession sign up for a slot, and I’ll take care of the rest.

Also, be sure to head to today’s show notes and grab the free workbook that I created, which walks you step by step through this process we talked about today. It is filled with all of the prompts and questions to get your focused on your top priorities and making plans to see them through. 

Simply head to imbusybeingawesome.com/episode37 – all one word – grab your workbook, and start taking back control of your time.

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