1st May 2015

This Mother’s Day, Reclaim Your Power

As corporate executives, managers, team leads, road warriors, entrepreneurs, board members, committee chairs – we’ve got a lot on our plates. Add in the family, the partner, the kids, the schedules, the house, the errands, the day-to-day-life – and we’re overwhelmed.

At the center of all this? You.

It’s time to reclaim YOUR power and control over YOUR life.

What’s possible for you when you make this commitment to yourself? A more consistent spark of inspiration and innovation, fun, peace, calm, joy.

The perfect time to reclaim your power? Mother’s Day – YOUR day.

Here are my go-to favorite strategies to shift from a place where you’re always reacting to a place where you respond and are in greater control of your day. Because the more you feel in control the more time and space you clear for fun, inspiration and joy.

Batch or group like tasks. Batching or grouping like tasks increases your efficiency without any extra effort on your part. For example, make all of your phone calls at one time, process your email at one time, or review project proposals from vendors at one time. Switching between disparate tasks is highly inefficient because it takes our brains so long to reengage with the task we switched from and to remember what we were actually doing. Work on the same type project or task and increase your output.

Work in vacation mode. Have you ever noticed what happens before a vacation? Your inbox is magically cleaned out, projects are wrapped up, and your desk is cleared off. I call this the vacation phenomenon. The vacation is a hard deadline. You are going to be on a sandy beach holding a drink with an umbrella in it on Saturday afternoon. As a result, you have to get the work done before you go. Consider working in vacation mode even if you are not going on a vacation by creating hard stops to your work day. For example, schedule a fun activity after work that has a hard start time – a movie, a play, or a sporting event. Watch what happens to your productivity during the day.

Create a stop doing list. As your responsibilities continue to expand at work, you keep adding tasks and projects to your to do list. But, you never take anything off of the list. Take a hard, critical look at your projects and tasks and ask yourself if each project is still relevant. Think about whether they’re directly tied to the organization’s strategic goals and/or have a significant return on time investment. There are probably a few tasks and projects lurking on your list that need to be moved to the stop doing list. No one is going to miss them.

Decide what is good enough and stop. Do you know what good enough is for each of the projects on your list? This is good enough for the organization and good enough for you. Overthinking, over editing and over tweaking wastes valuable time and is not necessary. Do good work, and then stop.

Multitask with caution.Our brains cannot perform two tasks at the same time well. How often have you been on a conference call and maybe it drags on a bit so you decide to check email. You begin processing email and then you hear your name being called. Oh no! You have no idea what was just said. If you must multitask, be very cognizant of the trade-off that you are making.

Stop fighting nature.Our brains are hardwired to function in very specific ways. So, no matter how much you try or wish for your brain to function differently it will not. According to David Rock, a neuroscientist, your capacity to make decisions and solve problems is limited by your energy-hungry prefrontal cortex. There is a limit to how much information can be held in the mind and manipulated at any one time. So, don’t ask your brain to remember the 15 items you need at the grocery store, your schedule for next week and your ideas for your new project at work. It is not wired to function this way. Use a task list. It is ultimately more efficient and it enables your brain to do what it does best – think about things not of things.

Make your technology work for you, not against you.Today’s technology is powerful – very powerful. However, we often abdicate our own power when we are working with technology. We let it guide and direct us. It pings, dings, or rings and we jump. Turn off the technology so you can focus and complete work. Leverage all of the technology tools available to you in your email program by writing rules, color coding incoming emails and auto-filing messages. Take back control and make your technology do all of the heavy lifting.

Get back in the driver’s seat of your day by making your time work for you not against you. Leverage the natural efficiencies that can be gained by completing work in groups. Set and adhere to hard stops in your work day. Remove tasks and projects from your to do list that are no longer aligned to your goals, nor your organization’s goals. Know what good enough looks like for you and then stop when you reach good enough. Multitask with caution. Stop fighting nature. Make your technology work for you, not against you. Stretch your time today and enjoy your extra minutes!

What are you going to do today to take back control of your day reignite joy in your life? Mother’s Day is YOUR day to figure out what will work best for YOU.