Now, you may only be noticing this in other people of course, and may be experiencing great periods of inner calm and Zen-like control of your Inbox! In case not, this set of strategies is for you. And the focus I’m taking here is on how you can be filling upyour own tank – emotionally, mentally and spiritually – so you have the energy to live your day fully and offer your best to others.
As soon as we start feeling under the hammer at work, or in demand at home, with no space for ourselves, the wheels start falling off. Why not start now to shape your year as one of energy, capacity and therefore fullness in every sense of the word.
Warning: this will require you to start putting your Self further up the priority list! Here goes …
Own Your Diary
This came up a lot with clients last year and this week someone said to me “I feel in control of my diary for the first time in my life. It’s great!” Feeling in control of how you spend your time is crucial to basic levels of happiness and peace of mind. So, how well are you putting lines around your time, shaping your week to suit you, and feeling in control of your time? How do you do it when there are demands from all corners of your life?
HOW? Map your ideal week. Firstly draw five columns on a page, one for each day of the work week. Draw big chunks of time in for all major activities such as a day of sales calls, or an afternoon working on a project. Include regular meetings, an hour for admin tasks, travel time to and from appointments/ meetings, all important personal activities including yoga/gym, etc. Choose a chunk of time that is to be meeting-free where you don’t make yourself available – whether it’s Tuesdays, or two mornings a week.
Then put this into your diary – your paper book or your electronic diary. You may even like to go really crazy and colour-code certain activities if you’re using a programme like Outlook (I only colour code two things – exciting client work I am booked to deliver, and holidays). Use recurring appointments for everything that happens weekly or monthly.
When you next go into your diary to arrange a meeting, you’ll instantly know which time slots this will fit into and therefore what two or three time options to offer to the other person. I used to get nervous about doing this, and not keeping the options more open or letting them offer a time, but they’ll pick one. It works.
Only you can own your time and your diary. And until you claim this space for yourself, no one else will respect your time.
A great article in the latest Good magazine talks about the value of day dreaming, quoting emeritus psychology professor and author Michael C Corballis and his book, The Wandering Mind: What the Brain Does When You’re Not Looking. Rightly pointed out is the tendency historically for daydreaming to be considered a waste of time, or at best a little extravagant – in our very recent history (and possibly even now in some cases) children were told off for looking at the ceiling or staring out the window. Many workplaces still over-value people staring at computer screens for 8+ hours a day. It’s very old-school folks.
It is just this kind of wondering and wandering in a more lackadaisical fashion that allows our creativity to flow. We’ve all had one of those wonderful ‘aha’ moments stepping out of the shower or pulling weeds in the garden. This may seem an ‘accident’ but it is perfect brain behaviour.
Corballis points out that daydreaming is also how we tend to review our past experiences to make better decisions for the future; whether that is thinking about something that went wrong and how to correct it for next time, or perhaps even wondering how we can make the most of something that is good in our life.
HOW? Let yourself relax and wander in your mind through the day. Simply removing the expectation you have of yourself to do, do, do all day can free up your headspace and improve your energy.
Give yourself space to pause and reflect. Snaffle 20 mins of quiet to yourself at one end of the day. Allow enough time to drive to a meeting so that you can feel the ease that comes with knowing you have time to get there, find a park. And relax. Arriving slightly early at an appointment is often a small gift. Relax, breathe. Be.
Appreciate, Appreciate, Appreciate
If anything can leave us feeling like we’re running on empty, it’s forgetting to notice what IS. What is already around us to enjoy, what we’ve already accomplished, what support surrounds us, and on the list goes. There is solid research telling us how appreciation is nourishing for our whole being – including our physical self. It boosts the immune system which is the foundation of our wellness and energy levels.
HOW? Fill up your tank by doing two things:
1. Practice Appreciation (ideally in a notebook each evening)
Log what you are grateful for today. What small or big things have you been blessed by? Keep it simple. As I sit here writing I am grateful for the fresh air streaming through my home, the lilies opening up and gracing my dining room, my cat purring nearby. What abundance.
Note what you can acknowledge about yourself today. One of my clients recently described this as ‘How am I a blessing?’ which I just love. The fact is, without doing anything, being there for anyone, efforting in anyway, you are a blessing. Fully. Right now. But for many people, their brain and mental habits need to learn how to think in line with this. These questions are simple brain-training. So keep this simple too. You might log things you’ve done or qualities you have you’d like to acknowledge. Eg.‘I cooked dinner for my family tonight’, ‘I was patient with a new employee’, ‘My hair looks great today’, ‘I love the Earth and take care of it the best I can’.
2. Take Time to Appreciate Others
This could be a thank-you for something they’ve done, or acknowledging something in them. This is such a great way for you to both feel good. It fills up their tank, and just offering this kindness and acknowledgment fills up yours. HOW? This is often most meaningful delivered in person and with specifics. When we are more specific about what we’re acknowledging of someone, they experience it more deeply and genuinely.
Offer a compliment to someone (genuinely) and see them light up. Also let go of the outcome – some people don’t easily take compliments. Let them squirm or brush it off if they must, but know you’ve offered them a sprinkling of light and love in your words, and trust it will soak in on some level.
Now you have three simple but sound strategies for filling your own tank up; claim your time, let your mind meander, and practice abundant appreciation. Choose one to play with this week and see what happens.
Seize the day, the week, the month and shape it the way you want it. It’s yours to claim!
Coach – Trainer – Speaker