6 Strategies for Getting It Done
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
The full title of this post is: How To Get It Done - 6 Strategies for staying on track when it feels like the world is going mad...
We are back in a semi-lockdown in Singapore. All children aged 12 and under are back to home based learning. Work from home is the default. Each of us is able to meet to socialise with one other person at a time. We are only able to have 2 unique visitors to our homes per day.
So all my coaching is over Zoom from home while my partner, who is also working from home, and I have 3 energetic boys home learning, starting today.
I spent some time yesterday thinking about how the hell I was going to get through what is now round 3 of this over the past 18 months. How can I self-calibrate to be a good mum, partner and coach for everyone through this and take good care of myself at the same time?... which of course is HUGELY IMPORTANT!
I decided to share my strategies with you here - I hope they are helpful.
Firstly, it’s important to address the mindset barriers to "getting it done" in a shit storm.
This is a shit storm;
It's too hard, too complicated, too much;
I'm over this;
....are mindset barriers.
They are completely normal, expected and ok to think but they are going to create feelings of frustration, resentment, disappointment or anger. These feelings are most likely to put us in a mode of procrastination or overwhelm when it comes to taking action to get things done.
The strategies I’m sharing with you are designed to engender thoughts and feelings for constructive action and successful outcomes instead.
STRATEGY 1: SELF-CARE
I’ve carved out 20 minutes for myself to start the day. By myself. This is the sign on my office door from 8.30 to 8.50am.
This time is for me to check in with what may be sitting between where I am and my being able to feel at ease. Yesterday I realised that I was missing clarity: I was really feeling the uncertainty with which we are all living in the pandemic. Whatever is showing up for you, recognise it, accept it and then focus for 5-10 minutes of breathing / meditation / mindful practice for relaxation and awareness. Yesterday and today, this has been super helpful for putting me in a calmer state of mind to show up for myself with what I need first… and then, of course, I’m in a better place to show up for my family too. I am also in touch with my naturopath, who has put together a prescribed package of supporting supplements for me, which arrives this afternoon. If you can, try to take Vitamins C and B in the morning for immunity and energetic support and some magnesium at night to aid restful sleep.
STRATEGY 2: THE POWER OF THE BREATH IN ONE MINUTE
When you feel stress / frustration / anxiety rising, in any moment during the day, you can engage the Parasympathetic Nervous System and Vagus Nerve with your breath. These amazing innate physical capacities restore clarity and calm and facilitate the mind-body connection that literally "brings us to our senses" when we are getting lost in stress or frustration.
Take one minute to take 3 breaths with intention. Make the exhale longer than the inhale.
Breath one: focus awareness on how you are feeling - the emotion
Breath two: check in with where you are feeling it in your body - physically
Breath three: ask yourself "What’s important right now?"
In one minute you have brought yourself out of reactive mode and instead to a place of being able to skilfully choose how you want to respond to what is happening.
STRATEGY 3: DE-COMPLICATE YOUR DAY
The night before, or the morning of, break it down - write down everything that you’re involved with getting done: getting kids online, which ones need support for which lessons, work that you need to get done, zooms, calls, emails, meals to be planned for the family now everyone is at home, exercise time because we are all so sedentary again, all of it…
Make each step or task ridiculously easy for the mind to understand. Be super specific. “Start writing that report” becomes “complete section 1 of the report on Tuesday 9-10am”. Be specific and include time for research, calls not going through, whatever. Buffer it. For example: If I’m thinking, “I need to get all three boys set up for home learning”, I’ve honestly no idea where to start. I feel confused and irritated. As a result I go totally into avoidance and we end up at 8am the morning of with no children set up at all for home learning… Fond memories of the first lockdown! But if I know: I will spend 15 minutes with my youngest this evening at 7.30pm to charge his laptop and make sure he has the log on link for his tutor class in the morning, I have two simple things to do with him. I’m clear and calm. As a result he’s ready to go in the morning and the other two have copied us and got themselves set up too.
STRATEGY 4: PICK THE ESSENTIALS
Prioritise. Pick the essentials. For example, I’ve decided that my youngest, who needs some support with online learning, isn’t going to fail his GCSEs if he doesn’t do all his lessons each day. English, Maths and Mandarin are the ones that matter and we’ll do our best to get these done. Good enough is good enough! For my work today, I’ll get this blog posted and supported with my newsletter as essentials. The extra research that I would otherwise have scheduled can wait if it needs to. Good enough is good enough!
STRATEGY 5: TIME-BLOCKING to KNOW THYSELF
When we decide ahead of time we put ourselves in the driving seat. We engage our pre-frontal cortex, the executive functioning part of our brain, over the primitive, reactive parts.
Schedule, time-block, for when you are going to do the tasks / activities that you have specifically identified and prioritised. Also schedule the rest times that your body and brain need - approximately every 90-120 minutes. Schedule it all in your diary. I do this every week religiously, whatever is happening. It’s a godsend at keeping me on track and focused.
This technique of time-blocking has also helped me to be strategic with how I spend my time in life generally. I know my low cognitive load times and put them to use: a half hour of admin - importantly excluding emails that warrant a reply - first thing in the morning works well for me as my brain slowly revs into gear. I’m most creative and productive from 9am to noon. Exercise is always easy and enjoyable at around 3/4pm for me. As you develop the habit of time blocking, experiment to discover the best fit for you - one of the luxuries that comes with working from home.
STRATEGY 6: DEEP WORK
My friends sometimes laugh at me (or complain) for being slow at responding to WhatsApp messages, social media, etc. They are not wrong. My phone is on silent for most of the day and I do not allow notifications from any apps. I also do not ever listen to music or radio or podcasts while I’m working.
I have always worked with singular focus on the task at hand - a habit since childhood - and I know that it makes me more productive than the average person. There is science to support my empirical knowledge and Cal Newport’s book "Deep Work" sets out the same. I know it works from 30 years of experience. Plan ahead for focus time when you can safely have your phone off or you know the kids are engaged elsewhere - perhaps during TV time after lunch or if another adult can help to take care of them for a while. And, if it’s not kids but a very communicative office team that you are managing, be ok with setting the boundary of a meeting time with just yourself for you to do what needs to be done.
A lot of these techniques are helpful not just when it feels like the world is going mad but also when we are struggling with procrastination and overwhelm.
I’ve been helping a few clients with this recently. One client in particular was paralysed by anxiety and overwhelm when we first connected - sometimes unable even to get out of bed. It is wonderful to see that they are now taking charge of their sleep, scheduling their day and empowering themselves to get on the front foot with problem solving. They are happy, experiencing real self-esteem, and, for the first time, feeling in control and enjoying their work! If you are struggling to consistently “get it done” or are feeling overwhelmed by having to react to what is going on around you, get in touch and let’s chat. Coaching will show you how to manage your mind and emotions so that you are back in the driving seat, developing pragmatic strategies for success and happily celebrating new wins. You can book a consultation with me here: