I have been quiet for the past 3 weeks. I only wrote one article and hardly visited my favorite blogs. It is because I had family visiting from Europe. In the beginning, I tried to play catch-up but it didn’t work. So I decided to just go with what was right in front of me—and what mattered the most—family.
Now that my visitors have left, I can start getting back into my normal way of doing things. It is tempting to want to do everything at once, or to feel overwhelmed and start avoiding and resisting. I have work to do, articles to write, financial reports to analyze and a ton of reading. Instead of trying to go back, I am moving forward—one step at a time.
When you get a break from your normal daily activities, the hardest part is to start again. How do you get back into the groove of your life without stress or resistance?
The simple answer is slowly and peacefully. Here is what I am doing to go back to my routine. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. I’d love to know how you handle life’s interruptions.
1. Do a complete brain dump.
I am a big fan of a clear mind—and it shows in most of my writing. Write everything that comes to your mind either on paper, white board or on your computer. The moment you start writing, your to-do’s start to form and the mental noise begins to fade.
2. Choose 2 things you really want to get done.
Yes just two action steps. Highlight your items or write them on a separate piece of paper and scratch them out from your big list.
3. Start working on your items—slowly.
For example the most two important things for me are: (1) write one blog article and (2) read and analyze one report (as a possible investment option). That’s it.
You only have two things to do, so take your time and relax. Do it well and don’t think of anything else. Focus on the doing and forget about results.
4. Manage interruptions.
If you have to deal with emails or phone calls, designate a time slot to do so and stick to it. You can clear some of your messages after you complete your first task and before you move on to your second action item. Don’t allow the mundane to stand in your way. Use a timer if you have to. If you’re not done, you can get to it in the next break or the next day.
5. Start with the most recent communications.
If you are returning phone calls or responding to emails, start with the most recent messages. You’ll be amazed by how much stuff sorts itself out in your absence.
Again, do it slowly. You don’t have to respond to 50 emails. Just pick the top 5 and clear those out.
6. Spend time doing what you enjoy.
This may sound counterproductive but you do need a boost of energy and inspiration every now and then. So don’t forget to read your favorite blogs, listen to music, exercise, or do something fun.
Use step 5 and focus on the most recent publications, if what you read is updated frequently. Don’t stress yourself by trying to read 10 articles. Instead, pick two. Next day pick another two and so on.
What brings you joy keeps you connected to your interests and passions—to your truth.
7. Chart your progress.
Once you know what you want to do, follow through and mark it as done. Nothing will motivate you more than accomplishing what’s most important to you.
When you keep track of what you’re doing, you become more aware of how you use your time and energy. If you are getting good results, you keep going. If not, change course and refocus.
8. Let momentum take over.
If you continue to focus on just two items and getting them done, you will build momentum. Consistent action is the muscle of momentum. Once momentum builds, you become unstoppable. You will keep going without the need for motivation or outside pressure. All you have to do is just keep at it—two tasks at a time.
9. Don’t over-commit.
Once you’re back, demands start to pile and pressure starts to build. Don’t take on more than you have—unless you absolutely have to. In this case, push one or two things further down your list.
Commit less and do more and in no time you will be on top of your game.
10. Allow your mind and body to adjust.
At certain times, you will feel inner resistance or you may feel you’re moving at a slower pace than usual. Your mind got used to a new routine and now you’re trying to pull back. Your body may do the same.
Instead of forcing yourself by using will power to get back to normal, ease into it. When you feel resistance, stop for a minute, breathe and remind yourself that you are only working on two things and then you can take a break.
The best way to stay clear of the two extremes – overdoing and avoidance—is to start slowly, build momentum and ease back into your daily life. Before you know it, you’ll get back to your normal rhythm.