Tuesday January 10, 2017
Do you sometimes feel like you're drowning beneath a flood of demands on your time?
Maybe your inbox is overflowing, and each new email feels like a new obligation that you have to meet, no matter how vast your existing to-do list is.
Maybe you've been blessed with an influx of client projects, but you haven't been miraculously gifted with an extra five hours a day to accommodate them all.
Or maybe you're the go-to person every time someone has a task they want completed, and you never really feel like you can say "no".
The feeling that your life is not your own, and that your freedom and happiness are subject to the whims of everyone who asks for a chunk of your time, can be crippling and exhausting.
It can also hold you back from succeeding in your business, because if you're constantly performing minor tasks, there's no room to look for and pursue opportunities for growth.
I've been in that position, and I know how much it sucks. Today, I'm going to share a quick exercise you can use to break free from that position of overwhelm and drowning, and to reclaim your power, freedom, and ability to control your own life.
It may take a bit longer at first, but now that I've had some practice, I can actually use this exercise and feel its effects in just one second or less!
Step 1: Notice the position you feel like you're in.
When I'm entering this state of obligation and overwhelm, I feel like I'm underneath a pool or waterfall of demands.
In this position "under" them, I'm subject to these demands, and obligated by them. When they come, I have to answer, and I don't have the right to say "no".
Your sense of this feeling of being bound, obligated or owned might not manifest in the exact same way, but take a moment to notice how it feels.
The first step toward breaking free of it is being able to detect it, so become aware of how you feel when you're in "say yes to everything, even if you want to say no" mode.
Step 2: Visualize yourself stepping to the side of that waterfall.
Once you've noticed that you're going into "yes" mode, visualize yourself stepping to the side of that waterfall of demands.
Outside this waterfall, there's an open, expansive space where you can do anything. You can pick requests out of that waterfall and fit them into this open space as you see fit, but you're no longer catching everything the waterfall sends your way.
You now have your own life outside of those demands, and the demands on your time have to bend to fit your life, instead of your life bending to fit the shape of all those demands.
Step 3: Remind yourself that your life is your own.
Your time isn't just a mark on a calendar. It's irreplaceable pieces of a life you won't get back, and it belongs to no one but you.
Is the current demand on your time really worth a piece of that life? Does it move you toward living the lifestyle in which you want to spend your precious life, toward making the impact you want to make, or toward a goal you've set for yourself?
If it doesn't, but you still want to do it for whatever reason, does it detract from the activities that move you toward the life you want? There are reasons that are good enough - a family member needing to be driven to the hospital, for instance - but make sure the reason actually IS good enough.
As noted above, it may take practice. Maybe you'll have to tweak this exercise a bit, to find a method of doing it that works for you.
But once you've mastered it, you'll be able to break free from overwhelm, obligation and helplessness almost instantly, so in less than a second, you can go from feeling incapable of choosing how your day goes, to knowing you have the power to choose how you'll live, each and every day.
But what if the demand is urgent?
People often think their requirements for your time are more urgent than they really are. There are times, like the abovementioned hospital visit, that are legitimately critical, but when in doubt, here are a few ways to weed out the requests that aren't truly urgent.
1. Charge them extra for rush projects.
The client wants a rush project when you're already booked? They'd better be prepared to pay a rush fee. When your day is booked, your day is booked; you aren't obligated to work overtime in exchange for a standard rate.
You might find that, in the face of that extra charge, people realize that their project wasn't as immediately critical as they thought, and it can wait a week or two while you attend to your preexisting commitments. Either that, or you can choose to do some extra work at a higher price - but remember that the choice is yours.
2. Don't give away your time for free.
The client wants to have a call and ask some questions, and that call isn't part of the package they bought? Tell them you're willing to book a session, but name your price.
How much is your time worth per hour, and how long will the call take? Price your time accordingly, and see if they still want it that badly.
3. Ask yourself if it's really your job.
While the above two methods are designed for requests from clients, there are other people who might want a chunk of time that you don't have to give.
At these times, ask yourself if it's really your job to solve their crisis for them.
If they need a ride, are they incapable of taking the bus or hiring a taxi?
If they need a task performed, is it something they should be doing themselves?
Remember, not every crisis belongs to you. A problem on someone else's part does not constitute an emergency or obligation on yours.
Sometimes, people get themselves into tough situations, and it's their job to figure out how to deal with it - not your job to sacrifice your own time, success and happiness to repeatedly bail them out.
Are you spending your time on tasks that you don't enjoy or excel at?
Now you know how to break free from obligations and undue demands on your time from other people. But what about the demands that your business places on your time?
You have your areas of expertise. If marketing and writing aren't among them, are you really going to get your best results by doing them yourself? Or will they detract from the time that you could have spent being productive in the areas where you excel?
If you've been doing your own marketing and copywriting, but you don't enjoy it or have the skill or training you need to get results, it's time to refocus your efforts on the things you're good at, and get someone else to handle this vital but time-consuming activity.
If you'd like to get your marketing materials created for you, I invite you to check out my list of services, and see what you can take off your to-do list today.