By Sheryl Smolkin
Most of the books reviewed this year on savewithspp.com have been about personal financial planning and retirement. However, it’s hard to hold down a job and save for retirement if you are always overwhelmed and crazy busy both at work and at home.
Does that sound familiar? Then Eileen Chadnick’s new book “Ease” may help you find the balance you need to break the cycle.
Chadnick is a leadership coach and principal of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto with more than 20 years of experience in diverse careers including coaching, public relations, fitness and writing. Her articles regularly appear in the Globe and Mail.
Are times of “crazy busy” the new normal? Chadnick says the season of “rush” is now year-round. Demands of work and life continue to accelerate to unprecedented levels. In Ease, she offers a toolkit to manage “overwhelm” in our daily lives.
Here are some of the tools for organizing your life Chadnick explores in detail.
- Get it out of your head: Write it down
Making lists seems pretty basic to me because that’s how I’m wired. But lists covering short and longer term personal and work objectives can certainly help you stay focused.
- Get a grip on your schedule
Don’t schedule two activities back to back in different parts of the city. Build in more responsible time margins. And schedule “white space” — time for yourself — into your agenda.
- Prioritize and triage
Use priorities to establish boundaries but maintain appropriate flexibility. Having clear priorities will act as a compass for how to spend your limited time and give you a reassuring map when there is too much to do.
- Manage distractions
Ah yes. Facebook, surfing the web and email are notorious distractions. But non-urgent interruptions by colleagues and family members can also throw you off course. Identify distractions, manage the expectations of others and create systems for handling email.
- Reign in the multitasking
Being able to multitask is generally viewed as a positive attribute. But if you spend your entire day juggling tasks with little time to focus, you will likely use much more energy and feel more depleted than if you utilize the same amount of hours focusing on serial tasks.
- Learn to say no
Learn to manage your reflexive “yes” habit and how to appropriately say no when it counts. Acknowledge the request. Share your reasons for declining. And where possible make another offer that is more doable. For example, “While I can’t participate in that project I’d be prepared to attend a preliminary brainstorming session so others can run with some of my ideas.”
- Managing the paradox of choice at the buffet of life
Be aware of and take responsibility for the work and life choices you make. Just because you love to golf doesn’t mean you have to play two or three times a week and beat yourself up when you can’t. Take one course a semester instead of two. It may take longer to get your degree but you’ll have time to do other things.
- Tame your inner critics
Do you have an inner voice constantly telling you that the job will never get done or you will never be able to manage? It often comes out when you are tired or can’t sleep. Know your triggers. Become masterful at self-observation so that you can recognize those inner-critic moments and transition to your resourceful, reasonable self.
- Climb your mountain one step at a time
Step back from any project or task and break it down into pieces. Then attempt one step at a time. Remember — small steps add up to a solid journey.
- Clear the cache
Experts say that sometimes the best way to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem is to walk away from it for some period of time. Taking breaks from an issue can trigger a switch that increases mental function, creativity and productivity. Take a walk, go to the gym or bake a cake. While you unplug and shift gears answers will come to you.
I particularly like the chapter on the importance of positive thinking. In one of my early jobs I had a hard time adjusting to the company culture and initially blamed my unhappiness on other co-workers. Shortly after when I decided to stop complaining and take a more positive, constructive approach, my work and my relationships became a lot more manageable.
Much of Chadnick’s advice is common sense and you have probably heard most of it before. However, taken together and with explanations grounded in neuroscience, her ideas form a powerful roadmap for getting your life in order. She is available for private coaching, to speak to book clubs via Skype and to present at conferences.
She can be reached at email@example.com. You can also check out her website. Ease can be purchased from Chapters/Indigo online for $12.24. In addition, it is available as an ebook for your Kobo or Kindle.