Maintaining the juggling act of personal and professional commitments can be tough to master. That's why LN recently spoke with two local life coaches, who help people organize their work and family obligations to achieve more meaning in their lives.
Jill Farmer, of Jill Farmer Coaching and author of There's Not Enough Time: ...And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, recommends starting to organize your life by using a daily to-do list. “Many people don’t use a to-do list. They try to keep track of things in their heads, and that’s always going to be a sure-fire way to forget things or get behind because our short-term memory isn’t designed to handle things like to-do lists.” She advises creating a to-do list for today of five things in priority order, with the most important first. “Don’t put everything in your life on it. Put things on it at specific times on a calendar, instead of on a massive to-do list, because priorities get hidden. A lot of times, people spend time focusing on urgent things, and it’s really more important to focus on the important things.” In addition, create a two-minute task list of five things and set a timer for 10 minutes. “This can be things like writing a check for the dry cleaner, taking laundry to everyone’s bedrooms, or making a veterinarian appointment,” she explains. “This will get these things out of the way and clear brain space.”
Farmer also says it’s important for people to "know their why." “We often get sucked into doing things because it’s the way we’ve always done them, or we are seeking the approval of others. So, we should pause for a second, and ask ourselves why we are really doing something. It can be a really powerful way to filter things that are wasting our time and screwing up our focus. It helps us get in a place where we can really discern and decide how we want to be spending time, instead of being like a pinball in a machine just bouncing around.”
Farmer also recommends using technology strategically. While it can be a great tool, technology’s instantaneous nature can be addictive, and can keep us from giving ourselves time to breathe and be present, she says. “I recommend putting technology in a container: Pick three to four times a day to check email, instead of every time the buzzer goes off; and tell friends and family you don’t answer phone calls or texts before or after certain times, and that you try to get back to emails within a certain time limit—you pick the boundaries. But have a strategy for how to use it; otherwise, people are checking email on their phone, tablet or desktop computer constantly, and things are not getting replied to, getting deleted or not getting filed where they need to go.”
Life and business coach Jenny Beilsmith, owner of The Prosperous Path, says one of the first steps to having a more organized life is being clear about what you really want. “Many people are running around working and (being busy) at home, but they are never really present,” she says. “It’s about setting boundaries over your time—when you’re working, be at work; and when you’re at home, be with your kids.”
To make changes in your life, Beilsmith advises a step-by-step process: Get clear about what you want, define your life goals for the year, figure out what is standing in your way, picture what your life would look like if you could have those things you want, then map out an action plan. Turning to friends and family for support is key to the accountability, and, in turn, the success of these actions plans, she adds. “When you share your vision out loud, it’s no longer just a dream in your head. When you ask people to support you, it becomes a real entity and keeps it in motion,” she notes.
Beilsmith and Farmer also endorse the use of vision boards to organize your life and realize your dreams. “Many people kind of let life happen to them, instead of creating a road map of what they want,” Beilsmith says. A vision board is a visual representation depicting your goals and dreams. “This visioning process helps to make your aspirations more real and attainable. The very act of creating the vision board tells your mind what’s important by adding clarity to your desires, and feelings to your vision,” Beilsmith says. “It’s simple…we become what we think about.”
To create a vision board, gather a blank posterboard and a stack of various magazines, Farmer explains. “You don’t have to have a specific agenda of how it will look—let the images do the imagining for you. As you look through the magazines, select images you find fun and invigorating or curious, cut them out and create a collage of them on your posterboard.”
Hang up the posterboard in a place where you will see it daily, Beilsmith recommends, to get inspired, think about what actions you can do to reach your goals and keep that dream in the forefront of your mind.