Oh, I Juggle!

Home, Family, Success, Peace… Can a woman really have it all?

Archive for the category “Personal Goals”

Making Way for the New

The new blogging year could not have started better. I was thrilled when Subhorup Dasgupta from Subho’s Jejune Diet  asked me to write a guest post for his blog. SJD is a reservoir of intelligent and meaningful reflections on simple, ethical and value oriented living. Thank you for this honour, Subho!

The beginning of the year is always filled with plans. While there are many thoughts on how to do more and excel, my ideas on doing focused less and accomplishing more, Making Way for the New.


Five Great Ways to Trick Yourself into Feeling Motivated

Let’s be honest, there are many things we need to do but don’t really want to. I know I feel that way about household chores. I swing from feeling great when I get the housework done to wishing I could get myself a wife. No, don’t say we are all equal. Any married woman will tell you, we are not. Since I am the one staying at home to take care of the kids, I am not really complaining. Not all the time, anyway.

In the meanwhile, I have devised some fun ways of not only making the process enjoyable, but also seeing that the job gets done well. This can be applied to any task or job that you don’t feel like doing but have to do anyway.
Follow these steps to trick yourself into feeling motivated:

1. Move with quick purposeful movements. Your energy and enthusiasm will soon catch up with your physical movements. Straight spine and shoulders back can work wonders for word count too.

2. Imagine this to be your dream task and pretend to love the process. When you have fun working, you will be more efficient. Work will also get done much faster this way.

3. Pretend that you know exactly what needs to be done next. Sometimes motivation levels are low because of the complexity of the task at hand. You may not know how you will accomplish all the steps required to complete the task. When you act with confidence you may find that the steps were not so difficult, after all.

4. Don’t aim for perfection. Have a basic quality threshold which needs to be met. Once done, move on to the next step or task that you need to do.

5. Play a game and complete the task within a designated time frame. Remember my friend, the timer? Use it to mark time. It will help you focus and finish the job at hand before moving on to other things.

Try these steps on tasks you don’t like and see them transform into satisfying accomplishments.

Tell me, tell me, did it work?


Overwhelmed? Make a Master List

There are times when a hundred priorities seem to be pulling you in different directions. The mind keeps jumping from one thing to another. It is hard to focus because you know that you still have so many things to do. What also happens is, the same thoughts keep coming back on a regular basis. So much mental energy gets expended and it becomes quite exhausting.

The easiest way to break out of feelings of overwhelm is write down everything that is stampeding through your mind. Getting it out on paper gives you an immediate sense of taking charge of the situation.

A master to do list acts like a mind dump. It clears the clutter in the head and helps you organize your priorities. The very act of sitting down and writing that list will unlock a lot of energy that is needed to get things done.

I prefer to stick to a pen and my diary for writing down my master to do list as well as daily lists. I feel that writing is a little slower than typing and since your writing is unique it helps you connect to the list better. Also, if you use any other device to keep track of your tasks, the device has many more in built distractions.

These are the steps I follow to clear my mind and break out of overwhelm:

Write Everything Down

Don’t edit anything. Write down all that you want to or need to do. A master list is not time specific, so you can include anything that is to be done in future. You don’t need to categorise just as yet. Just number each separate entry.

 Define Broad Categories

I had done a post on having a distilled future vision. It is easier to have such a vision when you divide life into broad categories. I have home organization, health and fitness, kids’ learning, spiritual growth, other learning and development, writing, creative pursuits, maintaining relationships (including keeping in touch with friends) etc. as my categories.

 Assign tasks to Categories

Assign each item on the master list to a category. If something is not easily classifiable, you can always create a new one. I just write the beginning alphabet in capital for each category near each item. S for spiritual, O for organising and so on.

I have portioned out my diary (you can use a three ring binder) for each category. That way it is easier for me to revisit my ideas. If any new idea crops up, I can just open up the category list and jot it down there.

 Decide Current Focus

Pick up tasks from the master list you want to currently focus on and put it on your monthly or weekly to do list. Here you can also decide how much you want to focus on each area of life. Sometimes one area keep us so occupied that some other areas get neglected. If you are unhappy with that, then you will have to take a stance and decide what proportion of your time you need to give to each of those areas for achieving the kind of balance you like.

 Plan Each Day the Night Before

 Sometimes when I have been busy all day and I lie down to sleep, my mind refuses to settle down. It keeps churning out thoughts of things to do. The best way to calm the mind a have a good night’s rest is to write the daily list the night before.

Some of the items on a daily list would come from the master list. Now, the master list does not always list something that can be completed at a go. For example, in my creative category I might have mentioned “learn to crochet a hanky edging”. That is something which would have to be worked at on a progressive basis. You could decide to work on crochet every Friday or something like that. Then on Thursday night you can put it on the list for the next day.

Other items on the daily list would be just tasks life keeps throwing at you on a regular basis- a school project, menu plan for dinner guests etc.

Have you felt overwhelmed lately? Want to clear you mind? Make a master list.

My Favourite Productivity Tool

Most of us agree that a lot more can be achieved in a given period of time if we focus on the task at hand rather than try to multitask. This learning was a turning point for me on my road to greater productivity. I am a dreamer. Daydreamer, to be more precise :-). This habit of mine has me drifting away in the middle of many tasks. Life has changed a lot since I started using lists and my trusted timer. I am able to achieve twice the amount I could earlier, even with the distractions of raising two young children who don’t understand the concept of focus.

There is a marked difference in the amount of work you can get done when there is a time crunch. Setting a timer to mark time for a specific task works on the same principle. I prefer to use a simple digital timer which is not a part of any other media device.

This is how I do it:

Step 1: Make a list of tasks to be done. You can add any task which takes more than 5 minutes to complete.
Step 2: Sort them in the order of priority, putting the most important on the top.
Step 3: Estimate the minutes it will take to complete each item on the list and write down that number against it.

The list might look something like this:

If the task might take more than 30 minutes, break it down. For example, a 40 minute task can be broken down into two chunks of 20 minutes each.

Once the steps above have been completed you can begin with the first on the list and set the timer for the time estimate that you gave. Commit fully to the task at hand and focus on completing it in the fastest and most efficient way possible. Once the alarm on the timer goes off, you can stand back and relax.

I sometimes cheat. If the baby is crying and needs attention, I stop the timer and attend to him. Then I resume as soon as I can. But I can vouch that this works much better if you avoid all distractions including attending to phone calls.

The benefits of using a timer are many. You can use it on any kind of task, complex, mundane or unpleasant. There is an immediate boost in energy much like the caffeine kick from drinking a strong cup of coffee. Without any side effects. I use my timer even when I am not feeling well and still need to get things done. There is an immediate sense of satisfaction when you strike off item by item on your to do list.

My six year old daughter and I play a game. When we have to get the house back in order and put things away before bedtime and neither of us feels like it, we set the timer. I set it for less time than I think it would take. We then race against the clock to win. When the work is done we both sit back and have a good laugh and wait for the timer to ring. It is loads of fun!

If you have never used a timer to supercharge your to do list, do give it a try. It will cut through the lethargy and rev up your engine.

Don’t forget to let me know how it goes.

Distilled Future Vision

“There is a direct relationship between the level of clarity you have about who you are and what you want and virtually everything you accomplish in life.”
~Brian Tracy

Research has shown that goal clarity is the single greatest predictor of future success. Define what your goals are and what success means to you. If your goal is to be a great homemaker and success means that you create a safe and peaceful environment for your family to relax and reenergize, great! Just be very clear how you will measure your success and be happy. Not all successes can be measured in monetary terms. But if financial success is part of the plan, it needs clear definition too.

Most of us do not define our goals. We live more by accident than by design. Life brings us certain options; we make our choices and move on. Years pass and we do not stop to see if the direction life is headed is the one we want. We must zoom out and see the larger picture and make necessary changes to achieve our goals.

I left my job early in my career to have kids and stayed home to take care of them. It was a conscious decision that I do not regret. But I yearned for more. I knew I wanted to do something wonderful. Something that would wake me up in the morning, fill me up with energy and excitement to face a brand new day. I knew I wanted to be very successful in whatever I chose to do, and not settle for mediocrity.  I did not want to make easy choices. I wanted something I truly would enjoy doing day after day. But finding out what I would be passionate about was not easy. It took me many years to get where I am right now. I now know who I want to be, what I want to do and where I want to go.

Ok, so how does one do this?

Try New Things

My greatest problem with finding out what I liked was; I had not done many things. How would I even know that I liked something if I hadn’t even tried it!
“According to the Law of Probability, the more things you try, the more likely it is that you will try the one thing that will make all the difference.” Brian Tracy again! I love that guy!
Just sit down and make a list of all the things you might try doing. Don’t reject any idea. Write them all down. Choose some and just start doing them. Some may cost money and may need planning. Many may not cost a thing.  Just do it. Dating before commitment is a good idea.

Get to know yourself

To get to know anyone, we ask questions. What is your name? What do you do for a living? What do you like to read?

Do the same with yourself.  Ask questions. Write down the answers.

What are the major areas of my life?
What excites me?
What touches me so deeply that I want to cry?
What gives me a deep sense of satisfaction and peace?
What kind of people do I want to surround myself with?
What activities would I like to do on a recurring basis?
What proportion of my time would I like to spend on each such activity?

Keep asking questions and answering them. Once you have asked as many questions as you can and answered all of them, you will have a better understanding of who you are. This is the first step.

Set precise long term goals

Now that you have determined broad areas of life, think about what your goals are in each one of those areas. Imagine yourself as very old. Look back on your life. What would make you the proudest, the happiest?
In each area of life, those are your long term goals. Be very specific. Don’t leave anything out.
The ability to think far into the future is a great contributor to predictable success.

Work Back

From your long term goals work back to determine goals for decades, years, months, weeks and days.  See, let’s be realistic, dreams change. People change. But it is still good to know what life means to you. You can always change course midway. New ideas come up. Plans change. But that is no excuse to not plan at all.

Quantify and Measure

Determine parameters which help you establish whether you have achieved your goals or not. Some are easy to measure. Relationship and spiritual goals are not easily quantifiable. So, you have to use only externally visible signs of progress. For example, ‘spending Saturday evenings playing in the park with my daughter’. ‘Meditating for 20 minutes everyday’. It is easy to know if you achieved that or not. 

Revisit Regularly

Revisit your current period goals on at least a monthly basis. You may need to tweak your actions or sometimes the goals may need tweaking. 🙂

Don’t forget, you have to write everything down. Please don’t do the planning in your head. Clear, Written Goals is the key.

A word of caution. Your goals and successes are your own. They should stem from deep within you. Setting goals and defining success to impress another will rarely ignite the kind of passion that is needed to propel you towards your dreams.

As Zig Ziglar says, Let us move from being a wandering generality to becoming a meaningful specific!

Perfect Beginnings

I have been planning this first post for a long time now. Inspiration came and beautiful words, oozing wit, floated through my mind. But, I got busy and did not pen any of them. Inspiration went. A child got sick. The perfect time had passed.

I waited. And I waited. But those eloquent thoughts did not make their way back into my head. My confidence, hitched to my feeling of inspiration, plummeted. Then, I just played around with the look of this blog. Still waiting.

Unfortunately, time does not wait. I had discussed my blog ideas with my sister. She was sharing her thoughts and I just mentioned that it would be nice if she started one too. The very next day, she had silently signed up, selected a theme and put in her introduction and published first post. I was still thinking of names. That reminded me of the basic difference between the both of us. I have so much to learn!

And this is just the beginning. I am going to share my learnings with you and hope you share yours with me. Together we can grow and try balancing the different aspects of our lives with greater ease.

Learning: Perfect or not, each small step taken in the right direction, will bring you closer to your goal.

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