I will confess that I am a bit overwhelmed at the moment. I’m preparing welcome boxes for the 18 participants of my first-ever completely virtual leadership series, packing for a three-month stay in Austin, writing this blog, and getting my condo ready for guests to stay here while I am gone.
When I have a long way to go and a short time to get there, I begin by making a list of things that have to be done. The first step is a brain dump. Everything that is cluttering my mind goes down on paper.
Next, I put the tasks in priority order. Once I have a list of things to do, from most important and time-sensitive to least, I start moving. The trick is to only focus on one thing at a time. No emotional energy goes into hemming or hawing about what is the next best thing to do.
I also take a lot of deep breaths to stay calm. I want to move quickly, but not hurriedly. Wasting emotional pennies on feeling rushed isn’t helping the situation. I can do this by practicing some mindfulness. I focus on whatever I am doing right now. No thoughts of what still needs to be done or feelings of overwhelm are allowed. The only thing in my mind is what I am doing in this moment. And when I’m done with that task, I move on to the next thing on the list. Staying mindful turns a forced march into a brisk, intentional walk, which is much more sustainable.
For my current tasks, printing off the handouts for the welcome boxes and ordering items to include in it were first. Then I began to lay everything out across the living room floor and dining room table. Next, I began assembling the boxes. Currently, they are all filled and waiting for bubble wrap, sealing, and labeling.
I am also facing the effects of Hurricane Isaias, which has led me to switch up my priorities. I paused on leadership welcome kits so I could pack and load the car before the deluge hits. At 6 pm, I will stop packing and loading and finish off the welcome boxes. They will go in the car tonight so I can go to the post office first thing in the morning, when I will mail the welcome kits and ask them to forward my mail.
The great thing about prioritizing is that I do get the most important stuff done. There is only so much time between now and when I must be on the road. There is a chance that I will run out of time and not get everything on the list completed – and that’s okay! I’m a human who needs sleep before I can drive for hours on end. Not stressing or feeling overwhelmed also helps me stay fresh for the long drive.
Leaders often face time challenges. There are many responsibilities and tasks that pull on our attention. We can maintain a calm demeanor and manageable life by mastering the skill of prioritizing and then staying in the current moment by practicing mindfulness.
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