In Breathing Through, we learned about ways to deal with challenges, pain and chaos – from breathing to distractions to reframing, and most importantly listening to ourselves. And by listening, we can start to ask what it is that we really need in those difficult moments.
When we truly listen, we can be in check with our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being and understand where there are pains, gaps, pressures and holes – as well as physical tasks and activities that we are responsible for. Listening involves being present, it involves asking questions, it involves understanding what we need to be doing, and it involves information gathering (e.g. journaling, list-making, Gantt charting, etc). And before completing this list of tasks, don’t forget to check that self-care and person needs are represented too!
Once we are able to collect that information and have a good understanding of our needs and responsibilities, then we can decide what to do with it. That’s where prioritization + grace come in.
Having a list or an idea of everything that we need to do is potentially going to feel overwhelming and may also add to the sense of pressure and anxiety that we are already feeling during this time of challenge and chaos. But take heart, this gives us a great opportunity to get even more relief.
I am a huge advocate for the old school “urgent and important grid” that I learned through Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This grid is a great way to filter through what it is that we actually need to be doing vs what we can delegate or ignore entirely. The premise is that we map out each activity on a grid with one axis being high or low urgency and the other axis being high or low importance. The long-term play is that we intentionally spend our time in the high importance and low urgency bucket. I personally love this approach because it teaches us (over time) where we really want to be spending our time and we can naturally delegate and shift our energy into high importance/low urgency.
Whether you use a grid like this or prioritize based on deadline or by ordering from 1 to XX, etc., use whatever works best for you to really evaluate where and how you can be spending your time. Get a good grip on what is important and meaningful for the moment.
From there, grace comes into play. You have the list, you know what could be done and in many ways that likely feels like it has to be done (otherwise it wouldn’t have made it on your list in the first place, right?). Now is the time to ask where we can give ourselves a break. We already have so many things going on and our emotions are out of whack and we are feeling intense pressure and/or overwhelm based on the chaos or challenges that we are facing. This prioritized list serves as a great tool to help us focus and also to help us to cut ourselves some slack. There are always going to be things that need to be done, but we also have to take care of ourselves too. Rather than getting into “fix it mode” and checking everything off the list, we need to take the time to breathe, to recover and to recharge. This may mean that not everything gets done by the time we ideally would want it to be done, or that the self-care areas rise up higher on the prioritization list too. By giving ourselves that grace, we’ll be able to step into the rest of the activities at a later time with more energy and focus than we currently have available right now. We can give ourselves permission to not get everything done and it is OK. The world will continue to move and life will go on.
Layman’s Terms Please
Prioritization and grace together are a powerful combination to finding balance during difficult and trying times. It certainly doesn’t have to stop there either, but this approach is something to be especially cognizant of when the pressure is on and emotions are heightened. Giving ourselves permission to not be perfect, to take time for self-care, and to focus on what truly matters most is a powerful strategy to managing through the difficult times.
Listen to what it is that you need (physically, emotionally, mentally)
Create a list of all activities that come up while listening – no matter how big or how small (including self-care)
Prioritize the list based on whatever model you prefer (deadline, urgent/important, etc)
Give yourself grace to not tackle the entire list and/or consider where self-care truly fits
Focus on the things that matter most while continuing to manage through the challenging times
Remember, you got this!!
And if you need any help with creating that list, listening or understanding where and how to spend your time, we’re here for you. Schedule your free 30-minute session today.