In my last post, we discussed the potential of adopting daily self-care habits that improve our body, mind, and spirit.
There are many ways in which we can give back to ourselves each day... and those habits and practices don’t have to take a great deal of time. Sometimes all you need is five minutes!
The mind is incredibly powerful. Through its ability to process external and internal information, we gain the ability to see, hear, smell, think, feel, remember and imagine. The list of capabilities powered by the mind is endless! So... How do we feed and recharge the mind?
Today, let’s outline a process that you can apply throughout the month of October, and which will explore some ways in which we can enrich and declutter our minds, as we practice daily self-care.
If we equate the mind to a computer, we can easily find some Help Desk maintenance ideas that are relevant and easy to follow:
Clean Disk - Scan for temporary or unnecessary files
Clear Cache & Purge - Eliminate unnecessary files
Defrag - Sort and organize the remaining files to take up less space
Reboot - Power down / up to refresh the active memory
Sounds very technologically complex, right? Let’s break it down.
When running diagnostics on a computer, this action identifies all those files which are temporary, or which may not have been accessed in a long time. Essentially, you have an opportunity to create a list of items that you should consider purging.
How do we apply this process to our minds?
We must first spend time cataloging all the things that consume our time and energy. This ranges from documenting our daily routine to identifying every single thing we think about in a given day. This process alone can become overwhelming. To keep it achievable, start with tracking three days of your month: For simplicity, let’s track the 1st, 15th and Last day of the month.
Step 1: Journal your entire day’s routine on the 1st, 15th and 31st of October. This includes:
When did you get up? When did you go to sleep?
What did you eat?
Where did you go?
Who did you see?
What did you do - at work, home, socially?
How did you feel? Were there any moments of extreme stress or happiness?
Step 2: Categorize and Prioritize your Journal
This should happen within the first week of the month following your journal work. (For example: If you tracked the 1st, 15th and 31st of October, you should be tackling Step 2 by November 7th.)
Use high-level categories to put your activities in ‘buckets’: Work, Home, Family, Social, Self-Care
Prioritize within each category
High: Required to keep that category moving forward; Could only be completed by you
Medium: Important, but didn’t need to happen that day; Did not impede anything else
Low: Not important, and really didn’t need to happen at all, much less that day.
Could be delegated to someone else.
Clear Cache & Purge
This is true as straight-forward as it sounds. You will be using the prioritization and ranking you assigned in Step 2 of this process. Give yourself a week to complete Steps 3 through 5. Trust me, by giving yourself a deadline and sticking to it, you will make sure you complete this process. (In our example, this should be completed by 11/14.)
Step 3: Identify those items that should be delegated to others and/or eliminated from your daily schedule.
Step 4: Delegate!
Yes, this can be difficult to do. I mean, how can you safely delegate something to someone else and know that it will be done correctly? The reality is that you will need to do a few things:
Train them on the process, objectives, and requirements
Give them a timeline and deadline
Step back and let them do the work
Be available to answer questions
Have Faith. When you come from a place of trust, and you provide all the necessary information and tools, you will be pleasantly surprised by the successful results.
Step 5: Delete Work
If the work or activity was not prioritized, and if it does not need to be delegated, then take it off your To-Do list.
Now that you have cleared out the clutter, it’s time to reorganize yourself. This process shouldn’t take a lot of time, but let’s make it comfortable. Give yourself one full week in which to get your new routine and To-Do list setup. (Complete this by 11/21.)
Step 6: Create a repeatable and focused routine.
Using the same categories you called out in Step 2, create a visual diagram (this doesn’t have to be fancy!) that lists your remaining activities within their respective categories.
Be sure to flag those items that you might be able to delegate in the future. (For example, start training a junior employee now, and hand it off to them in 90 days. Or... this activity might be transitioned to your teenage child during Summer break, etc.}
Assign some measure of time to each activity. This will allow you to get a better handle on your use of time.
If you are a tech lover, you might want to use an electronic calendaring or project management system to track these categories and activities. Google Calendar, Trello, and Asana are three potential systems. Hint: Color Coding by category can keep your calendar even more organized!
If you are a paper and pen fan, buy a bound planner that includes journal pages, and document everything there. There are inexpensive options available - don’t worry about breaking the bank on this. Hint: You too can enjoy color coding through the use of colored pens and highlighters.
This is one of the easiest things we do in technology... turn the device off, and then turn it back on. However, this may actually be the most difficult step to achieve for our minds.
We are asking our mind to clear itself of habits that have been in place for a while, and which may have become second nature. So how do we do this?
Step 7: Take a Break
If you have been following along with the sample timeline, you are now in the week of Thanksgiving, 2019. This is the PERFECT time to:
Reflect: On all the amazing work you’ve done so far
Give Thanks: For the newfound organization that will make your life simpler
Refresh: Spend time with family and friends celebrating a holiday filled with love, laughter, and good food
We have officially completed the decluttering, but what about that enrichment we talked about earlier today?
You see, you had to go through the cleaning process first, to make room for the new and amazing things that will feed your mind (and most likely your spirit as well!). Now it’s time to start having fun:
Learn - Make a list of topics that clearly align with your routine categories. These should be things you want to know more about. They may be work-related, or possibly a new hobby or talent (learn to play an instrument, etc.).
Preserve - Be sure to set aside time in each day to do something just for you. Remember, this doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes. However, this is NON-NEGOTIABLE. You should not sacrifice this time for anything or anyone else.
Support Yourself - Be sure to recognize your worth EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Acknowledge your accomplishments. Give yourself Kudos. Do not judge. Do reward yourself.
Start your new routine on December 1st.
Why not January 1, you ask? Well, most habits take at least 21 days to take root. If you start in December, your New Year will be off to a very smooth start. #setyourprecedent
By Virna Cothrin, Business Consultant & Leadership Coach at Colibri Blue Group
Virna Cothrin, MBA, is the founding Principal of Colibri Blue Group, a management consulting and executive coaching firm based in New Jersey. With more than 15 years of experience leading cross-organizational, highly collaborative teams that span the globe, she specializes in the strategic planning and delivery of global innovation programs in the healthcare, human capital and education sectors. Her true passion is helping startup organizations, business leaders, and corporate teams define and achieve operational success. Virna partners with her clients to assess their operations, identify areas of opportunity, develop growth strategies, and execute efficiently and effectively.