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Caldwell: Take steps to get most out of each hour

Morning networking groups, lunchtime leads groups, evening mixers, board meetings, association gatherings, committee sessions, conference calls; it’s all good but it may seem like all non-stop busyness all the time.

At the end of the week, you may have no sense of substantial accomplishment and feel all of your good work has been wasted and doubt there are any positive results. You feel stressed, tired, burned out and resentful. Your jammed-packed schedule may leave scant time to excel at your actual work. Your exhaustion at the end of the day leaves little energy or time for your family. You know they deserve your very best, but you have little left to give. Are you doing more, but feeling less accomplished and more frustrated?

Finding the right amount of good is the critical search. You have a lot of choices about how to use your time, talent and treasure, knowing that with abundance and success come responsibility. Your ultimate responsibility is to meet your business or professional goals whether you are accountable to a board of directors, shareholders, an employer or clients and at the same time be a contributive member of your family.

The ability to prioritize and optimize all of the goodness in your life comes from making the right decisions about what is “important to do” rather than what is simply “nice to do.”

Fortunately there are solutions to increase the real goodness in your life. 

Evaluate and set the criteria: Determine the programs, groups, causes and activities that are truly aligned with your core values and basic priorities. Turn inward and analyze where you are accomplishing the most good or deriving the most personal satisfaction. Are you saying “yes” more often and “no” less frequently because you are afraid of being left out? Learn to say “no” to the ordinary in order to be able to say “yes” to the outstanding. 

Plan and prioritize: Look at your week and month and list your intentions and commitments. Sort the important from the merely workable. Think of your life in three pillars: your work/career, your health and your family and faith and consider adopting the 8-8-8 model for your daily schedule. Designate eight hours for work and career, eight hours for yourself and your family priorities and eight hours for rest. 

Make time for yourself: Part of your personal pillar should include some “me time” for peace, quiet, reflection and rejuvenation. Consider rising 30 to 60 minutes earlier and starting the day off with some movement, physical activity or quiet reflection. Your day will feel more centered and accomplished versus feeling overwhelmed and behind. I prefer to enjoy a workout and physical activity after dinner. Do not subscribe to the notion that if you are not a morning person and not working out in the early morning that you’re doing something wrong. However, if you are not getting the results that you want, switch up your activities. Do what’s right for you.

Structure is good: Just like children, adults need structure. Structure and a daily routine create freedom. Know your own personal energy patterns and build what you need into your day. I know that I need 20 minutes of meditative mental rest each afternoon. Numerous studies have proven that just 20 minutes of meditation are the equivalent of two hours of rest. What’s your 20? 

Prioritize and focus: Select and activate your top three high payoff activities that are important rather than merely urgent. Take the time to make your lists at the end of the business day and you will be ready to go the next morning. It’s easier to remember three priorities a day rather than a long To-Do List that never seems to become The Done List.

Say “no” more often: Speak up and be truthful about your limitations and commitments. Get comfortable saying “no.” Sure, it may disappoint others. They will get over it. Your responsibility is to your family, your business and yourself. Requests for your time that have a negative impact, no matter how trivial or insignificant, on any of your three pillars should be avoided. Remember, “no” is a “good” choice. 

Be consistent: Make regular deposits into your personal and professional energy savings account and reserves by eating whole, real food, regular activity and movement and restorative sleep. Inevitably you will need to make withdrawals when you are involved in mentally draining projects or are working long hours. With enough reserves you have enough goodness to draw upon. Take it one day at a time, even one minute at a time. Sometimes thoughts of the future can be daunting and can put you into a reactionary mode and that is never good.

Make better decisions about prioritizing your time, increase the goodness and get a bigger bang for your “buck,” whether the buck is your family, your business or your community.

• Kathleen Caldwell is president of Caldwell Consulting Group and the founder of the WHEE Institute (Wealthy, Healthy, Energetic Edge) of Woodstock. Reach her at www.caldwellconsulting.biz, kathleen@caldwellconsulting.biz or 815-206-4014.

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