Pop quiz: the alarm didn’t go off on your phone this morning so you woke up late, someone spilt milk all over the kitchen floor which meant you had to spend 10 minutes cleaning up while trying to get yourself and 2 children dressed and out the door and then, when you think you might just make it to work on time, you have to spend another 5 minutes searching the house for your car keys which you eventually find down the side of the couch which was where you looked in the very first place but they escaped your frantic searching!
What do you do? How does the rest of your day pan out?
Are you Mr or Mrs Cool, Calm and Collected? The person the rest of us wish we could be more like? You know, the one who would never lose their keys on the way out the door? The person who never even raises their voice let alone shouts and swears? The one who generally appears to have their shit together all the time?
Now, people are people at the end of the day and everybody has days where things don’t go to plan. Days when the swan on the water comparison is totally what’s going on – smooth on the surface but paddling like mad underneath.
But is it possible to become more relaxed, calm and consistent in your everyday life no matter what life throws at you?
I am not a chilled person and I struggle to admit this but it makes me fairly unreliable. I hate that I am rarely on time for things, that I say I’ll do something and then remember in the middle of the night that I forgot to do it and that most of the time I’m running around like a headless chicken getting nowhere fast and without getting much done of the things that need to be done, never mind the things I want to get done.
My brother Gumby on the other hand, was not like me at all. He was an expert at being calm, cool and collected. I always admired him for being so together. He saved his money, kept fit, travelled the world and did activities that made him happy. He always had a plan and would do whatever it took to make that plan happen, even if it meant being somewhere he didn’t want to be for a little while and doing things he didn’t particularly want to do such as living in a caravan in the middle of the UK and driving tractors for 15 hours a day for months on end. It was a means to an end and he just got on with it. When things went wrong, he would take it in his stride, see what needed to be done, change things a little if needed and then get on with it, no praise or recognition required.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how he managed to be like this and while there are loads of things that you could do to make you more productive and chilled at the same time, these 4 resonate the most with me:
1) Write stuff down
Among the many reasons it’s useful to write things down is the fact that it can be a huge relief to empty your mind by having a good ole’ brain dump! Putting thoughts to paper (or word document!) frees up your mind to think about the things that really matter. Like actually writing a report at work rather than worrying about remembering to buy 2l of milk on the way home!
Another really useful way to keep focused and calm is to keep a written track of everything you do each day to reach your goals. It can be incredibly disheartening at the end of the day to feel as if you did nothing to work towards your personal goals but by writing down what you do every day you can easily see how well (or not so well) you’re doing and how far you’ve come.
For example, Gumby always saved enough money to buy what he wanted outright – he could be quite a Scrooge in that respect. He kept a record of every single penny that came in and went out and this meant that he always knew exactly where he was in relation to his savings target. This really helped him to keep focused on his priorities and stopped him from spending money needlessly.
This is how it should work with keeping food diaries and exercise journals as well. Imagine how rewarding it will be to see after 2 months that when you started keeping a record you could just about walk around the block and two months later you’re running a 10k every other day!
When you feel like giving up on healthy eating cos you’re sick of salad, having a look at your written record and goals will remind you that the reason you’re doing it is because you really want to fit into that size 12 dress this Christmas (it’s been hanging in the cupboard for 3 years and if you don’t make it this year, you’ll be getting rid of it!)
2) Just get on with it
When you know something has to be done, get on and do it as soon as you can. A great book I’ve been reading is Eat That Frog!: Get More of the Important Things Done – Today!
Now it sounds a bit gross but in this respect a frog is a task that needs doing and the idea is to eat the biggest, ugliest frog first thing in the morning knowing that will be the worst part of your day over with.
Easier said than done when you’re a procrastinator like I am. This is where those written down goals and to-do lists come in handy so you can see exactly what needs to be done every day and prioritise the biggest, most important jobs on your list. The sense of achievement you get once you’ve done that big task early on will give you a positive good feeling for the rest of the day which in turn makes you more productive throughout the day.
The sad thing is, no matter how much you try to ignore the job that needs to be done, it won’t go away until it’s done so just get on with it!
3) Don’t say yes to everything
It can be really difficult to say no to people but truly chillaxed people know that in order to stay calm, relaxed and reliable, sometimes you have to. The truth is, if you say yes to everything, you soon run out of time to do the things that are important in your life. This lack of time and resulting lack of getting things done equals a not very relaxed feeling at all.
If you struggle to say no, and let’s face it, most of us do, this article explains why you might find it so tricky and gives 7 handy tips on how to say no and let people down gently.
4) Make sure that something in every day makes your heart and soul happy
Imagine how great it would be if you knew that at the end of every day you’d get a chance to curl up with a book for 20 minutes or go for a blood – pumping, endorphin – releasing surf or gym class or spend half an hour uninterrupted playtime with your kids? That you’d be guaranteed half an hour of doing something you’ve been looking forward to all day that makes you feel happy and chillaxed?
It’s so important to take the time to do something you love every single day as this list of reasons explains well. Heads up, this is not ‘me time’ or ‘alone’ time although that’s really important too. This is ‘making sure that something in every day makes your heart and soul happy’ time.
Now, you might be thinking that you don’t need to choose something in particular as you have lots of happy moments every day. That may be so but by specifically choosing and focusing on one activity, you will start to get into the habit of thinking about yourself. What is important is that you are deliberately doing something to fulfil your needs, not a happy accident from filling somebody else’s because we all know that when you care about and look after yourself, you’re so much better for those around you.
If you’re not sure where to start with this, then start by making a list of 10 things you really enjoy doing. Here are ideas to get you going …..
- go for a walk/run/bike ride or any other activity
- read a book
- have a bubble bath
- spend time just being with the kids when you get home from work
- go to the movies
- have a date night
- listen to music
- phone a friend
- lie on the grass and watch the clouds float by, or the night stars
- have a picnic for lunch
Anything at all that floats your boat then pick at least one every day. Add to the list as you get more ideas.
There you are, 4 productivity tips from a master of chillaxing! If you try any one of these you will no doubt feel more in control of your life and as a result, calmer and more relaxed, ready for whatever little surprises life may have in store for you!
If you like this or know someone who could do with a bit more chillaxing in their life, then share this with them!
Let us know how you get on or any other things you find helpful in the comments below 🙂