Mind Over Matter
The start of a new year brings with it a raft of resolutions and cliches. Eat better, exercise more...and so on. There's nothing wrong with having goals but rather than make rash and rapid decisions because a new year has begun and a general sense of change is pushed upon us, why not strive for something that is longer lasting? Some simple yet effective plans to bring about a more organised and less chaotic year.
This time last year, I decided to take some drastic actions with all of the above. The diet lasted a couple of weeks before admitting I was actually okay with who I am and how I look and shedding a few more pounds wasn't worth the effort. The exercise however, remained consistently good, thanks to two energetic dogs who require multiple walks every day.
But the mind - a head space congested by overthinking - now that was a clear out that reaped the most rewards. By offloading the negative, the working day became a far more spacious and creative place. Small changes can make a big difference so I've listed three things that helped me stay grounded and content in 2017 and remain with me as we start this new and exciting year.
I'm not talking about a spring clean where you rid the home of decades of stuff you really don't want or need. I'm talking about your work space. Whether it's in a corporate office or a small home office like mine, your work area should be a sacred place that is sparse in materials but bursting with ideas. My work space is small on room but the changes I made last year make it feel like I'm sitting in a vast expanse where there is nothing to interrupt the mind's thoughts or creative flow. All I did was create a blank canvas where I sit with a laptop and a cup of coffee and write. Everything now has a home. The printer paper no longer sits on top of the desk with last week's notes and rewrites. At the end of every day, papers are filed or binned. So each morning is a new start free from a paper trail from the day or weeks or months before. Even the pens have a home. This one act has made my work area an absolute pleasure. It is clutter free and inviting. An escapism in itself.
Do what you can today:
We're not superhuman but at times you might feel you have to be depending on the workload expected of you. If you find yourself juggling multiple projects at once, learn how to prioritise. This is where the good old 'to do' list comes in very handy. I have many clients with numerous deadlines staggered across each month. If you're not organised this could become overwhelming. Instead, I have a very good system where I allocate time on four days of every week to all clients. The fifth working day is then spent solely on the project with the most pressing deadline. This allows for consistency across all projects but frees up precious hours to concentrate only on what is urgently in need of address. By doing this, stress and pressure is kept at bay.
Keep your eyes on you:
The nature of work can often be driven by competition. You can feel pitted against colleagues or other companies. Praise might be in short supply from managers but criticism could be handed out like candy. When the mind is worried or stressed or under pressure there is a tendency to look to others and wish your success was a little more like theirs or will yourself to be as outgoing as that colleague who has the bosses ear. The fact is that in the grand scheme of things, none of this matters. If you learn to detach yourself from toxic thoughts and the 'What ifs' you free up so much room in your head for more important things. Since leaving journalism and working for myself I no longer second guess my performance or capabilities. I'm not a PR powerhouse with staff and resources aplenty but I am competent at what I do and reliable in how I work and deliver. If you're doing great, then well done you. But I'm just fine as I am. I came across an amazing quote early last year that has stuck with me: "I'm too busy with my own grass to notice if yours is greener". Try to stick to this ethos and you'll soon start to appreciate being you and what you have achieved.
Happy New Year!