Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Organization, time management

How to Reduce the Sense of Overwhelm in Parenting and Feel Less Rushed for Time.

Today’s blog post is designed to help you become more in control of lifestyle design, and a major question that comes up in lifestyle design is: “How do I feel less overwhelmed?!”

The second you are armed with the knowledge below, you are much better able to:

-Design your lifestyle

-Maintain time boundaries and get better at yes versus no.

-Reduce anxiety and that rushed feeling

-Feel less like time is slipping pouring through your fingers

Time management is like a sail boat in the ocean navigating to a destination.

Time Management is truly about constantly noticing when the winds of life (and your own management of the sails) blow you off track.  You have to then decide to stop, reassess the situation, decide what worked and what didn’t, and then adjust the sails to get back on course to your goals.  Equally important is we HAVE to know the destination, we HAVE to know what kind of lifestyle we want, and you know what, it looks very different from person to person.  Some people like a busy booked up life.  Others hate that.  We’ll get into that today.

A key point with sailing across the ocean, is that it will take constantly watching and adjusting the sails.  Sometimes you’ll slack off with the sails, like overcommitting.  Other times a storm will blow in (big life events.)  You don’t just get to sit back and sail to your desired lifestyle.

Even the best practitioners of time management find themselves saying yes to things, getting anxious, feeling frantic and overscheduled, and having to course correct when they realize they are passing that same rushed energy onto the kids… I can speak to this myself.

So, before we go further, let’s just note that this post isn’t a silver bullet.  This post is going to give you better awareness so that you can catch yourself before you are too far gone and rushing like a panicked parent chicken with its babies. I know you have that visual in your mind if you’ve ever been to a farm.

When I give you this tool, you’ll still be adjusting, correcting and feeling satisfied, then falling off track, adjusting, and correcting again.  But much less so than before and your goals, your destination will arrive sooner.

The Spectrum of Life and Time Management

Think of time management as a spectrum.  We are all constantly moving back and forth between two different styles of time management along the spectrum. We are going about, living out our lives using different styles, but we DO have a gravitational pull, or a preference to operate within a particular zone of the spectrum.  It’s what we like, what we are familiar with, and what suits us. It’s easy, accessible and familiar.  

But remember, when there’s a spectrum, there is an opposite version of what you prefer to do.  And lots of people prefer that different approach.  Even in the work world, there is a clear preference for how we are supposed to operate on the spectrum and we try our best to fit into that, no matter what our preference is.  It may be easy, or it may totally drain us.   

Ready to learn the styles?

The Organizer

The organizer likes a life that is has a nice structure.  They like to operate on some kind of schedule, with order.  Their lives are planned, well thought out and intentional, and the words definite or deliberate come to mind.  Their conversations are functional and effective, often inspiring action or takaways, or improvements in some manner. They like to come to decisions and take action, preferring to move forward with that plan – they don’t ilke to adjust or throw out a plan and in conversation, prefer to have closure and make a decision for action, than keep things open-ended.  You won’t hear them say “hey, let’s go for coffee sometime!” – they’ll ask “Would you like to go for coffee next week?” They will have the date set, in their calendar and they’ll commit (and show up on time.)  They prefer to have the say in decisions and get going on taking action and moving forward, often offering their opinion and stance in a matter and asking others for theirs.  They inspire people to set goals, plan and bring structure into their lives.

What makes an organizer tired, stressed, anxious, frantic, frazzled, overwhelmed and feeling like their life is slipping by too fast? 

Constantly changing situations, emergencies and unexpected events, changes of plans,  not having an input in the planning stages, lack of structure, disorganization, lack of clarity, lack of decision being made. Too few activities and underbooking.

The Adapter

The adapter loves the variety of life and emergent twists and turns that life brings. Though they live in structure as well (everyone needs it to some extent) they are very open to, and enjoy adapting to new information, situations or opportunities. And they are definitely not as structured as their counterparts.  Their conversations are open and speak of possibilities.  Not every conversation has to result in an action or takeaway.  They like to explore whether in life or conversation.  They will make decisions but know those can change, they understand the “diaper blowout in the car,” or the “running late” situation, and it doesn’t bother them in the slightest, in fact, they’re usually running a bit behind but don’t think it’s a big deal either.  Life happens and there are too many variables that can throw deadlines and times off. 

They are less willing to commit to too many things because of their appreciation of life and change, and they may tend to take a diplomatic middle stance in conversations, preferring to be open ended rather than decisive.  They are happy to roll with decisions – whether it’s theirs or others’ – because they know both lead to great places.  They are less quick to offer their opinion or stance, mostly because of their easy-going nature and preference not to pick a position.  They inspire people to relax, embrace life and spontaneity.

What makes an adapter tired, stressed, anxious, frantic, frazzled, overwhelmed and feeling like their life is slipping by too fast? 

Being controlled, no variety, the same schedule and events day in and day out, the same routine, lack of flexibility, no alternative approaches to plans that are made, being pushed to make a decision or share their stance on a topic they are not passionate about, not having places in their life where they can just say “surprise me!”  Too many events and overbooking.

We must honour our natural strengths and preferences, and make sure that we allow space for them in some domain of our lives (ie, if you are an adapter and have to be an organizer at work, honour your adapter nature with your kids and go on fun adventures.) 

Life becomes much easier, less stressful and less draining when we are kind and recognize our inner nature.   Honour who you are, what your preference is and if you find yourself becoming grumpy, stressed, rebellious or drained, ask yourself

Where have I been operating that moves away from my natural preferences?   What other areas can I put time into that will let me operate in my natural preferences?

When I am over-booked, over-committed and too structured, it crushes my soul and doesn’t allow for spontaneity and adventures.  I can’t commit to things 2 months in advance.  Life changes.  Right now, as a kindergartener parent I’m already not loving the restrictions on our day and where we can go in the 3 hours before school starts. A few months ago with my return to work I found myself with NO alone time, no unscheduled time, and no spontaneous creative expression or relax time.  Over two months that compounded and made me incredibly unhappy and almost militant in my approach to the day “kids we have to go NOW, because we have to be THERE AND WE CAN’T BE LATE.” I was stressed out, frazzled with no openings in my calendar to just be. Operating with a tight schedule and back to back events or bookings, I felt my mindset shift.  Previously, a diaper blowout or hard time getting the toddlers in the car was not abig deal, it’s just life with kids.  In a tightly scheduled day?  HUGELY stressful and I was getting so aggravated and rushing the kids out the door. I was keeping up to strict timelines without the natural preference or desire to do the planning and organization approaches that are necessary in a strict schedule, and I began to lose my spontaneity in adventures with the kids.  I had let myself go too long, forcing myself to be in a state that drains me and I got stuck there.  I was forcing my kids to and from the car to all sorts of scheduled events. Your kids pick up when you are not your best self, trust me!

I’ve spoken to parents who sit on the opposite side of the spectrum from me, and what is a huge stressor for them?   They  do such a great job of working on planning and structuring the family’s schedule and they are dedicated to making sure their lives cover a spectrum of experiences.  Life with kids throws so many wrenches into a day (sickness) and those last minute changes are not fun for an organizer.  They can be frustrated with late arrivals, cancelled RSVPs to an event, or the seeming lack of commitment from people for a plan everyone said they were interested in, that they are now working hard on bringing to fruition.

Wherever you are on the spectrum (and you can be in between!) it’s important to 

1.) Honour your natural strengths and make sure you commit to things in a way that honours your preference (structured or spontaneous.)  This will keep you content and less anxious/stressed/frazzled/frustrated. 

2.) Work to overcome weaknesses, improve and grow by ‘testing out’ or at least understanding the opposite approach. Walk in their shoes to appreciate both sides and elasticize your mind.

With this knowledge you can now be more aware of when you are in an environment that pushes you to work in your less preferred areas, which may drain you and stress you out.  

When it comes to time management these distinctions above are important because time management is NOT a one size fits all “hack” or “timetable” or “approach.”  Time management looks VERY different depending on where you are on, on this spectrum. As yourself, given my preferences, what is a great month for me?  How many events? What are they? Is there flexibility or is it more planned? Do I have time to plan and organize somethng (organizer) or do I have time to maybe do a random roadtrip; or fun activity with the kids (adapter) 

3.) Give people who frustrated you the benefit of the doubt.  Endeavour to understand their mindset. Nobody is ever doing something to upset you, they are simply acting from their philosophy of life, and once you ask them about it, you’ll completely understand why they act the way they do.

You don’t have to join them, but you can understand them and communicate better 🙂  You can state your boundaries and your needs, and honour your true nature instead of fit yourself to society which is telling you to be, act, and do a certain way.   That my friends, is a less stressed, less anxious, more in control parent who is mindful and intentional about everything they do, and is not mourning the loss of time. 

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