Posts tagged: Chaos

How to have a better day

February 10, 2016

Pop quiz: When is the last time you were none of these things?

  • Worried
  • Anxious
  • Distracted
  • Scattered
  • Forgetful
  • Regretful
  • Overwhelmed
  • Stressed
  • Tired

Can’t recall, right? We’ve all got a lot on our minds. Ruminating on old mistakes. Avoiding new ones. Planning what we need to do. Anticipating what we’ll forget. It’s a constant scramble.

But what if we could clear up our jumbled thoughts?

What if we could leave the past in the past, the future to the future?

If we could give our whole attention to what we’re doing as we’re doing it?

Then we’d be fully present. Whatever we’re doing, we’d likely do it better. Conversations would become more fruitful. Tasks could become less tedious. Trust, empathy, adaptability — all would deepen and grow. We’d be engaged in each moment, so each moment would count.

Being present is an attitude shift. It doesn’t change the world, but it changes how we experience it — what we notice, how we respond. It’s a commitment
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How to escape the busyness trap

March 24, 2015

“I’m so busy!”

It’s the auto-pilot response to “How are you?” these days. And of course we are busy. In addition to family, friends, and work, we’ve got a whole world at our fingertips to keep up with.

All this busyness can be overwhelming. But it can also be comforting — for a couple of reasons. Being busy brings a kind of badge of honor that the world needs us. It’s also an excellent way to steer clear of life’s thornier issues.

And that’s when we can get stuck — taking life as it comes rather than giving direction to how we spend our days.

I’m busy, therefore I amQuick story: Ann was waiting for the restroom at one of Boston’s trendier brunch places. A woman got in line behind her and casually began complaining about her lack of free time. So many obligations on the weekends, she said, kept her
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15 ways to stay focused in a distracted world

February 9, 2015

Stuck Moment: I feel like my day is one big interruption. A steady stream of questions, last-minute requests, and texts that just won’t quit. How am I supposed to focus on what I already have to do? And how long can I keep this up?

*  *  *

Modern life is a minefield of distractions. Ever burgeoning gadgets, games, information sources — even open-plan offices — conspire to divert our attention away from whatever we need to concentrate on. Neuroscientist Frances Jensen recently dubbed this “the dementia of the preoccupied,” referring to how it feels to continually shift her attention throughout the day.“Things fall through the cracks,” she says.

Indeed, our daily frenzy probably is causing us to miss a lot, perhaps without realizing it. Take it one step further, and that fractured focus gets in the way of doing our best, or doing it at all, even when it’s important to
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6 steps to defuse a drama queen and get your life back

October 27, 2014
"Difficulty is inevitable. Drama is a choice." —Anita Renfroe

Stuck moment: Oh no. She’s calling AGAIN. At midnight! I wonder what her freak-out is this time… More boyfriend drama? Her boss has a concern about her project proposal? That “weird” headache she had last week is back? I guess I better answer, or I’m in for a guilt-trip next time I see her.

* * *

Like many things in life, our relationship with drama is a cultural paradox.

When we’re safely on the sidelines, drama queens can be funny or fascinating. We breathlessly track the on-screen exploits of the Real Housewives. Look for outrage in sensationalized headlines. Eagerly tune into the weatherman’s promise of a storm of a lifetime. We’ve got no problem with hyperbole and hysteria — as long as it’s not in our backyard.

But plant these tribulations in our own lives, and it’s not nearly so much
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How to fix your worst money mistakes

October 2, 2014

In his late 20s, Jason Hull found himself stuck $300,000 in debt. He admits that, after graduating with an engineering degree from West Point, he’d used the relative riches of his first real job to enjoy the consumption-driven good life, blinders up to potential consequence.

“We’re such a consumer-based culture that we see fancy clothes, cars, and we think, I have to be like that,” Jason says. “It’s easy to fall into this trap of keeping up appearances, especially when you’re comparing yourself to your peer group. You buy things to impress that person on the street you’ll never see again. Things that will have no impact on your happiness or career.”

His moment of reckoning came when he realized that his relationship with the woman he wanted to marry could be jeopardized by how much he owed. She, after all, was debt-free. It filled him with shame that he wasn’t
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The secret to work-life balance

July 21, 2014

My husband, Jesse, has been 263 miles away since Monday. (Again.) I threw together an improvised childcare plan — involving two paid babysitters, some kind-hearted neighbors, and an indispensible Granny — so I could pull extra hours at the office while my boss was out of town. When I got home, I put the kids to bed with a stern message to win the going-to-bed-game so I could teach a few online writing courses. Later, I packed (okay, made a packing list) for vacation — which officially begins as soon as I finish writing this.

Did I mention that I may have called my husband in tears on my way to work because a political situation in the office was spinning out of control?

Balance? Not exactly. More like falling. And that’s the good news.

The fine art of falling down a hillI learned how to ski last winter. My husband is a passionately committed
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6 ways getting organized can transform your life

April 24, 2014

Stuck moment: Who took my freaking keys? I found one clean shirt, but where’s the iron? Weren’t my files right under that pile of magazines? I guess it’s just going to be one of those mornings — again.

* * *

When our homes are cluttered, it’s hard to think straight. We get cranky and exhausted, and we might not even know why. But if chaos is what you come home to each night, and what you launch yourself into the world from each morning, it’s going to take a toll. You end up feeling like a smaller, less authentic version of yourself.

An easy antidote is to stop thinking about getting organized as a drain on our time and energy, and instead look at it as a way to maximize the time and energy we do have. 

Ask yourself, What can an organized home environment do for me?

Some pretty amazing things, it turns
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Question: Is it ever okay to work without a plan?

April 10, 2014

For the organized among us, this question is a nonstarter. For the rest, we bet lots of reasons come to mind, like: I don’t want to stifle creativity. It will make an easy project harder. Nobody pays attention to the plan anyway. Underneath those reasons lurk the real reasons: What if my plan doesn’t work? I don’t think that way. Planning is hard.

To those real reasons we say: A plan helps you stay on track, and helps you know when you’re not. It doesn’t have to be complicated or follow someone else’s overthought format. And it should never be carved in stone.

You can make a real plan, with dates and everything, in about five minutes using Unstuck’s “Get Your Game On” tool. If you’re on your iPad, click to go directly to the tool (this won’t work if you’re using Unstuck on the web). Or download the free Unstuck
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How the right routine can save the day

December 9, 2013

Oh, holy routine! Every day, it seems, brings fresh tribute to the early morning habits of Benjamin Franklin or the five things that any successful person must do before breakfast. Success begins to sound like 1% inspiration and 99% perfect routine. 

But you can’t punch out the perfect routine with a cookie cutter. We’re all different. Special snowflakes, like our mothers always said. And, while there are some truths universal to human biology (we’ve never met a successful person who could go a straight 48 hours without sleep), our bodies and brains all work just a bit uniquely. When you factor in each person’s different jumble of workday tasks and projects — plus social demands and other commitments — it’s clear that one-size-fits-all time management formulas don’t work.

A truly effective routine begins with self-knowledge. Highly productive people, whether creative, corporate, or domestic, hone their routines to take advantage of their body’s
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How to power up your productivity

December 2, 2013

We live in the age of the superhuman. We’re supercharged supercomputing superbeings supertasking. We do more than any single human being in any previous era ever imagined possible. Watch us juggle between jobs and hobbies, family and friends, home stuff and travel, professional networks and personal lives. You name it — it’s already on the calendar.

No wonder we’re overwhelmed.  

You know that feeling. When one task or one demand too many shifts us from all systems go to overload. That surrendering realization of, “Ugh. I. Just. Can’t. Anymore.” That’s when productivity stalls and we get stuck.

Counter to the advice of every sports coach we ever had, the answer isn’t to try harder. It’s to work smarter, to work in tune with our bodies, our brains, and our metabolic needs. In his book Your Brain at Work, David Rock explains why the burden we place on ourselves these days wears
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