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time management

From Chaos to Clarity: The 5 Things You Need to Take Back Your Life

June 1, 2020

Reading Time: 10 minutes

From Chaos to Clarity: The 5 Things You Need to Take Back Your Life

Life can be crazy. There’s no doubt about that. Our to-do lists are overflowing, and sometimes it feels like there’s just never enough time to do it all, be it all or have it all. In this episode, Anna reveals the 5 core elements to living a life of fulfillment.

 

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Without a doubt, this is probably the most important episode I’ve recorded so far – so you definitely made the right choice in tuning in. In the past two weeks, I’ve had the honor and privilege of spending hours upon hours talking with busy professionals – just like you – and helping them excavate their most meaningful vision for the future.

If you were in one of the Get a Game Plan workshops, you know that at the end I offered the rare opportunity to spend a full hour with me not only creating a vision for the future, but also uncovering what’s holding you back and what life might look like if it doesn’t change.

You know – all of us – we all shoulder so many different responsibilities. At home, in relationships, at work – maybe we’re running a business or leading a team. And it’s so common – so incredibly common – to feel like life has just gotten the best of you, like it’s a runaway train. We’re tired, maybe a little snappy – but hey – we’re doing our best.

But if things don’t change – if we don’t figure this out – it looks like a one way ticket to burnout. To resentment. To living life on autopilot – which I know none of us want.

We want fulfilling lives. Lives on fire. Relationships with spark. Goals that are driven by a greater purpose. We want a reason to wake up in the morning feeling excited and ready to win the day.

That’s why today – I’m sharing for the first time, to an audience, at least – the five key components, the five puzzle pieces, the 5 key ingredients – whatever you want to call it – the 5 things that you need take bold steps away from the chaos and toward clarity so you can take back your life.

 

 


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So today, I’m talking about

  • Why these 5 things – these 5 elements of life are so important

  • I’ll explain what exactly they are

  • And I’ll share how you can start leaning into them and taking action immediately.

These 5 elements to taking back your life and living with the clarity you crave – well, they’re the culmination of years of research, reading, experience, experimentation, trial and error, failure and success.

This is the heart and soul of how I hope to serve you. 

Sometimes life can feel like a runaway train. That’s not news to anyone. And the past few months of staying in, many of us without childcare while still trying to keep our businesses afloat and our work on track – I can speak from experience. It’s been really hard.

And I can also speak from experience that without a firm grasp on the 5 elements I’m about to share with you, I’m not sure what my life would look like – but I probably wouldn’t be recording this podcast. I’d have probably just given up.

But the difference between giving up, and moving forward. The difference between chaos and clarity – is – put simply – living with heart.

living with heart

So what does that mean – living with heart. Because I’ll be honest, whenever the idea first came to me – it simultaneously felt like a lightning bolt and also the cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

Living with Heart? Ugh – that sounds so sappy. So fluffy. It just didn’t feel like me. And maybe you’re wrinkling your nose, thinking the same thing and wondering where the heck this is going.

Well – here we go.

Living with heart, at its core – is living a life of purpose.

It’s knowing who you are, what you do, why you do it, how you do it, and what you do it for.

I’m looking forward to doing a full episode in the future on the importance of knowing your “why” – but living with heart is knowing, without a doubt, what it is that matters most to you – what it is that you truly value.

You’ve probably heard me say before that time management is heart management – because you can’t even begin to purposefully plan your days and weeks without knowing what’s truly important.

A pretty paper planner can’t save you, and time management is way more than moving things around on a calendar. Instead it’s creating a calendar that reflects your values, rather than moving from one thing to the next out of empty obligation or racing to the thing that’s most on fire.

But – if we can all agree that Yes! We want to live a life with heart. A life with purpose and meaning – how do we do that?

Another to do list we can’t finish? Is there an app for that?

Without a clear guide or a framework, we’re left to figure it out for ourselves – as if we don’t have enough to figure out, like taxes, childcare and what’s for dinner tonight.

 

 


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Amazingly enough – it’s right there in the word heart.

H. E. A. R. T.

  • H for habits.

  • E for energy

  • A for attention

  • R for recharge

  • And T for Time.

And if you’re wondering what book I got this from, or where I learned this – This is all me.

This is what I’ve discovered after years of research and trial & error, and this is now the framework that I use with my time management coaching clients – and I’m so thrilled to share it with you.

Now – let me tell you about each core component, and why it’s so critical to creating the calm, prepared life of clarity and purpose that we crave.

Habits

First – Habits. Habits are the tiny building blocks of our lives. And you’d be surprised to realize that so much of what we do on a regular basis – day by day – week by week – is sewn together by a series of habits. This is why so many of – or well, all of us – were totally thrown for a loop in those early weeks of staying at home back in March and April.

Our routines were totally thrown off, our environment was totally different – and our ingrained habits didn’t make sense anymore.

We also felt so exhausted at the end of the day – because instead of operating based on our tiny web of habits, we were making so many new decisions about how to do life.

Understanding the anatomy of a habit is the starting point to creating good ones. Understanding how you thrive in rewarding yourself for habits in the fuel that keeps the fire going.

In his book, Atomic Habits, author James Clear said – “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement,” and “Success if the product of daily habits – not one-in-a-lifetime transformation.”

Anything worth doing – anything transformational – takes time. Losing weight or getting in the best health of your life, graduating with a Masters or PhD, learning a musical instrument…

All examples of things that take practice and commitment. But even if you’re not working toward one of those things specifically, the creation of positive habits in your life is you taking intentional steps in the direction of creating a better life for yourself. Little by little, your progress adds up.

Energy

Next – E for Energy. Can’t really get all that much done if you’re exhausted all the time, right?

Well sure – of course – but there’s a little more to it than that. If you’ve ever told someone that you’re just not a morning person, then you’ve probably experienced first hand the fact that we all have different energy peaks and valleys during our days. 

Now what’s really amazing is that if you can zero in on when your peak energy times are – you can be super intentional about how you use that time.

To take it a step further – I’m going to bet – because I know I’m right – that some types of work that you do – some of the things on your to do list make you feel like time is standing still and flying by at the same time. You know – that work that gives you energy, makes your heart sing. I call this working in your Genius Zone. You’re in your element. You love what you’re doing, and you’re good at it. Great at it.

Now imagine – if you could take that energy giving work and strategically time it during your high energy time of day? Or if you could take that important, deep work that requires your best levels of concentration and save it for those peak energy times. It’s basically an opportunity to 10x your productivity, plus – it feels amazing.

You know what else can feel pretty amazing?

A nap, and a cup of coffee.

Harnessing your energy can look like a strategic latte or a well-timed nap. And sometimes both – in what Daniel Pink, the author of When, calls a nappuccino.

Attention

On to the A – Attention.

American knowledge workers – aka pretty much anybody who’s job involves tapping away on a laptop – get hit with a distraction of some kind every 40 seconds. On top of that – it can take an average of 29 minutes to regain your focus after a distraction. Knowing those two pieces of info, it’s seriously a wonder that we can get anything done. 

That’s why strengthening your attention muscle is so critical to time well spent.

Whether you flex that muscle with meditation, mindfulness, visualization or some other form of “focus practice” the ability to drown out distractions and get deep work – aka your work that requires thought, focus, creativity and problem solving to complete – the ability to drown out distractions and get that important deep work done is a hot commodity in today’s workforce.

But it’s about more than just work – it’s the ability to be present with your family in your off hours. And stifling the urgency to check your phone after being away from it for a few minutes. So many of us strive to be truly present in our lives – and yet, we’re just one ding, buzz, ping or beep away from being lightyears away mentally.

That’s why focusing your attention is just as much external as it is internal. Really taking stock of where your most frequent distractions come from and asking yourself – is this notification really necessary? It can make a monumental difference, for such a low effort adjustment.

Recharge

The R – Recharge.

We’re definitely not robots, but y’all we have to recharge our batteries.

We’ve got to get rest – real quality sleep at night – 7-9 hours is the recommended for adults, but research shows that only about 27% of us are getting there. Not getting enough sleep compromises your health and your productivity.

And if you’ve got little kids, toddlers or babies at home, bless you, because I definitely know how hard it can be to clock that beauty sleep – and I know those 2am wake-ups aren’t always in your control.

But there’s more to recharge than just getting the recommended amount of sleep each night.

We also need recreation and relationships to fuel our fire.

Fun for the sake of fun, hobbies, making things with our hands, sports – Gosh – I remember having conversations with friends back in December when we all had New Years Resolutions on the brain. So many friends I talked with wanted to inject more fun into life – but they hadn’t had intentional fun in so long they didn’t even know where to start.

We’d all gotten so busy making our lives – growing our families, our careers, businesses – that we’d kind of stopped having fun. 

My friend Calder signed up for like 6 different cooking classes. My friend Ross decided to learn how to speak with a Mid-Atlantic accent – you like like in old movies with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and my friend Katie got really into making craft cocktails.

I baked the chocolate cake on the cover of the December issue of Southern Living Magazine – the one with gum paste magnolias on it. It took me three days and late nights, but y’all – it was so much fun. (You can see the whole thing in my Instagram highlights if you’re curious.)

Bottom line – figure out what’s fun for you and do it. It replenishes your creativity, reinvigorates your problem solving skills and gives you brand new perspective to bring to other areas of life.

Other areas like your relationships. No man – or woman – is an island, y’all!

We need people. It takes a village. Find your tribe.

But adult relationships can be really hard.

But giving support to others, and getting it when you need it – that’s what helps push you forward. Love and kindness from a good friend, support from an accountability partner – it takes intention to nurture these life-giving relationships. And those living giving relationships nurture us right back.

So that’s why Recharge is more than just rest. It’s finding your version of recreation and being intentional with your relationships.

Time

And finally – oh-so-appropriately – the T is last. For time. And I’m so glad it’s last – because it makes so much sense.

Guys – just like I said in the beginning.

  • If you don’t know who you are, or where you’re going. If you don’t have a firm grasp on what truly matters most to you – you’ll always feel lost.

  • If you don’t cultivate good habits to create that incremental success, little by little – day by day – you’ll never become the person you want to be.

  • If you don’t harness your energy, and make the most of your best work at the best time – you’ll always feel exhausted.

  • If you don’t strengthen your attention muscle so you can truly focus on what matters most – your work, your family – then you’ll always feel scattered.

  • And if you don’t dedicate yourself to intentional recharge through rest, recreation and relationships – you’ll always feel empty.

Good time management puts all of those pieces into place.

Good time management helps you design a life that reflects your values, enables you to feel calm, peaceful, intentional, purposeful – and good time management helps you live a life with heart.

Now that I’ve shared each of these 5 core elements living with heart – I hope it feels a little less cheesy to you – and more like a guide, or a map – or maybe even an instruction manual to leaving chaos in the dust and stepping boldly into the clarity that we all crave.


 

 


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What will it take you to get from chaos to calm?

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