Controlling the Chaos

Tick-tock, tick-tock. The hours go by, but the work isn’t getting done. Tick-tock, tick tock. A few more hours have gone by, and still, you have accomplished very little. People everywhere have competing priorities. Parent, spouse, boss, employee. Which hat are you wearing today? Do you often find you have to wear multiple hats at once to address the mounting priorities that scream for attention while you are focusing on something else?

Accepting a chaotic lifestyle has become the norm for the majority of our society. The reasons people accept being pulled in multiple directions vary. Many feel if they aren’t juggling their responsibilities, they aren’t being productive. Society has taught them that multitasking is a way to show their ability to be a high performer. The thought is that high producing personnel can eliminate the need for multiple employees to provide those same services. This causes the high producing employee to continue to perform at an unhealthy pace resulting in a burnt-out employee.

Others may find themselves to be overachievers. Overachievers are people who achieve more than is expected. The problem is, to achieve more than expected, they must put forth an excessive amount of effort. This excessive amount of effort can cause chaos while trying to achieving high levels of success. Excessive amounts of anything can have its problems. In this case, excessive effort can cause fatigue, burn out and in many cases, problems with co-workers.

Oftentimes some may feel as if they are spinning in their tracks and not moving forward, even though our attention is focused on achieving one goal. This often happens when our thoughts are sporadic, disorganized and disjointed. Like a dog who sees a rabbit, we may have one thought that quickly gets knocked out of the way by another interesting thought even though we hadn’t fully completed the last thought. Although focused on one goal, we can’t seem to make any progress because we aren’t able to organize our thoughts which causes chaos in our mind.

There are strategies that when put into place can lower, if not eliminate the amount of chaos we experience daily. I’ve always said, you don’t know how to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going. By this, I simply mean you should have a goal. Many people live their entire lives with no goals, no expectations and no focus. They don’t like to make plans for anything. Instead, these people will take life as it comes. While topically, a whimsical life with no plans, or expectations may sound relaxing and fun, it is actually wrought with stressful anxiety of the unknown and unexpected. Even the thought of it makes me tremble in horror.

Each night before I go to bed, I take out my handy-dandy planner and look at my weekly goal. Goals don’t have to be long term. They can be extremely short term. Having a weekly goal will guide your efforts for that week to obtain your desired result. Once you have established your weekly goal, you can then further determine your focus each day that will work towards your goal. This strategy will ensure you use your time efficiently on various projects or tasks in support of that weekly goal. A daily focus will guide your thoughts and energy so you can set aside any random thoughts that are not directly related to that day’s focus.

There are multiple benefits of goal setting. Other than the focus it gives to ensure all your energies are working towards your goal, it can help organize your life altogether. When you have something to look forward to (your goal) it gives you a reason to get out of bed each day and face the world. Goals keep you from being distracted by people, thoughts, technology and anything else life dishes out to keep you from making progress. At the end of the week when you have accomplished your goal, you will have cause for celebration because you set a goal and stayed focused until it was completed.

Another strategy aimed at controlling the chaos in your life is the prioritization of responsibilities. Everyone has multiple responsibilities that demand attention daily. To organize the chaos surrounding these competing priorities you should take the time to rank your responsibilities, which will lead to the realization that not everything has to be done right now. By ranking our priorities based on your established factors of importance, you will focus on your highest priorities first, with the understanding that you will address the lower priorities at a more opportune time.

One popular way to manage priorities is by using a planner. With a planner, you can devote a set amount of time for your priorities throughout the day, week or month. Those listed as high priorities will be scheduled first and those with the lowest priorities will be scheduled later in the day or week. This will ensure all the areas of your life have the appropriate amount of your time and attention devoted to them.

Don’t worry. Although it may seem as if you aren’t making progress now, if you practice some of the strategies listed, you will be on your way to achieving every goal you set for yourself. It won’t happen overnight. Through your hard work and diligence, you will soon be able to start crossing items off your to-do list while taking time to enjoy your goal-oriented focused life.