How to Take Control of Your Life, Get More Done & Eliminate Overwhelm – Part II

May 12, 2020 | Time Management

In my last post, I talked about the importance of carefully scheduling your days and weeks and to include “life giving” events in that schedule. To further illustrate this, I would like to share a story.. Itʼs actually a true story about Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychologist, who had a house on the Lake Zurich, in Switzerland, where I grew up.

Often people made appointments to see Carl Jung at his home so that they could talk through their problems in that comfortable venue. One day a wealthy lady phoned him to request an urgent appointment the following day at 3.00 in the afternoon. He said that it would not be possible because he was already committed to an important appointment at that time.

The following day, at 3 oʼclock, the lady who had made the request happened to be in a boat sailing past his garden, which led down to the shore of the Lake of Zurich. There she saw him, sitting on a low wall with his shoes and socks off, dangling his feet in the water. She was angry – he had lied to her, she said to herself. He had no appointment at all!

When she arrived home, being still angry and phoned him. “You said that you couldnʼt see me because you had a very important engagement. I saw you at that very time, doing nothing but sitting on the shore of the lake by yourself.”

Jung replied: “I told you no lie. I had an appointment. It was the most important appointment of the week – an appointment with me.”

Iʼd like to take the story a little step further and suggest that you try to make it a daily or at least every other day appointment with yourself. The story illustrates the not only the importance of what really impacts our lives, but how we feel about ourselves, and the stress level that we experience. You need to have a break in the middle of the day to do whatever it is that you enjoy. What are those things which bring joy and peace to you at this time, so that you can look forward to that, and can tackle whatever the morning brings, and after the break the afternoon. Itʼs a lot easier that way. It will take discipline, commitment and you need to put it on your schedule. If you do not do it right now, and further do not try to go from nothing to doing it every day, but maybe just try to do it at least once a week, so like Carl Jung, have one appointment with yourself once a week and then your goal is eventually to go to once a day.

The success rate is much bigger, if you take one step at a time rather than when you try to go from zero to a hundred in a single step. Also, we think we have to get all this stuff done! One of my clientʼs husbands made a very wise statement to his wife. He said to consider what the absolute worst that could happen, if you did not do “this or that”, and when she told me this, I knew I had to use it. Self-imposed impossible deadlines as well as the impossible to accomplish are the stuff that create unnecessary stress. I would like to share a story with you about a client of mine.

She had wanted to paint her daughterʼs bedroom. She said I have to get this done. So I asked, why and how soon? And then we got to talk about it. She realized it was her telling herself that she had to get this done. I said, “How about you tackle this wall this weekend and then next weekend you can tackle that wall? All of a sudden, the project wasn’t as daunting as before.

One of my instructor coaches suggests that you pick one set night a week, say Sunday night, assign 30 minutes of that evening when you will normally have enough time and a quiet space to plan your week to come. Include all the things that you have to do for your job, your family, social and other things. Make it comprehensive, including absolutely everything, and the more detailed you are, the easier it is to follow.

This is a story that my coach told me. One of his clients, she was a single mom and she worked full-time just trying to raise the kids, and take care of the bills. When she came home, all of the kids would be jumping around they were good kids around 8, 9 and 12 years old.

He said to her what is it that you will need from your kids to feel more balanced and less stressed out?

She said, “If I only had 45 minutes after I get home to just to change hats from businesswoman, or whatever she did work-wise, to mom, that would be great.”

“Well, how about asking your kids?” She just stared at him. And that evening she did. She told the kids that “mom really needs 45 minutes when she gets home, just to unwind and then sheʼll be there for you.”

The kids answer was, “oh, why didnʼt you say so?” And this included the little ones. If you communicate what it is that you need rather than just assuming, you may have a pleasant surprise, and even if the answer is negative, that there will less stress in your life. A huge difference can easily happen if we do not guess. We cannot expect that others should know. Very few of us have a house few of psychics. Very likely, the same is true in our place of employment.

For those of you in a committed relationship, that assumption mistake is also for you. This, I have learned and I wish I had that known this lesson 20 years ago, but better late than never. May I suggest that you make a date once a week with your significant other put that on your weekly schedule?

If you have kids, you may need a regular babysitter. Line them up in advance. If possible, tell the babysitter you will need them every Friday night or every Saturday night. Okay? In my case and that of my wife, we were both working full-time, and so when we came home and wanted to go out, we felt guilty. Anybody who can relate to that?

We became aware that our kids were not getting what they deserved. What they had was a couple of really stressed out and frustrated parents. It was not fair to them, they deserved better than that. I will never forget this one time when we were driving out of the driveway, and the kids were standing on top of the driveway with the babysitter saying, ”party, party!” My wife and I looked at each other and were very concerned until we realized that not only were they encouraging us, teasing us, and most of all looking forward to the time that they would have with their really great babysitter. It turned out that they had a good time, and we had a good time. Itʼs something that somehow is ingrained in us to read the negative into things and situations. Once we get over feeling guilty, everybody wins and we are able to have a good time with each other, and recharge our batteries. When we get home our kids get a hundred percent of us and not the leftovers. 


Written by Christoph Nauer.
Christoph is a Brian Tracey certified Time Management Master.
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