Simple changes, big results

running clothesIt is no secret that I have struggled with over-commitment and being overwhelmed, mostly due to my inability to say the word “no” and my tendency to get caught up in the doing and not spend enough time on the planning.

I suspect I am not alone in the frustration, and I read blogs, hear discussions at work, and read comments online by people who are juggling work, family, exercise and all sorts of other obligations, trying to do it all and still have time to sleep!

I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but I am learning some small things that are having a huge impact in my state of busyness.

In the online class I am taking called “Work Like You’re On Vacation” (WLOV), leader Rob Hatch with Human Business Works (affiliate link) teaches that it’s important to “Put Success In Your Way.” The most visual example of this is laying out your workout clothes the night before so that you are ready to workout first thing in the morning, no excuses.

Now “Success” is going to look different to each person and even within various circumstances, but I’m beginning to look at all the different areas of my life with a new perspective to see what I need to change to put success in my way. For the most part, that means taking a step back from my activities and responsibilities to see what I can do to make them go more smoothly.

For instance, one of my difficulties at work is that I have a huge number of interruptions during the day, so no matter what I’m working on, it’s a challenge to have a block of time when I can stay completely focused and not be sidetracked by a knock on the office door.

I work in a nonprofit with a huge number of incredible volunteers. One of my many responsibilities is managing the client database, where we track all of the clients who seek assistance, what requests they have and what help they receive. Many of the interruptions during the day are volunteers asking me to look up a client in the database to help them find a file or to check the status of a request or answer a question about their last visit.

It dawned on me through an exercise for WLOV that if I teach the volunteers how to look clients up in the database themselves, that not only saves interruptions for me, but empowers them to help the clients more efficiently. They are not frustrated if I’m in a meeting or not available to look something up and they don’t have to feel bad about constantly interrupting me.

That’s a fairly small piece of a very complicated puzzle, but I put together a training document, and have started training this week. The reaction? The volunteers are thrilled!

I have not seen such a spike in positive morale like this in a long time, and all from a simple process. Plus, it means that I will be able to work more interruption-free (once I get them trained) and will be more productive and successful in my own work. Success!

I’m really looking hard at all areas of my life to see what other things I can do to put success in my way.

In my email, I’m inundated with postings and comments from several closed Facebook groups I’m a part of. Setting up rules in my Outlook so that those emails automatically go to a special folder helps keep my inbox less cluttered, and then I can see whole conversations all together in that folder when I’m ready. That certainly saves valuable time.

Setting up reminders on my phone helps because I hear that chime when it’s time to do something, and it takes the act of having to remember to do it off my mind and lets me focus on the work at hand.

Breaking down these processes to see what isn’t working is so much more effective than just being frustrated by the whole thing. There is power and encouragement in realizing that just simple adjustments can make a world of difference. There will be some things that cannot be changed, but if I can improve others, then even those won’t seem so bad.

In your own life, what small changes can you make that will put success in your way?