Get More Done: How to Add Another Piece to the Pie Without Losing Your Mind

multi type pie piecesAnd no, I’m not talking about Thanksgiving desserts. (Although we did make a gluten-free pumpkin pie and low-carb grasshopper brownies that were pretty darn divine.)

I’m talking about when you see that you want more of something. And to get it, you’re going to have to do some more things.

My personal example is activism. I have never been politically motivated before much beyond voting. I blithely tossed political mailers in the recycling. Hid when local candidates went door to door. Attended exactly one fundraiser and one rally in my nearly three decades as a voter.

Since the election, although I’m still focused on finding common ground and remembering everyone’s innate humanness, I’m also suddenly activated. There are many policies I hold dear, for myself and for my fellow Americans, that are in need of protection and I know that I personally can’t just ‘wait and see’ what happens. Honestly, it feels like a switch has been flicked on deep inside my being, or like I just took the red pill in The Matrix.

So, in the last three weeks, I’ve attended large community meetings, made calls to legislators, led small neighborhood meetings, gotten the kids involved in an effort to raise funds for non-profits that support the people who are most vulnerable to the new policies that seem headed down the track (a large group of kids made tree ornaments to sell at our neighborhood Holiday Stroll this weekend), taken the time to explain to the kids (who are currently 6 and 8) what the election means to me and why I care about the issues I do, and booked a trip to the Million Women’s March on January 21st (not the 12th like I mis-typed in my last newsletter).

All the while still adjusting to having a new dog who needs walking and a pile-up of editorial deadlines. I’m not saying it’s been glamorous or without its hiccups, but there are some basic guidelines I’m following that are making it doable.

Perhaps you, like me, are feeling called to be more involved in politics, no matter which ‘side’ you’re on. Or maybe it’s something else you’re wanting to do more of—make more money, get more movement, eat more healthfully, meet more people, find more love. And perhaps there’s some part of you that’s saying, “How will I do more than what I’m already doing right now?? There are no more hours in the day!”

Well, here’s how. Or at least, here’s one approach. You may find something else that works better for you, and that’s something important to keep in mind—there is no one right way. This is what’s working for me:

As always, it starts with how you think. Re-calibrate that and all things are possible.

Let the mistakes go. Like that typo I had in my last newsletter. You have all the time you need for the important stuff, but not if you spend some of it fretting about stuff that doesn’t matter. You can do a lot of things, but not if you expect everything to be perfect.

Gather your troops. It really does take a village to do important things. Find people you can talk to openly with, to share your feelings, hear your intentions, and offer support. It makes such a difference. I never would have made it to the community meeting last night if I didn’t get a ride with friends. Also, it means we can divide and conquer—we each pick one or two areas of focus and then keep everyone else apprised, and they do the same.

Establish a baseline. You can’t go to every social gathering if you’re looking for a relationship, networking event if you’re seeking more clients, or political rally if you’re wanting to get more involved. Well, I guess you could try, but you would likely only deplete yourself and you can’t give from an empty cup. Think about how much of any one thing feels like enough—you’re covering your bases without knocking yourself out. For me, two-three meetings a month feels right. It gives me at least a week off but is also frequent enough to build momentum. Any less and I’m off track, anymore and I’m likely to be getting run down or letting another important part of my life slide too much. And if I go more than two days without doing some form of reaching out—to a legislator, company, friend, group, or organization—I know it’s time to get back on track.

Be determined about your downtime. It’s an absolutely true paradox that the busier you are, the more you need rejuvenation. Even though you feel like you don’t have the time! Don’t talk yourself out of stretching before bed, meditating, walking, spending time outside, or whatever it is that makes you feel more like yourself. That’s just a trick of your ego to get you so tired and confused that you’ll quit. You have the time for the important things, and your health and sanity are important.

Keep doing the things you always do. Chores and routines are grounding. This may not be the time to keep your house in tip-top shape, but keep doing the dishes. You might wear your clothes a couple times before you wash them, but you’ll still need undies—keep doing the laundry. You may not make three-course meals but you can still spend an hour making a pot of soup that you eat all week long. These menial tasks are great opportunities to rest your brain and move your body while doing something gratifying. I can’t verify this, but a history buff friend of mine once told me that Coretta still asked Martin Luther King, Jr. to help with the dishes in the midst of the civil rights movement. Einstein said he did his best thinking while shaving. If you can embrace your chores, you’ll find insights waiting for you as you do them.

Got strategies of your own? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below or on the Ms.Mindbody Facebook page.

Whatever you’re up to, you can handle it!

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