On Friday I facilitated a workshop on time management and organization. From the start I informed my participants that while there are many different tools and strategies that are deemed as best practices, it was most important to create a system that works best for them.
What if the answer to our most pressing challenges lies in modifying the way we do things to meet our unique needs, instead of trying to squeeze and distort who we truly are to fit into pre-determined molds?
Here are a few strategies to support you as you produce your process that meets your distinctive objectives for learning, growth, planning, and living your best personal and professional life.
Routines Reimagined. We read and hear so much about the importance of morning and evening routines. While I agree that they both have many benefits, what if a midday or midnight routine is better for you based on the variables in your life? Many people have responsibilities that include the care of others in the mornings and evenings. This means that to incorporate a self-care routine at these times, something important, most often sleep, must be sacrificed. Therefore, your window for an ideal routine time may look different. It may be that solid hour or two when everyone else is at work, at school, or asleep. It might be that sacred 30-minutes of alone time in your closet or car. Whatever it is, don’t feel like you must do what someone, who doesn’t have the same circumstances as you, says is the best or right thing to do.
How will you rework your routines to fit your unique circumstances?
Set Your Systems. When I facilitated the workshop on time management and organization, I gave my participants the opportunity to experience and explore several different nontraditional strategies. I told them to select what felt like a fit, try it out, and if it didn’t work, drop it, and try something else until they found the thing that worked for them. For instance, for years people have recommended that I use spreadsheets. Each time I tried and failed to stay committed to these systems. Then I started recreating what might have been entered on a spreadsheet on a blank page in my planner or a large sheet of flip chart paper in an artistic way. This method was a wonderful fit for me and it has worked for years.
It made sense since I am a learner who needs to see (visual) and touch (kinesthetic) materials in an intimate way that is not captured when I type. Using colors and playing around with different styles of handwriting also tapped into my deep connection to my personal core value of creativity.
Advancements in technology have made things much more efficient and effective, but there’s still value in tapping into what truly works for you to set up systems that best support you and your learning style.
What systems will you set to support your learning style and personality?
Reworking Networking. I tend to hear negative reactions when the topic of networking comes up. These responses from my clients are often followed by a resigned acceptance that it must be done to advance their careers or businesses. When I dig more deeply, I realize that people are stuck in a belief that says networking can only be going to events and talking to people. Who says that’s the only way to network? Since I also dread this form of interaction, I look to more organic and authentic ways to connect and find synergy with people I may want to form personal or professional relationships with. To accomplish this, I created an activity for my clients that I also use for my own growth and development.
In this activity we write down the names of up to five people we’d like to connect with. These may be people in the same or a similar industry. They could also be people who exude energy that we are drawn to or who create content that we enjoy. Once the list is complete, we think through who we will reach out to first, and by what mode of communication (text, email, phone, social media, etc.). We then explore how we will propose to further the connection. This could be anything from inviting and treating them to coffee or asking how you can support them. As an introvert and an empath who doesn’t feel comfortable initiating conversations with strangers or engaging in small talk, this intentional and structured approach to networking has birthed some beautiful personal relationships and business partnerships in my life.
How will you rework your networking to make it something you look forward to?
This week I challenge you to assess the way you’ve been doing things. Which parts and practices in your day-to-day engagements and activities feel forced or inauthentic? Consider your unique circumstances, as well as your learning and communication styles, and make the necessary adjustments to produce a process that works best for you.
I am reimagining my routines and designing ones that work best for me.
I am setting up systems that serve and support the life I want to live.
I am reworking networking to meet my unique needs for connection and authentic engagement.