Stress and indecision

Bobb Biehl says that 85% of stress is caused by either indecision or lack of control.

What three things are causing you the most stress right now? Of those three, which are stressful because of indecision? Lack of control?

If it’s indecision, the way forward is to act. Decide and move or collect the additional information you need to make the decision.

If it’s an area of life that’s out of control, brainstorm how you can get that area back under control (or even a small section of it), and take a step forward today.*


*Some things we stress about we have no control over even if we wanted it. Letting go of anxiety about things we cannot control is a topic for another post.

Your time is limited. Clear space for what matters. [quote]

“As a creator, you don’t have time to waste. Time is your greatest commodity, and spending it on experiences you think you should have instead of experiences that feed your soul is a waste of time. Cutting the experiential clutter out of your life will free room for you to do great work.

“Of course there is clutter in your life that is there by necessity. But we’re not talking about that. We are talking about those Christmas parties you went to that you didn’t enjoy, and always saying yes to coffee, and that vacation in which you thought you HAD to go to disneyland. Put an end to it.”

Donald Miller

Stop it! Rework it! Reclaim time and sanity by cutting things that don’t matter.

Sometimes we get it all wrong. In order to achieve a better life we feel like we have to have more, do more and accomplish more. Sometimes more helps, but most of the time “better” is about doing the right things, not more things.

Sometimes when we’re feeling behind and overwhelmed we need to SIMPLIFY, not work harder to catch up.

Look at what you’re doing – is it worth it? Is the time you’re spending on that thing (whatever it is) worth what you’re getting from it? Does it align with your values? Does it make sense?

At home – are you happy with the amount of time you have to spend cleaning and organizing your stuff? Or would it be better to get rid of some of the excess and have more time for life? *

Is the time you spend catching up after a day of busy activities worth it? What would it look like to do fewer things, invest in them, and have a little margin in your life at the end of the day?

Even simpler – When you’re doing dishes, is the stuff you use most often the most accessible? Or are you wasting minutes every day with an inefficient setup?

Or at your job – is the paperwork you do (or require others to do) helpful? Or is it taking up more time than it’s worth?

How do you track your budget? Could you do a better job with more tracking? Less tracking? A simpler method?

Most people slow down a little over the summer. Why not use that time to examine your values and the default systems and habits you live by? Do they support those values?

Sometimes we create busyness for ourselves because it feels good. It feels like we’re productive. It’s easier to be busy than to make the tough decisions and do the things we really value.

Take some time to write out the things you really care about – the areas of life that you value. And list a few goals or dreams for each of those areas. It could be family, relationships, health, your job, and your broader mission or platform. Your list will look different. Where are you right now? Where do you want to be?

It’s worth centering our actions around deeply held values, not reactionary impulses.

Maybe it means doing less stuff so we can do the right things. Or maybe being ok with the dishes staying dirty a little while longer so we can connect with a friend. Or maybe it’s getting the junk out of the sink so you can cook a real meal and sit down for quality time with your family.

It looks different for each person. But we all feel it inside. We know where those areas of change are for us. Where are yours?

*Yes – this may be a little autobiographical.

First things first. One thing at a time. Start now.

With the holidays just around the corner, my to do list (and, probably yours!) just keeps growing. It’s easy to get stressed and overwhelmed. But that mental energy spent worrying about what needs to get done doesn’t really get anything done.

So instead, I’m trying to live out the advice above.

First things first – What’s most important right now?

One thing at a timeWe can’t multitask. It doesn’t work. Do one thing.

Start now – No more excuses! Take action!

And once the one thing is done, we start on the next one. It’s amazing how great that momentum feels.

When we focus on one thing at a time and simply move forward, it not only helps us get things done, but it allows us to be present where we are – whether it’s working on a project or having a conversation over coffee. We can focus on this thing, then this thing, and then this thing. And once those things are completed, they’re gone. No more mental energy spent juggling the things we should be doing while we’re doing something else. Every task, and person, gets our full attention.

What’s next vs. what’s now


At this time of the year we are already talking about next year’s RAs and potential changes in the RD staff. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about what’s next.

I’m guilty of it. I like thinking about the future and doing a little stratgizing. It’s what I do.

But when we do that, we easily forget the entire semester that remains. 110% of the time that has just passed still remains. There’s a lot that can happen. There’s so much space for life-changing events and conversations.

It’s exciting and important to think about what’s next. But it’s also important to think about what’s now – to seize and live out the opportunities that are right here in front of us.

Don’t miss the now moment because you’re fixated on what could be next.

The more time you have …

Love this quote from 37signals:

But you don’t have to work superhuman hours. A normal workweek should be plenty. Even less is ok. In fact, being short on time is a good thing. It forces you to focus on the essentials. There’s no time for things that don’t matter. There’s only time for the basics. And if you want to build something great, you have to nail the basics first.

More time isn’t always better. In a job that’s flexible, I have to constantly remind myself to get stuff done and move on. Not so I can waste time later or skip out early, but so I can focus on what matters.

Want to find out what’s really important? Stop working for two weeks.

Mark Batterson says a Change of Place + Change of Pace = Change of Perspective.

I start back to work tomorrow after two weeks off to help take care of our brand new baby. One thing that was interesting about handing off all my “residence director” work three days into the semester  and coming back three weeks into everything was the perspective it provided.

As an RD, I do a lot of things. Most weeks, there’s much more than 40 hours of work to be done. But when it came down to it, only a few key things were the “absolutely must be handed off or this thing won’t work” tasks and responsibilities.

That’s not to say the rest of the stuff isn’t important. This is a relational job, and some of those relationships can be put off. That doesn’t really mean they aren’t critical. But it’s been helpful as I start back to think about those key pieces that had to be done and build everything else around them. (It also helps to see what disappeared without anyone missing it. Maybe those things will just stay on vacation.)

So unless you want to deal with sleepless nights and a crying baby, two weeks off for newborn care might not be your best option. But maybe it’s worth stepping back and thinking about what would really need to be done if you were gone for a while. Then work to maximize those pieces.