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Tips for Wellbeing

Are you feeling Weepy? Tips For Your Wellbeing

Are you in need of a boost for your wellbeing? It might be reassuring for you to know that this is the season for feeling grief and sadness. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the season of Autumn relates to the organ of the lungs which emotionally hold grief. Although separate organs, the heart and lungs are interrelated by the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. This means that any ‘affair of the heart’ such as loss, upset or conflict can be the trigger for grief. The heart affects the lungs, and the lungs affect the heart.

So, what can we do to boost our wellbeing at this time? Move!

Here are three ways to improve our wellbeing. We need to move stagnant energy (Prana, Qi or Ki) out of our lungs.

  1. Try some shoulders shrugs individually and both together.  Shrugging acts as a pump to move stale energy and encourage better circulation try it now, where-ever you are, can you feel the lungs moving?
  2. Stand up and relax your whole body and shake your arms, bend your knees, and straighten your legs, repeatedly, shaking off any negative energy through your hands and fingers, like a tree losing its leaves in the autumn.
  3. Take your arms out to the sides float your palms up toward each other and back down again and repeat. This simple movement opens the sides of the lungs brings a bit of energy to your intercostal muscles (that sit between your ribs) and lift both heart and lungs. You’ll feel instantly brighter and more energised.

And Finally…

As Autumn is a season of ‘dryness’, you may have noticed your skin feeling dry and crepey (not creepy!) at this time. To remedy this, set some time aside for self-care. Get some sesame oil (it’s naturally the warmest oil) and heat it. I place mine into a plastic bottle and then put it into a stainless-steel cup of hot water. When it’s warmed, begin to gently massage your body, including the nostrils, ears fingers and toes, including your nails. Allow half an hour for it to soak in before having a bath or shower. NB if you oil your hair, which feels amazing, you will need to put neat shampoo on your hair before the water or it will be difficult to get the oil out. Not only will you feel nurtured and comforted, you  will also sleep well, so best done at night. Repeat once or twice a week.

Autumn is a good time to boost your immune system in preparation for winter so remember, that there are lots of resources and programmes available in the stresshacker shop to make life more manageable for you. 

Try out Healing Now Hypnosis Program if you’re starting to feel under the weather and take advantage of the Freebies!

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10 Steps To Stay Stress Free After Lockdown

Going back to work after lockdown will have it’s challenges for sure. Because there’s a tendency in life to cling to the familiar, to feel safe and secure, change can feel threatening. Are there steps we can take  to feel more in control and stress free after lockdown?

Read on for some suggestions on how to make your re-integration as stress free and smooth as possible.

Indeed let’s also remember, that whilst the more extrovert among us may be excited at the prospect of returning to work and re-engaging with an audience, other’s may well
dread the return to work for that very reason! Just the act of interacting with gregarious

Outgoing Personality
Stress-free and ready to go!

colleagues can be draining, anxiety provoking and far from stress-free for those with more introvert tendencies.

Rather than worrying about what might happen,  aim instead, to discover how to ring fence yourself and reduce the risk to your mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Write a personal risk assessment and find stress-free solutions for your particular situation. Have a look at some of my suggestions below

You may wonder, can there be certainty in such uncertain times?

Perhaps a level of acceptance is a better state to aim for than a sense of certainty because we are in a state of flux and futures are uncertain for many of us.

Yet the fact remains, we want to feel in control and there is so much in life that we have no control over,  the sooner we accept this, become flexible and adapt, the less stressful life will be.

Taking Charge of life
Stress-free and back in control

How can we handle the stress of not having control? In this link I explain the Circle of Influence and Circle of Control a tool that facilitates the discovery of personal ways to feel empowered and stress-free.

In fact, something as simple as learning a gentle breathing technique can quell a rising panic allowing you to regain self-control in the middle of a meeting or on the train going to work.

 

Before returning to work make a list of some of the things you are in control of.

Below are some tips about how to stay stress free after lockdown.

1. Consistent Clear Communication

This might be expressing to your line manager/supervisor/boss that you’re struggling with an aspect of the return to work. If you find it difficult to verbalise, write a private and confidential email outlining your concerns.

Likewise where possible, suggest one or two solutions to the problem you’ve identified, such as split working from home/office. Changing hours or asking for clarity on the troubling issue.

This way you take both the problem and the solution to your boss, who may also be struggling with issues.

2. Listen to yourself first

Your body will give you very clear signals of discomfort and distress if you tune-in and listen.

Try this, a minimum of 5 minutes quiet time each day can be enough to pick up on a tightened chest, or a churning stomach. If your body is light and buoyant all is well. Feelings of heaviness, constriction are not good signs, what do you think that’s telling you?

Pay attention to these feelings and aim to explore and address the issue causing these problems, talk them through with a trusted friend, colleague or engage a therapist or coach.

We know that there is a global collective grieving at this time but what we don’t know is who is grieving, or what or whom has been lost. It could be a loved one, a job or an income. Never has there been more of a need for kindness, compassion and understanding.

 

3. Listen and be prepared for emotion

Besides listening,  know that we can’t fix other people’s stuff so don’t even try! What you can do is offer people time and space to listen, really listen and it’s one of the kindest gifts we can give another. Even identical twins suffering the same loss will experience their bereavement differently, so we should never presume to know what someone is feeling or when.

It’s much easier to ask them, “How are you?” and then listen, you may pick up the signal immediately that they do not want to talk about it or maybe if you stay quiet for just that tiny bit longer, they will share something with you.

Again, prepare yourself to be uncomfortably comfortable in the face of emotion. People who you least expect to be emotional may break down and cry in your presence. Be with them, hold the space for them and resist the temptation to hand them tissues, put an arm around them or placate them with platitudes.

Consequently they  are more likely to benefit and recover quickly if you don’t react in this way. That’s empathy and compassion and can help them enormously.

4. Find Your Balance

Aim for balance and work out how you can achieve that? What do you need to do to re-energise? Do you need to stop and give yourself a short break to move around for example? Are you the type of person who needs to eat a little and often to keep your energy high? Are you sipping any water regularly? Is your head feeling hot? Perhaps you need to take the EarPods out of your ears to give them a rest.

Make a list of resources you need to keep with you to help you to feel balanced and in control.

5. Ask yourself good quality questions

“What do I want. What do I need to feel more balanced now?” Listen to your response, that’s your prescription, your wisdom so why not take your own advice!

6. Work Smarter

Because many people will be returning to a backlog of work and since multi-tasking has been debunked,  avoid that! Instead aim to spend longer at the outset and create a clear plan of action.

Besides prioritising tasks with a simple A,B,C,D method  which will quickly provide order, you’ll also have a more realistic view of your workload.  This will give you greater sense of control. You will also be in a better position to manage your expectations and communicate your position to colleagues or staff.

7. Set Realistic Goals

In addition to creating  a schedule of work, aim to set small pragmatic goals. In your planning phase work out roughly how long each task will take, block that time out in your diary/calendar with the time span. This keeps goals realistic,  also schedule in short breaks, to stand up and stretch, have a comfort break or a drink.

As a result of  utilising steps 6 and 7 you offer yourself an opportunity to validate your efforts and recognise your achievements. In this way you’re not waiting around for someone else to pat you on the back. Say ‘Well done”  and reward your good behaviour with a treat. A luxurious bath, a walk with a friend or carving out some time to read a book.

8. It’s OK to say No

Furthermore practice saying a good, clear No try saying it  out loud now! You can be pleasant but firm when you say No. “No, I already have more than I can realistically handle” No I simply do not have the available time. No, it’s not my responsibility, I cannot take that on” Get used to that word in your mouth and throat.

In fact I often have clients’ practice saying No in front of a mirror in as many different tones and volumes as possible. Add to this good body language, such as a firm hand extended away from your chest with a big “No” should you need to communicate your position more clearly, will speak volumes.

9. Connect At Your Own Pace

You’re either itching to get back out with friends and family or feel the need to connect slowly.

First it’s your business is to know what you want and need. Secondly negotiate with yourself to establish what feels right and manageable for you. Thirdly practice out loud explaining to your friends and family how you need to proceed and see how you can arrive at a workable compromise between their expectations and yours.

10. Recognition And Validation

Finally, Be Your Own Cheerleader. Just be kind and loving to yourself. You will get the best from yourself by being supportive and gently encouraging. Watch out for the inner critic, sack your ‘Judge’ and pump up the volume on your balanced assertive adult self!

There is no ‘right’ way to do this only the way that is right for you, so aim to honour and respect your needs and keep your communication honest clear and consistent.

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50 Ways To Deal With Depression

ways to beat depression

Depression is a monster that can eventually be tamed according to some, whilst for others professional help and medication is necessary.

This is my third blog on depression and I’ll be changing my theme for the next blog, so if there’s anything mind/body related you would like to know more about, let me know and I’ll endeavour to create an interesting blog on it.

I’ve compiled a list of resources and activities that people I have worked with over the years claim have helped lift the state of inertia and depression. Work your way through the list and find the things that resonate most with you and keep using these tactics to chip away and find your beautiful nature within. I can elaborate pretty much on all of the points so if there’s a particular one you’re interested in understanding more about contact me and I’ll write a more in-depth blog.

  1. Join a choir.
  2. Place an advert on gumtree or in a local shop window and start a band… even if you do have to call it the ‘Can’t Sing or Play Band.
  3. Join a drumming circle.
  4. Book some drum lessons.
  5. Take up some kind of percussion such as cymbals, tambourine, bells, gongs or make your own with a jar of beans or tins.
  6. Beat an old tennis racquet on some cushions.
  7. Start with aaah. Progress to oooo and finish with mmmm. If you can’t chant out loud do it silently in your head.
  8. Lay on your back with knees bent and have bare feet. Draw your navel back toward your spine and begin to stamp your feet up and down side to side.
  9. Add your hands by making fists and gently bang the floor.
  10. Lie on your front and draw your navel back toward your spine. Lift your face from the ground and softly turn your head from side to side, whilst banging your fists gently on the ground. Bend your legs as if you could tap your buttocks alternately with your heels. Much like a baby having a temper tantrum. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU HAVE KNEE PROBLEMS!
  11. Take up Yoga
  12. Join a Pilates class
  13. Go to the coast when it’s cold, wet and empty, walk on the beach and scream as loud as you can.
  14. If you can get to a sandy beach, get a stick and draw a picture in the sand of the person who has hurt you the most and pelt the drawing with stones until the sea comes in and washes them away.
  15. Take up Drawing
  16. Take up Painting.
  17. Draw or paint your depression
  18. Paint or draw the depression with your non-dominant hand, even if it’s just a scribble.
  19. Walk… preferably with someone. If no one is around to walk with you, still decide to walk each day. Set small achievable goals to start with such as just walking to the end of the road, or the local shop and back. Swing your arms when you walk.ways to deal with depression sue smith the stresshacker
  20. Write therapy letters, these are letters addressed to the person/people you have issues with. Know that you will never send the letter so let ‘em have it! Don’t hold back, really speak your truth.
  21. Write a letter to yourself from the future. Imagine a time in the future envisage being free from depression and what advice would that older you give you now?
  22. Write a letter from now to a younger you who needed help and support, tell that younger you all the things you would like to have heard. Offer that you love, wisdom and protection.
  23. Write a letter from a stronger part of you to the ‘depressed’ part of you acknowledging that part’s pain and discomfort, reassure that part that it is loved and cared for. Ask that part what you can do for it to make things easier. Listen carefully and pay attention to the answers.ways to deal with depression sue smith the stresshacker
  24. Write a short stories killing off your bullies torturers or demons make sure you finish the story. THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT
  25. Whatever you feel like, make a long list of the opposites for example

“ I feel like using drugs” becomes “I feel like I want to stay clean

“I feel like giving up” becomes “I feel resilient and determined to fight on”

“ I can’t be bothered” becomes “I am now motivated and energized”

Have some fun and feel empowered by challenging your thoughts and feelings.

  1. Read your positive ‘opposites’ out loud in a strong loud voice with emphasis on the ‘I’
  2. Stamp your feet to a loud musical beat.
  3. Wave your arms up in the air from side to side until you feel physically exhausted.
  4. Close your eyes and imagine you feeling well and happy use every inch of your will power to envisage a confident strong you. Make the picture brighter, stronger, clearer, louder and closer until you start to feel excitement stirring somewhere within.
  5. Be creative and make something. Again, go to Youtube and put in simple arts and crafts and see what comes up that inspires you.
  6. Look up on Google or YouTube how to make paper mache. Now make your depression, no rules, just see what you come up with. You can decide later if you’ve created something rather beautiful from it to be admired and kept or whether it’s something you want destroy or dispose of.
  7. Do some gardening. If you don’t have a garden tend to one small plant, give it everything to nurture it and help it to grow.
  8. Make a list of healthy foods that if you had someone to cook for you, you would like to eat.
  9. Cook something simple and nourishing from your list.
  10. Get your shoes and socks off and get your feet in touch with grass, concrete, the bark of a tree, sand, or earth. Scrunch your feet until they feel really earthed and connected.
  11. Have a zingy cold showers try a mint or ginger shower gel.
  12. Develop a routine, for example aim for 8 hours sleep… there may be a tendency to sleep longer but don’t. Plan to get up and get moving.
  13. Make a pot of tea with the zest of an orange and 3 or 4 basil leaves; it’s always soothing for a sad heart.
  14. Put on a face pack (not just women) and take up the pose as if you’re about to do the Maori Haka Dance… then do the Maori Haka Dance (go to YouTube) to see it. Take a selfie so that you can laugh at yourself sometime later!
  15. If you have a car have a short drive around more deserted side streets and scream at the top of your lungs. Try AAAAHHH really loudly.
  16. Get an old roll of wallpaper. Spread it out and draw a picture of the person you have most issues with. Graffiti it! Write what you’d really like to say to that person all over it.
  17. Always aim to get some early morning sunlight. Even if the sun isn’t bright spend 10 minutes without sunglasses allowing light into your world.
  18. Don’t be on your own. If you can afford a therapist or counselor get one if not go to your GP and ask for a referral to a local organization that can offer you support.
  19. When you feel ready blow up as many balloons as you can. When you’ve finished, have a frenzied balloon bursting session ideally with your fingers.
  20. Ask everyone you know for a list of their funniest YouTube clips, films and books make a commitment to watch/read them over the next year.
  21. Drink lots of water.
  22. Get a set of beads, preferably mala beads ~(there are 108). Every day touch each bead whilst voicing a positive suggestion out loud. Such as “I am NOW healthy and well” “ I am NOW strong and bright” “I am NOW vibrant and happy”. Because the subconscious mind believes whatever it is told and simply stores that information and because the subconscious mind has no concept of past or future, it believes these suggestions when housed in the now! Do this for a week on a daily basis and let us know here at thestresshacker how you feel.
  23. De-clutter your spaces. Look at your belongings in an order as Marie Condo suggests in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Get all your shoes together and decide which you no longer love or need and put them in a bin bag. Next go through your books and do the same. Then your crockery, your jumpers … get on a roll this becomes such a satisfying project. Pass it on. Take your ‘stuff’ to the local charity shop. Even if you think they’re rags, they can use them and remember to gift aid.
  24. Listen to uplifting songs and sing along.
  25. Finally here are some of the books that others have found useful in recovery The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, The Road Less Travelled by Dr M. Scott Peck. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway by Dr Susan Jeffers.

Please let me know how any of these activities help you. Comment below.

Also please look at our products and courses in The Stresshacker store to help assist you with your journey.

 

 

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HAPPY MIND & BODY

Movement Now Hypnosis Program

HAPPY MIND & BODY by The Stresshacker Sue SmithMove Your Body

I sometimes feel that I sit down for too long… but that’s the nature of my work as a Psychotherapist and Life Coach, thankfully I’m able to balance some of that by teaching yoga, walking and swimming. A sedentary lifestyle is not good if you want to stay healthy moreover, it’s ageing too. Scientifically proven as one of the 5 components that make up Wellbeing, exercise and keeping on the move is a must if we want to stay healthier, happier and youthful.

I’m often heard singing the praises of yoga. It really is more than just exercise, it’s a system of health. Other Eastern philosophies such as Chinese Medicine, subscribe to the notion that we have an emotional body. According to these approaches the emotions reside in the organs. You can hear it in language such as “I felt gutted (stomach) or choked” (throat) or “… he had some gall” referring to the gallbladder that is said to process anger, along with it’s partner the liver.

I definitely recognise the existence of an emotional body in my own style of teaching yoga and also when working one-to-one coaching clients. As a client or student of mine you’ll be on the receiving end of my ‘nagging’ or as I like to think of it, encouragement! Prompting you to direct your attention to the tightest or most uncomfortable part of your body and then breathe deeply into it whilst stretching. It facilitates a beautiful release and expansion that often alleviates pain and discomfort. You just feel great afterwards!

I’m often reminded of my favourite saying that the body will express what the mind is concerned with It’s true and I’ve been interested to observe my own body in the last 3 to 4 weeks whilst going through a particularly stressful and emotional time. Although I’m doing the same amount of yoga practice as usual, I’ve really noticed how tight and stiff my muscles and ligaments have become, in fact my body has been aching and tense. I realise that at times like this it’s more important than ever to keep up my yoga practice (it would be so easy to let it slip)! I have found the gentle long held yin poses have been particularly useful in releasing toxic energy (a build up of negative emotions such as fear and anger). HAPPY MIND & BODY by The Stresshacker Sue Smith

Some years ago my colleague and friend Sabine Smith and I created a lovely CD also available as a download called Movement Now. This is a gentle yoga program that we designed for people who haven’t done any exercise at all for a while, people who want a quick easy stretch program, people who are stuck at their desks all day long and people recovering from illness or surgery. It’s really easy to download to your laptop then pop onto your phone then you can practice anywhere anytime. Click here to buy.

The short program is a real energy boost and you’ll also notice that it creates a nice peaceful state mentally and emotionally.

So if you’re going through one of life’s testing times remember to keep up your practice. If you don’t do yoga then walk, swim or do some exercise and keep the demons at bay!

Also please look at our products and courses in The Stresshacker store to help assist you with your journey.

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Three Hour Exams! Tips for revising for exams.

Yes it’s that time of year again! Tips For Revising For Exams

tips revising exams - Tips for revising for exams - The Stresshacker blog by Sue Smith

Many teenagers are revising at the moment and we all know how stressful that can be, so this week’s blog contains top tips for revising and staying cool, calm and confident through the revision period and beyond.

Create a timetable of study

Set short achievable tasks for your revision. It’s important to ‘chunk’ down. After all you can’t revise the whole thing in one go! So break things down into small chunks.

For example, you could revise in 20-minute chunks, set your phone (or alarm) when it goes off, change your activity for at least 5 minutes. Get up and stretch. Go and get a drink.  Play with the dog! Then go back to revising. Naturally if you’re on a roll and studying well, you can skip a break and continue on for the next 20-minute chunk.

Look at the week and decide where, when and how you are going to revise. If you’re unsure, find someone who seems to revise well. Pick their brains and find out what they do to revise, where they do it and how, then copy that formula!

On The Day of Your Exams

Plan a good routine for the day.  It might sound daft but it’s important know exactly where you’re going, it has been known for people go to the wrong place, out of sheer panic!  Not you though. If you have to travel to your place of exam, do a dummy run a week before if necessary. Give yourself as much chance as possible to feel confident.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

Even planning exactly what you’re going to wear so that you’re in charge of your own temperature will give you a sense of control (Layers are good).

Aim to be early and be prepared. Have your bag and any items that you might need, ready, well ahead of the exam day.

Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

tips revising exams - Tips for revising for exams - The Stresshacker blog by Sue Smith

Drink plenty of water during study periods and the exam; this has been linked to improved memory power. According to a study at the University of Wales (D.Benton, N Burgess – Appetite, 2009 – Elsevier.) ‘Recall was significantly better on the occasions when water had been consumed’.

Breathe deep then eat

Many students say they feel panicky prior to exams and suffer from anxiety. Many performers feel nervous before they perform and there’s at least one scientific study that says that nerves can help you to perform well, so maybe your anxious feelings are a good thing and they are going to help you to perform well!

Anxiety can sometimes make your tummy tense and your chest tight though and that’s not great.  So try this, sit upright and rest one hand on your heart and one hand on your tummy. I call this the ‘Vagus Hug’ as it puts you in touch with a powerful nerve that runs from the brain through the heart to the gut and it is a powerful communication channel.  Close your eyes and breathe in and count to 3 hold for a couple of seconds and as you breathe out to the count of 5 imagine your hands becoming warm and soothing to your tummy. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the tension melts. Don’t take my word for it, practice it and see for yourself.

Once you feel more relaxed ensure that you eat something prior to the exam. If you feel uptight make sure it’s something easily digestible. Protein is always good and can be easily digestible if it’s something light like an omelette or scrambled eggs. Plan what you will eat on the day – have everything ready.

Are your thoughts serving or sabotaging you?

Watch out for your thoughts they can either be helpful and positive or negative and damaging. Do NOT project negative thoughts into the future… that’s just daft since the future hasn’t happened yet!

You have a choice. What are you saying to yourself about your ability to study? What are you saying to yourself about the exam itself? Modern psychology and hypnotherapy knows that it is possible to ‘future pace’ suggestions.

An example of a good future paced suggestion is “I now revise easily, effortlessly and concentrate with focused attention whenever I revise.”  Or “On the day of the exam I feel confident and relaxed. My recall is sharp and accurate I breeze confidently through each question.” Notice the suggestion is phrased in the ‘here and now’ which is important, since the subconscious mind doesn’t have a sense of past or future, so it prefers suggestions as if they’re already happening.

Obviously if you haven’t done the study or the revision in the first place, this can’t come true but if you’ve done the work – then trust your subconscious mind to serve you. You could be amazed by the results.

Finally, listening to Stress Free With Confidence every night will definitely help you to remain calm and to feel more confident. I suggest listening for a month leading up to the exam and also through your revision period.  Listen on ear-phones each night as you drift off to sleep and let it work for you.

Good luck with your exams and remember you are still a wonderful unique person whatever your results.

Sue x

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Can’t Get Your Work Done? Here’s How To Hit Those Deadlines

Can't Get Your Work Done? Here's How To Hit Those Deadlines - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith

Are you having trouble hitting deadlines? Do you procrastinate when you should be getting things done? Chances are, no amount of time management tricks will fix this until you deal with the deeper issues holding you back.

This guide will take you through all the emotional reasons why you might be sabotaging your own time-keeping, and includes some practical tips on what to do to get you back into time-management heaven.

Take the following steps and surprise yourself at how quickly you can do it.

Five Simple Steps For Fixing Your Time Management Issues.

Step One: Send Your Inner Child to Bed

Send your Inner Child to Bed - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith
(c) Esperales

First off, it’s important to recognise that you’re making a choice. You can either get this done now in the quickest most efficient way or you can time waste, procrastinate, whine (inwardly or outwardly!) or make a million different excuses.

The reality is nobody cares.

Grow up and get on with it. A bit of mental discipline never hurt anyone.

Bit harsh? Thing is we have an internalised child part. For many of us the child part doesn’t want to work, the child might be fearful of ‘getting it wrong’ so wants to avoid, play or hide. Some people find it stressful even thinking about deadlines and so prefer just to do nothing rather than deal with the worry. If you let that child part of you dictate your behaviour you’ll never hit your deadline.

You are a grown-up! It’s time to remind yourself out loud how old you are. Say to yourself, “C’mon Julie, you are a 36-year-old account director” (obviously, fill in your own name, age and occupation instead!)

Tell that part of you that wants to procrastinate, that it isn’t helpful, that you don’t want it or need it. Tell it to go away and find a different game to play and remind yourself instead of how great you’re going to feel when the task is completed.

This is the most simple step, but by far the most important one. If you do NOTHING else, take this moment to send your child off to play and make it clear to yourself that your adult is in charge. Oh, and you can tell your inner parent to stop beating you up too – that’s not going to help you get things done.

[Related: How to stop Letting Your Inner Child Rule Your Life]

HEALING YOUR INNER CHILD - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith

Pick some carrots

If you’re driven by the carrot it might be good to tell your child part that when the deadline is achieved you can lie in a bath, watch that film, go shopping – or whatever the ‘reward’ is. If you’re a stick person, you’ll need to come up with something that will make it painful if you don’t succeed. Check out the article below which has tips for how you can visualise things to motivate yourself.

[Related: What Motivates You? Carrot or Stick? Do This Simple Exercise to Find Out.]

Step Two: Plan Like an Adult

Take a moment and – with your adult head on – make a plan. I would hate to remind you of that old adage that if you fail to plan you plan to fail, but it is true.

First write a list of the steps involved. Do this by hand, that way you get the feel-good factor of ticking off the completed segments and the sense that you’re nearing the deadline. It will also make you feel adult and efficient.

Give yourself specific instructions, not vague to-dos. For example, if you write “start research by ringing X and ask the following questions” you’re more likely to feel inspired and get the job done than if you write something that feels too vague or over-whelming like “research book”.

Next, think about the deadline. Can you break it down into three parts or four parts? Chunking down into more manageable pieces makes  it much easier to approach.

Another way is to write out everything you have to do to hit your deadline and then 1,2,3, 4, it. The highest priorities are ones, the next are twos and so on. Stick to the plan, get on and do the ones first.

Plan your space

As part of your planning,  get everything you need in one place. You don’t need any distractions. If you have to keep getting up and down to get things, you run the risk that the child part might interfere and then you’ll wander off down the procrastination road again.

Less is more. Once you have everything put it into neat piles, on another desk or on the floor. Only have on your desk/table the things you need to complete the first stage of the assignment. Clear the clutter away, it’s distracting and you need every bit of help to stay focused. Don’t use that as an excuse to spend the next three hours re-organising your office, however. Limit your clean up time to 15 minutes. If you need a glass of water or a cup of tea get it now.

Plan your breaks

Do you know yourself? If you know that you will work better with a couple of breaks, schedule the breaks in on your list above. Other than a toilet break, stick to those breaks on your list and time them. I suggest 10 minutes is long enough to make a drink, look out of the window etc. Then it’s back to work. AVOID LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE! This is likely to be the biggest temptation and the strongest hook. Be disciplined, wait until you’ve hit your deadline.

Step Three: Make Your Workspace a Happy Place

Make your Workspace Bright - The Stresshacker - Sue Smith
(c) JD Hancock

If you’re feeling lethargic place some lemon oil somewhere in the room. Apparently, the Japanese pipe this smell through the air- conditioning in their offices as it is believed to stimulate mental clarity. A recent study also suggests it enhances your mood.

Put something brightly coloured near your work station. This might just keep the creativity flowing.  I tried using a multi-coloured feather duster. I was amazed – it worked (and, let’s be honest, I would never use it to dust)! According to a study by the University of British Colombia, red in your workspace improves your attention to detail, while blue makes you more creative. (Further reading: Color in Office Environments [pdf]).

Be nice

If you’re still feeling uninspired and uncreative step back and observe your thoughts for a moment. Are they helpful and supportive or negative and sabotaging? The most important things we ever hear are the things we say to ourselves. If you’re feeding yourself messages like, “I should never have taken this on, I can’t do it, It’s too difficult” what kind of a reaction would you expect?  It’s far better to say to yourself  “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this”.

Did you know that your unconscious mind has a massive storage capacity? Many believe it contains a record of every bit of information you have ever picked up from the moment of your birth. It’s where a hidden cache of information, memories, skills and talents reside. Use it. Ask your unconscious mind good quality questions in order to get good quality responses. So instead of , “I wish I’d never taken on this assignment, I’ll never do it in time,” say to yourself, “how can I get this assignment finished in record time?” You will be amazed and impressed with the solutions that begin to filter through.

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.

The interesting thing is that whatever we believe becomes our reality. I’m going to say that again because it is so important.

Whatever we believe becomes our reality.

Successful people don’t wonder whether they will meet their deadlines, they know they will. Do you know why? Because they don’t entertain the idea of failure, it doesn’t enter their world. Successful people believe they will succeed.

To meet your deadline have the absolute total conviction that you can and will do it. When you have strong positive beliefs they strengthen your determination which then fosters your will power.  Your will power supports a good sense of self and so your confidence grows.  It’s an analeptic circle: in time you develop strong faith and a pride in yourself because you know you can achieve what you set out to achieve.

Step Four: Be Disciplined

Work steadily and allow yourself to get in the flow. You’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel as you begin to reach your deadlines more quickly.

Modern psychology, NLP, attributes the smooth running of successful businesses to the placement of good systems. Once you have a good system in place it runs on its own with very little need for maintenance. Getting up, going to the toilet, having a shower, cleaning your teeth, in that order, constitutes a system. After a while you haven’t got to think about it, that’s just the way you do it.  It works!

In exactly the same way, once you have your way of hitting your deadlines in place, you won’t have to think about it. It becomes automatic. Having your systems in place leaves space for the creativity often required for the work and time for having more fun.

Step Five: Leave a Buffer

Leave Yourself Extra Time
(c) Rofi

Leave yourself a little longer than you think you will need, especially the first time you set up this system.

At this point you are training yourself. Aim to get more done in less time. Set yourself chunks of time throughout the assignment and work conscientiously. Set the alarm on your phone and work consistently until the time you’ve allocated yourself is up. Then take your break.

Imagine you are the Managing Director of your company.

You are setting a good example to your other employees. Remind yourself periodically of Step 1 – you are not a child! Get on with it!

Part of developing this self-discipline is to get hold of your brain and gain mastery of it. The nature of the mind is unruly. It wants to be constantly on the move darting into the future – “what shall I get for dinner?”, “I wonder what John’s doing” – or flipping back into the past – “I can’t believe he said that”, “I wish I was still sitting in the Alps looking at the blue sky”.

Stop it!

Don’t go there; it’s lazy unstructured thinking and not the thinking we need for hitting those deadlines! Get in the now. Be present. Think only about the job in hand. Focus on what it is you want to achieve with this project/deadline.

This is a massive step to maturity, placing your attention on what you want. When you realise that you can concentrate your self–confidence takes another flying leap.

Enjoy it!

And do you know what? Look forward to it! Hopefully you are working your dharma: living the life you have chosen or at the very least working in a field that you want to be in. If not, you need to put some time aside and work out what you do want to do. Life’s too short to spend most of it in an occupation that you don’t like or enjoy.  When you are working more from your heart and you have a passion for what you’re doing, it really should be as effortless being.

Recommended Reading:

Stop Letting Your Child Rule Your Life. A more detailed explanation of the Parent/Child/Adult relationship.

What Motivates You? Carrot or Stick? Do This Simple Exercise to Find Out. A simple visual exercise that will help motivate you to hit your deadlines.

Main Image: Myrrh Ahn