Listen to ‘The Freedom of Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Work and Life’ on the podcast:
In a previous week’s blog, I explored the phenomenon of “generosity burnout” and how training ourselves to be effective givers (not sacrificial givers) allows us to remain buoyed and be able to help others in a meaningful way for the long term (you can read that here). I’ve come to see the “7 Habits of Highly Productive Giving” as a philosophy – but today, I wanted to switch gears and get into some of the practicalities.
How can we actually lighten our load?
How can we do less and be just as effective?
If you have been following my work, you’d know I’m a fan of simplicity, and it’s something that I’m always endeavouring to create. I would love to share two straightforward tools that I use when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and my to-do list is beginning to look rather insane. I’ve taken many a client through the process also, and there is a palpable lightness and relief in the room afterwards. Because they’re too good to keep to myself, I would love to share them with you today also.
Eliminate & Automate
A couple of years back, when I was a one-woman show and was wearing every single hat in my practice and business, my husband sat me down and encouraged me to read Chapter 8: Outsourcing Life of Tim Ferris’s “Four Hour Work Week”. It completely changed my perspective!
The very first step before delegating is to eliminate, simplify and automate where you can. This is a modified version of the flow diagram in the book. I drew it up, stuck it above my desk and did a complete stocktake of everything I was doing.
This is easier if you keep your to-do lists in one spot. I’ve been a bullet journaler for many years, so I looked back on the past month and made a master list of everything I was doing.
If you don’t have access to this kind of record, keep track of everything you’re doing in a week, then add any extra tasks that are missing to your list. This will give you great data to work with!
For each task, take it through the flow diagram and organise it into three columns: Eliminate, Simplify & Automate and Action List.
For all the items in your Eliminate list – you have full permission to STOP doing them now.
For your Simplify & Automate list – this will take a little more consideration. Some questions to get you started:
- Can I reduce the number of steps in this process?
- Which steps can I reduce all together?
- Is it possible to batch any of these together?
- What systems, apps or tools can make this task easier or faster?
And now let’s take your action list and take it to the holy land of holies: Delegation…
I’m coming to you from the perspective of a small business owner – but I’m sure many of these principles are transferable to the traditional office or household.
This step helped me move from the one-woman show to having an incredible little team of freelancers. The first step I made was finding an assistant – and the process I’m about to share has been incredible and revolutionary for me.
Julia came into my life when I was flooded. Having another set of hands to help me manage my inbox, invoices, contracts, stock management, calendar, editorial, social media scheduling, and formatting freed me up significantly to do what I do best: be a naturopath and herbalist. I also see Julia as my practice’s bouncer; she helps enforce my boundaries and policies (which I talked about in last week’s blog).
At the time, I really couldn’t afford her, but at the same time, I couldn’t afford to. And it’s turned out to be a sage decision! It’s meant more growth, more time to play to my strengths and more joy.
Energy Stocktake Exercise – go through the steps for setting healthy boundaries!
Step 1 – Take a look at your “Action List” column and add anything you do not currently do but would like to
Step 2 – For every task, ask yourself these two questions and draw an arrow and add a number next to each one.
First Question – Does this give you energy?
↑ This task gives me energy.
→ This task neither gives nor consumes energy.
↓ This task drains me of energy.
Second Question – Is this something you must do vs. think you should do.
1. I must do this.
2. I feel like I need to do this.
3. I could delegate this to someone who could do it 80% as good as I can with reasonable training and explanation.
Step 3 – Make a new list of anything marked with an “up” arrow regardless of the response to the “Second Question.”
Step 4 – Make a list of anything ranked as a (2) or (3) and is either → or ↓.
Step 5 – Take your list from Step 4 and begin actioning each item by answering these questions on each…
Who could I delegate this to?
When will I delegate this?
Step 6 – Take your list from Step 4 and build your new role out of this list…this is your “Joyful Sweet Spot”. Now develop your new schedule around this list!
Step 7 – Implement, schedule and do it.
Moving Toward Your Joyful Sweet Spot
How much better does that feel? Now, you won’t be able to transplant your delegation list to a new assistant. It will take some time, patience, training and learning how to be a good delegator (it’s a skill) – but within a couple of months, I promise you’ll start feeling lighter and more effective. You’ve now got a clear and actionable plan that you can begin to chip away at.
Your circumstances will likely change as your role changes, your business matures, or kids grow, so just like writing your own loving policies and boundaries, you’ll probably need to review this again in another 6 months.
If you’re currently feeling overloaded or overwhelmed, make sure you take my “Are you burning bright or burning out?” Quiz. Depending on your results, you’ll receive some love letters from me with gentle recommendations on how to nourish yourself and start thriving after a season of surviving.
This is a tiny extract from my course, The Peace Protocol; click here to read more about it.
If you enjoyed “The Freedom of Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Work and Life”, you may enjoy these:
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- “Why am I tired all the time?”: 11 Possible Causes of Your Fatigue
- The Science & Spirituality of Stress