As a business owner and a working mother, there’s a lot to do. It’s endless, really. During the busy times and the rainy weather, the first things to fall off the list are exercise and fresh air breaks. Apparently, I’m not alone in these self-care fails. That’s why last month when my mastermind group of small business owners was planning our June meeting, we decided to schedule a walk and talk in Prospect Park. While we didn’t break a sweat, we did get some steps in, enjoy the energy of the beautiful day, celebrate wins and plot out our goals for the coming months.
For me, these are the moments where I know I can focus on the things that are important to me and I can make the less fun parts of being a grownup fun, in my own way.
Listening to my favorite podcast while I pay bills and do my weekly budgeting tasks.
Rallying my daughters to help me cut out colorful quotes for my next workshop.
Setting up running dates with friends instead of dinners where we will both inevitably eat and spend too much.
This may sound like an obvious concept, yet I find in my coaching practice that suggestions to combine activities can have a profound impact in cleaning up procrastination and reigniting self-care.
To take this approach from idea to practice, follow these simple steps:
Make a list of tasks or activities where you’ve been stalling on forward movement or creating a habit.
Make a list of activities that feel like a treat or a gift—things you may feel guilty spending time on when there are "important things" that need to be done.
Match up tasks from each list so that they seem like a good fit in terms of duration, concentration level and focus. (Hint: listening to an audio book while performing a task that requires focus—like writing—will not work, but an audio book while folding laundry may be a perfect fit.)
Pick one or two to begin an efficiency experiment.
For some of my activity combos, I’ve started to look forward to the things I used to truly dislike. Like on the days when I have a 45-minute (or longer commute), I think—it’s just you and me, Terry Gross or Krista Tippett or Oprah. We’re going to make all of these delays and invasions of personal space memorable, even inspiring. And for those areas where I’m still procrastinating, I’m constantly asking, "How can I make this more palatable…or dare I say, fun?" Sometimes the answer is as simple as planting myself at my favorite coffee shop, brainstorming with a close friend or co-working with my puppy who rests his chin on my foot. Somehow, the joy of sweetening the deal gives me the fuel I need to keep moving forward.