How many times have you seen your loved one drunk or stoned or high and reacted in a way you later regretted and that they didn't even remember? How often do you wish you could help them, stop obsessing about their life and start living your own?
If you put these tips into play, you can leave that regret behind, get your own life back, and give your loved one valuable food for thought that could help set them on a new path.
Make inner peace a top priority in your own life.
If your first reaction to this tip is an eye roll, think again. Energy impacts relationships. When your loved one behaves in a crazed, upset, depressed or otherwise imbalanced way, the natural response is upset on your part.
But often, your upset simply multiplies theirs and the impact is to motivate them to numb themselves even more. No, I'm not saying you are responsible for their usage. They are. But, you ARE responsible for your response.
By making inner peace a top priority in YOUR life, you will be better equipped to respond to their problems sanely, rationally, and in a way that helps them move toward a better way of life., PLUS, you will begin to see life through new, more peaceful eyes.
You are always contributing to making things better or worse in your own life and that of your loved ones. Build your own fortress of inner calm so that you can consciously and consistently act in ways with the potential to make things better..
Observe their behaviors objectively and jot them down.
Being willing to see what is actually happening rather than focusing on your inner upset over what is happening. Your inner upset is not directly useful to your desire to help. The facts are! Jot them down. There will be time to share them. Just not yet.
Use the power of your breath to calm yourself down when observing behaviors that trouble you.
Look within again. Are you upset? Is your blood pressure rising? Are you too upset to think clearly? Who wouldn't be! But again, if the goal is to be helpful, it is important to bring yourself back to calm. The 4-4-8 breath exercise works for many to return to peace.
Breathe in slowly, naturally, and deeply to the count of four. Then hold it in to the count of four. Then let it go, again, slowly and naturally, to the count of eight. If these numbers are the ones that work for you, experiment with others. The idea is to use your breath consciously so you can bring yourself back to inner peace.
This does not mean you don't have feelings to work through. We will save the details of that for a future article. But right now, breathe.
If that is not enough, stretch your arms and legs. Walk around the room or block quickly and powerfully, swinging your arms.
During upset, the blood often leaves the brain and goes to the feet. The breath stops and leaves you speechless and at a loss. the key is to return to rational thinking. You may even need to leave the room to bring yourself back to center. To be optimally useful to another person - and to yourself, calm is essential. There are many ways to use breath and body to increase peace within yourself, Use them!
Observe your own words and behaviors.
How do you interact with your loved one? Do you cry to everyone else and keep a stiff upper lip with your struggling loved one, bailing them out of their problems and giving them whatever they want? Do you yell and scream at them before you cave into their demands? Do you tell them what you see, only to back off when they argue that you don't know what you are seeing? If any of these describe your behaviors, how's that been working for you? Be honest with yourself and consider a new path.
Get out of denial and into awareness!
This is important because:
Denial is the linchpin of the addictive system.
Lying to yourself is no longer an option, especially if their drinking or using is out of control, uses your resources, involves your covering up for them and bailing them out of their problems.
Believing their "I've got everything under control" line is NOT helpful. Remember: they must first lie to themselves to keep using. Then, when you confront and they deny, they need you to believe them. That keeps denial in place and allows them to continue using in a smooth, unfettered way.
This leads us to Tip #6:
Stop believing their lies and start believing your own eyes and ears!
Stay aware of the facts of the situation. Believe the facts, not your troubled loved one's spin on the facts. You contribute to their addiction when you allow their lies to push what you have seen and heard into the back of your head. Keep track of the facts by continuing to jot them down.
Look for their behavior patterns in your notes
While it is true that occasionally the eyes and ears can fool us, it is just as true that when a loved one is embroiled in a real struggle with substances or other addictive behaviors, a pattern will emerge. That is what you are looking for in your note taking.
Script and then share what you have seen and heard. in a loving conversation, known as a BALM (Be A Loving Mirror) conversation.
Once you know you have facts worth sharing (relevant to your loved one's challenges), put them into a conversational format as follows:
- start with love
- share the facts
- end with love
Practice delivering this with a tone that is calm, sincere, objective. Save the drama for another day. Not for this conversation.
Then, when you have delivered the love and the facts, either change the subject or walk away.
That is all. Nothing more.
Brief intervention is one of the most powerful evidence-based best practices when it comes to helping a struggling loved one consider choosing recovery.
You share it, without emotion, they get a chance to absorb the facts without the distraction of your drama. Powerful stuff.
If necessary, set a boundary.
A boundary is something you put into place to improve your own life. It's not about controlling them, it's about choosing the life YOU choose to live.
Here are some things to consider:
If your loved one has expected you to bail them out of jail, wake them up for work, take them to their dealer, have the alcohol cabinet stocked, allow them to come in at 3 AM, make all kinds of noise forever and ever, etc., and you see these things as not how you choose to live anymore, you can set a boundary.
Often, boundaries involve you choosing to no longer enable!
Enabling is when you do anything that makes it easier for your loved one to get their substance or engage in their addictive behavior.
Stopping enabling is something that will be hard at first but it will do two things in the long run:
1. Give you greater freedom to not have your life wrapped around their using.
2. Give them fewer choices about how to get their substance or engage in their addictive behaviors.
While they may find other enablers, your no longer being one means you are NO LONGER CONTRIBUTING to their use.
Disengaging from enabling makes your life better in the long run AND helps you be their BEST chance at recovery.
In other words, it will definitely save YOUR life and may even contribute to saving theirs!
Being someone's BEST chance at recovery is about choosing to put yourself first while also being conscious of how you engage with the struggling person.
It's a path worth pursuing IF your goal is to help your loved one and get your life back.
The first thing you need to do is create a distraction "free" zone. If you can't rent space somewhere else, like an office, find a space that you can work uninterrupted for a decent amount of time. Obviously this means you need to turn off your cell phone and email notifications, close all unnecessary windows, tabs and don't check Facebook and other social media.
If your distraction free zone is at home, turn off the TV. Even though you may like the "white noise" that the TV provides in the background, turn it off.
Also, let your friends and family know that you need this specific space to be yours to work. They need to understand that this is a zone for optimal productivity and that you ask they respect that space.
Then close the door to your office and get to work.
2) Separate Life From Work And Work From Life
Once you've found your distraction free zone, next you need to create a workspace separate from everything else. This is especially important if you have to, or choose to, work from home.
Research shows that a change of venue sparks something in us, it creates a sense of difference than our normal routine. Getting up and moving to a new workplace, some new site, makes a part of our brain activate in a way that's different. It's the stimulus of this new environment that helps spark a drive and energy toward our production.
3) Measure Once, Cut Twice
Now that you have a work space and people understand the importance of your work, cut it down to size. Take any large projects you have and break them down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
In carpentry, there's an adage to "measure twice, cut once." To gain the most from this exercise, you should flip these two concepts on their head.
Measure once, see the size and scope of the project and cut it down to as small a portion as possible. Another tip is to make a list of what you need to do, how many steps you predict it will take and set about one step at a time.
4) Time Your Work
Dedicate your time - you've gone this far in learning to maximize your output, don't take a short cut now.
Commit yourself to working in short, highly focused periods of time. This concept, otherwise known as the Pomodoro Technique, is a proven productivity technique used in many industries.
What it instructs us to do is: set limits on the length of time you plan on working and make sure you have very clear boundaries that include breaks in the intervals. It's roughly 80% work, 20% recovery. Plan to start in small increments, 20 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest from that task. Don't make the mistake of extending your time. When you're done with your 20 minutes, you're done. Take a 5 minute break without interruption. You'll come back to your task refreshed and ready to go.
5) Go Granular To Build A Mountain
Think about a car. There's the obvious moving parts, the wheels, the pistons in the engine, etc. But if all the nuts and bolts, all the screws are tight, things fall apart.
How this applies to you, is that you should think about your work as little minor tasks to accomplish and that over time these micro-accomplishments will add up to something greater. Indeed, the sum is greater than the parts - but focus on the parts that matter.
By focusing all your energy on the small things, they have a way to add up over time.
6) Just Say No!
Learn to say NO. Too many of us are willing to take on tasks and challenges from co-workers, clients and loved ones that take us away from our goals. So learn to say no.
There's always more to get done and more than you can ever hope to accomplish.
Obviously there's only so much time in the day, and you only have a finite quantity of energy to get your tasks accomplished, so know when to say when. Or in other words, "no."
It may take awhile for clients, family and friends to learn this from you, but eventually, they'll learn that by you saying no to their every demand and whim, you'll be happier and more productive over the long-term.
It's not easy to do but critical for success.
Be willing to say no will free you up with extra time and energy to focus on the tasks most critical and important to you.
7) Know When To Yield And When To Stop
As we discussed earlier, learn to set limits.
It's a tactic that will help you break down your tasks into simpler, manageable ways.
Your tasks are the vehicle, the engine of your success.
But like an engine, it requires maintenance, upkeep and can't be run forever without breaking down.
Don't just work for the sake of work. Make it a priority to stop when you should and rest when it's time.
Most importantly - DO NOT VEER OFF YOUR PATH - No U-Turns.
Taking decisive action in granular ways will lead you toward the goals you want.
Regardless of your goals, these 7 tips you can use right now will maximize your productivity for all the time you have left.
What are the productivity habits behind the most successful people? If you are constantly looking at your watch and wishing you had more time, here are some ways to add more hours to your day.
Successful time management means giving the right proportion of your time to overall planning, it involves honing your business skills and using techniques to ensure increased efficiency throughout your day.
There are many skills you can learn to help increase productivity. The very core of this skill lies in the understanding of many techniques available, and adopting them. Less stress and more efficiency is a path for continuous improvement.
Highly successful entrepreneurs, sales executives, and sales representatives achieve incredible results by staying focused and overcoming distractions. They maximize the amount of energy they have throughout the day by prioritizing their task and working in a non-crisis atmosphere.
Procrastination is the thief of time; and we often avoid mentally challenging tasks which need to be done sooner than later. It takes a strong resolve to control procrastination. Distractions are prevalent throughout the day, from people who require your opinion and time, and also from useless time we often spend, on Facebook or Twitter which results in a constant need to change our schedule that excludes an important task.
Less stress gives more energy, it is important that you develop effective strategies to balance your time management by relaxing and exercise or sharing problems with friends.
There are fascinating insights in which you can cultivate habits in working exponentially faster, crushing your goals and sustaining more energy throughout the day.
Take breaks throughout the day, this is a sure way of improving your focus and productivity. The reason being that our body clock ticks in two forms.
Circadian Rhythms, which run in 24-hour periods, dictating when we are energized or exhausted.
Ultradian Rhythms: which is a recurrent cycle that runs in 90-minute periods, and creates the ebbs and flows of energy throughout the day.
Taking into consideration these two rhythms it is proved always advisable to work in 25 minute intervals followed by a 5 minute break. This reduces fatigue, increases focus, and helps sustain energy throughout your workday.
Another tip used by highly productive people is to optimize their computer skills for speed, by increasing the speed of the mouse, learning keyboard short cuts for the programs that they us frequently, and using tools to quickly find apps that switch between programs. And lastly by increasing your typing speed to over 80 words per minute by typing through speech recognition.
For long-term goals the best way to start is by defining your purpose, your personal mission statement breaks down to smaller goals or a to-dot list which in turn is your initial purpose.
Focusing only on things you specialize in and outsourcing mindless tasks, like inputting data, cleaning, ordering groceries, can be insanely productive, as these chores that are outsourced can be done for much less than the cost of your personal time spent doing it, by releasing you to have more working hours and more income.
"When you put something off or waste time, you are almost always being unfair to your future self."
- Chris Bailey, The Productivity Project
Do you procrastinate?
If so, I came across a fabulous tip (one of many) in a book I recently read, The Productivity Project; Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy, by Chris Bailey.
If you find yourself continually putting off a task that you know needs to get done sooner rather than later, the author suggests you think of your future self and imagine how that future YOU will feel - if you do the task... and if you don't do the task.
Now, if you do have a tendency to procrastinate, you may have noticed (like me) that the act of putting off a task often feels rather good. As in "Phew! That's one less thing I have to do today!"
But when this happens day after day - with the same task plus new ones - then you are, of course, putting a great deal more work onto your future self's shoulders.
Thinking of our not-so-distant future self
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been giving this 'think of your future self' tip a test drive, to see if it actually works for me, personally, in the procrastination department.
And here's what I'm finding: when I think of myself in the near future - say, me one week from now - I do find it of help to think that by doing a task today, I am lightening the load for that future me. And that feels good.
But does it actually motivate me to tackle the task/s I'd planned to tackle today?
Well, yes - but I'll be honest, it is actually the negative feelings that I will be avoiding that is the big motivator. As in, "Although I still don't want to do this task today, if I think of myself one week from now and STILL have to see that task sitting there, waiting for me to tackle it, haunting me, taunting me, tormenting me, etc, then I will scream."
In other words, when I think to next week and imagine the damn task DONE, that feels so good that I find I am motivated to do whatever dreaded task needs doing, even if it kills me in the short term (which hasn't happened yet and probably won't).
"The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself."
- Emmett's law, Rita Emmett, The Procrastinator's Handbook
Thinking of our very-distant self
Now, strange as this might sound, when it comes to checking in with my distant future self on where I'm at with achieving the big stuff in life - purpose, goals, dreams, bucket-list, etc - I suspect I may have a bit of an odd advantage over some.
I was widowed young, so have been visiting my husband's grave on a regular basis since I was 32. But here's the deal: when I go to the cemetery, I'm not just visiting my husband's grave, I'm also visiting my future grave.
And let me tell you, for the first few years, visiting said grave was not just a heart-breaking experience, it was a rather eye-opening one as well. For there is nothing quite like spending time at one's final destination (at least for the physical body) to provide one with the opportunity for a bit of a check-in with one's future self.
As in, "Okay, I may have 50 years left to get done what I want to get done on this planet... or I may only have 5. Am I on track?"
And when the answer is no (which it sometimes is), the first place I look to see where changes could be made to help get me back on course is to ask myself: "What am I procrastinating on?"