I watched an episode of SWAT with my husband this week. I heard Hondo tell Street “It’s real easy to get lost with the things you can’t control.” (SWAT. Season 2. 12th episode. ”Los Huesos.”)
Meanwhile back in reality, many of us feel a little lost and out of control like Street. It’s been another fun week of “emergency remote learning”. We’re not doing true distance learning or homeschooling. We are in emergency mode and figuring out remote learning on the fly. And thankfully, most of it is starting to fall in place.
But let’s talk about the feeling of being lost. I think part of that is that we are out of our daily routine at school and need to figure out how to be productive from home. You’re not alone.
Many of us find ourselves in this same condition. We used to follow a pretty rigid schedule that was whittled down to the minutes and hours. However, now, we find ourselves wandering from situation to situation trying to put out the fires one at a time with no sense of real direction and wondering how long this is going to last. But, now we’ve had a week or two to get our feet back under us. So, let’s get back to work the way we know how.
We need to FOCUS on some things we used to do well - like goal setting and making lists. This weekend, I want to ask you to identify and physically write down 3 goals for next week. Write them on sticky notes so you can place them right in front of your eyes. This action is something you can control. So do it!
This physical process of writing goals down (not typing them) is going to help you nail down what you specifically want to accomplish next week. Writing them down will bring clarity and FOCUS. There’ll be less aimless puttering around waiting for the next fire to put out.
The physical writing process actually helps encode your goals into your brain and gets your brain working on them subconsciously. The writing process will help the goals stick in your memory. And, yes. I'm a realist, I know we’ll still have to deal with fires, but we’ll be more focused and intentional and get back to the business of meeting our goals.
If you write them on sticky notes you can place them on your computer screen or even the bathroom mirror. If you find yourself going to the fridge a lot, put the sticky notes on your refrigerator! The more often you run into the physical sticky note, the more often you're going to stop and focus on it momentarily throughout the day. You’ll remember these goals because you keep running into them everywhere you look!
Let's continue with some other actions we can control. On Sunday night, I want you to review your 3 goals for the coming week before you go to bed. Then look at them again when you wake up Monday morning. Choose one that jumps out at you the most. On the same sticky note create a brief outline of what it’s going to take to accomplish this goal. Then move on to #2 and #3. You just need to add a brief outline - maybe 2-4 bullets.
Now as you go throughout the day, use these goals to guide your thoughts and actions. Internalizing your goals can actually help motivate and guide your FOCUS and actions for the day. You can’t be in control of everything that happens to you throughout the day. But, at least you can control your FOCUS and your actions tied into your 3 goals. Keep that FOCUS by reviewing your remaining goals each night before you go to sleep and each morning when you wake up.
You may need to put technology to work for you. We’re not normally as attached to our phone and computer as we are right now. If we were at work, we would have to make time to check our phone and computer because we are so busy accomplishing everything we need to do that day.
So, try creating a little routine that mimics making time to check your phone and computer. First, turn on the “Do Not Disturb” button on your computer (Mac, WIndows 10), phone (Apple, Android), and any other communication tools you have. When you have constant access to technology you are constantly being bombarded with little fires to put out and constant notifications that pop up on your cell phone. There is a way to still allow calls from your boss and other key people to come through.
Set a timer to give yourself a fixed amount of time to work on your goal, mute all distractions, and dive in. Once that time is up, get up and walk around and give yourself a little physical break so you will go back to work refreshed. This is the time to check your email and phone for any messages. I'd also encourage you to check out Jennifer Lagarde’s tips that she shared on Twitter.
Back to FOCUSing on work. When you meet a goal - CELEBRATE! Take a quick walk around your neighborhood. Do a happy dance! Wad up the sticky note and throw it away! Facetime with a friend! Or place a big fat X across the goal. You should feel a sense of accomplishment! You met your goal!
Hopefully, this small practice of writing down 3 goals for the week and reviewing them nightly will help better optimize your time so you can start to constructively FOCUS on your identified goals and CRUSH them! And consequently you’ll feel less lost.
Think back to what Hondo said. “It’s real easy to get lost with the things you can’t control.” (SWAT. Season 2. 12th episode. ”Los Huesos.”) Making the choice to write goals down is something you can control. And having goals in place will help you FOCUS your thoughts and produce actions because you are FOCUSed on accomplishing them.
Shoot me an email or DM this week and let me know what goal you knock out of the park! Have a restful weekend and come back ready to charge forward!
Check out this week's podcast interview with Kim Johnson, a high school librarian in Maryland. She has a lot of good ideas about building a community. Take a peek here! https://www.laurasheneman.com/post/librarians-are-community-builders-with-kim-johnson
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