In my private Brave Yes Coaching, my beautiful clients — who are creators or changemakers — often talk about being frustrated that they can’t seem to make time for what matter, including their own well-being needs.
But, almost always the issue is never not enough time because almost always the urgency of life has taken hold and what matters most is shoved to the sidelines.
And almost always, we end up talking about your inner taskmaster.
We all have one.
Mine is fierce and related to her sister part of me — my inner critic.
But these two are separate parts that must be addressed meaningfully.
Your inner taskmaster is voice inside your head that is feeding you a running to-do list — an invisible to do list that keeps you constantly moving and running and non-stop busy.
The inner taskmaster is against rest, play, downtime, pleasure, joy, naps, creativity and anything else that does not feel productive.
Your inner taskmaster is the No. 1 cause of derailment of every great idea you’ve ever had that you didn’t make happen.
THE GOAL OF THE INNER TASKMASTER
I first noticed a longtime client’s inner taskmaster rising up when session after session she was getting frustrated with herself for not making more time for art and creativity.
There’s just so many other tasks to do, she said, flat out annoyed.
The signs were all there — she had an inner taskmaster that was feeding her brain more and more tasks to do … little itty bitty pieces of busy work that filled every nook and cranny of her day until she collapsed into bed far later than she wanted and feeling like she didn’t really do anything at all.
THE INNER TASK MASTER IS HERE TO KEEP US DISCONNECTED FROM WHAT MATTERS.
It’s here to keep you working constantly to prevent everything from falling apart.
You don’t want anything fall apart. So you will keep surveying your environment to ensure everything and everyone is safe. This means you spend a crushing amount of time doing productive, preventative mental, physical and emotional labor that often has nothing to do with your dreams, your goals or your personal needs.
A recent client epiphany led to the realization that the inner taskmaster was keeping them from literally enjoying her time at home. She was too busy assessing the potential collapse of everything all around her family life. The schedule. The house. The kids. The marriage.
And then she realized how that same inner taskmaster is showing up at work as a leader perhaps stressing her and her team more than necessary.
LEARNING TO QUIET THE INNER TASKMASTER IS A PROCESS THAT BEGINS WITH NOTICING IT.
When one of my clients gets into a session and starts talking about her overwhelm, her lack of time, her feelings of frustration at not making time for herself or her passion projects, I am there to remind her that her inner task master has taken over.
The first and fastest way to quieting the inner task master is to notice when it is calling the shots and controlling the show.
The inner taskmaster will tell you that you have to hurry up and get ALL THE THINGS DONE before you can rest.
And, of course, your inner taskmaster will keep you so busy because the finish line is impossible to find. The enoughness is blurry.
WHEN A NEW TASK SHOWS UP, IS IT RELATED TO YOUR GOALS, YOUR DREAMS, YOUR NEEDS? OR IS IT BUSYWORK?
When we know what matters most to us, it’s easy to decide if a task is important or just urgent. The little fires that pop up each day are going to always need to be assessed.
The problem is when we don’t know our purpose, our path forward. If your are not clear on your goals and dreams, it’s even easier for the inner taskmaster to take over and run your day.
Write down your important, life-giving goals and the tasks that belong to them.
And then when a new random “little fire” pops up that calls your attention, assess the real risk that is unfolding.
This is when slowing down and pausing before each task can be a great help.
And take note.
Perhaps that urgent task isn’t as urgent as tending to yourself, your bigger dreams or your ways or your ways of being connected in this world.
In this week’s episode of The Brave Yes Show — the first one after a summer hiatus — I’m getting on my soap box about the idea of lack of time and what that means.
If you read my post last week about wasting time, you will know that my philosophy is never to start looking at where you can get strategic about adding things in. It’s always going to be about what you can eliminate.
But in this podcast, I’m talking about how I know if I’m doing enough, what it can really mean to feel like you have a lack of time and how to judge your own productivity.
Your time is a precious resource. Once you use it, it cannot be given back to you. This is why it’s so important to really understand all of the time wasters to stop doing so you can really use your time more wisely and powerfully.
Certainly there are a lot more distractions now compared to a decade ago and focusing — especially if you work at a desk and computer and own a phone — is a challenge. Our information overload is causing exhaustion, burnout, apathy and an inability to focus.
Like everything, technology is something we need in moderation. We need to be able to temper our own sense of urgency and cope with the fear of missing out and we need to be able to prioritize.
But, let’s be honest. Our time wasters aren’t just happening by checking email too much or scrolling on social media.
My job as your coach is to help YOU know what your next move is.
But first we almost always have to do some other work — letting go work, especially around time wasters to stop.
Letting go, surrender and trust work has been a showcase of the work I’ve been doing for a decade with my clients who are ready to step more bravely and boldly into their next act in life.
Because the truth is that before we can move forward and truly thrive we must first do the work of letting go of what is no longer serving our businesses, our creativity or our well-being.
That might mean …
:: Letting go of a former identity that you can’t shake (I have a beautiful coaching session that I offer my clients who need to do this!) :: Letting go of a program or offer that isn’t working out :: Letting go of a job or career :: Letting go of a person or team member :: Letting go of a bad habit :: Letting go of a pile of shoulds, coulds and what ifs :: Letting go of an income stream that isn’t serving your heart-centered values
It’s only after we free ourselves of the weight of what is not working that we feel light enough to rise up and soar. Trust me, I’ve been there. Over and over and over.
Sometimes, though, we have to begin at the very beginning — just starting with a promise to ourselves about what we will not do today. I asked my audience on LinkedIn about this very idea and they came back with some great responses — 15 energy zappers that we can all let go of today, I’m sure.
Here are 15 Time Wasters To Stop Doing in Order to Make Progress On Your Goals
I will not check email outside designated times.
I will not doomscroll.
I will not ruminate and over-perfect.
I will not work on projects that zap my energy.
I will not spend too much time planning out every little detail.
I will not obsess over things that are not in my control.
I will not overschedule meeting time over maker time.
I will not forget to look away from the computer if I have been working for at least 30 minutes.
I will not let other priorities immediately drop into what’s on deck for the day as they arrive in my inbox.
I will not stress about what needs to be done.
I will not worry, doubt, let fear paralyze me, won’t scroll or skip meals.
I will not have unnecessary meetings because I love talking to other people.
I will not get sucked into fixing website issues.
I will not spend more time than necessary going through emails.
I will not forget to continue delegating.
Once we clear away the cobwebs of overwhelm and distractions — and what is not serving us — we are left with the essence. The nectar of a beautiful, powerful and productive day.
In other words, we begin to feel less lost and instead feel more focused.
But, there is ONE more idea to add in here — Your Energy Bliss List.
Since my clients are all high achieving creators and changemakers AND juggling self, family and home responsibilities — busy is an understatement. We need all the energy, space and clarity we can get to perform at our highest level to do bolder things.
Your Energy Bliss List is one of my own favorite practices — and one
I’ve been inviting women to use for years. It was actually one of the very first exercises we did in my popular online program starting in 2012.
**Your Energy Bliss List should be energy boosters you can do very simply and very easily in your home or work space.
These do not take up more time or energy. They BOOST your energy.
As I write this post, I have a candle burning and my writing playlist on — and a cup of coffee. This little ritual of these three things is an automatic creative energy booster for me.
PROMPT: Create your Energy Bliss list — a short list of a handful of powerful things that boost your energy and give you joy and delight in your day.