About 20 years ago my manager gifted me Believe and Achieve by Australian motivational Author Paul Hanna. A senior manager walked past whilst I read it on my lunch break and said “I didn’t think you’d need a book like that”. I never really asked her what she meant but I presume that since I was energetic and enthusiastic person she didn’t think I would need to need a pick-me-up from the self-help book. She was a long way off the mark. I use many techniques to keep me up each and every day.
This book was my first venture into self improvement and it has been a lifelong enjoyment over the past 25 years since receiving that book.
Overall I’m a naturally happy person, but I still use daily strategies to keep me “up”. Here’s a list of 9 techniques I use. I hope it helps you grapple with the ups and downs of your modern life.
The most important thing I do to stay up is exercise. I wake at 5:40 each weekday morning to walk twice a week and run three times. I head to our local bakery to buy bread or rolls for everyone’s lunches and get back with plenty of time to stretch and warm down and eat breakfast before any one starts saying “mum, mum, mum”. Exercise in the morning is my “me time”.
Podcasts and audiobooks
Another technique to keep me up is to listen to podcasts and audiobooks. Rather than have my own thoughts going around and around my head of “I could do this” or “I should do that” I prefer to listen to other people’s stories and their journey in life. It gives me great comfort to hear the stories of others and realise the up and down emotions I feel about my business, and life, are what it means to be human.
My strict daily routine is another thing that keeps me up. There is no second-guessing when things get done in my day. There is very little indecision because I’ve made deliberate and conscious choices about what to do from my long list of to-dos and when to do them. Deliberate choices in this way help reduce the overwhelm of choosing what to do each day. Everything in my daily routine is there to make be a better mum, wife, business owner and the best version of me possible.
Another technique to keep me up is it to look on the bright side of every situation. In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald A Day at a Time with Pollyanna at His Side, actor Michael J Fox says ”That’s the way I look at things – if you focus on the worst-case scenario and it happens, you’ve lived it twice. It sounds like Pollyanna-ish tripe but I’m telling you, it works for me.” It absolutely works for me too. I don’t blindly go about thinking everything is perfect. I calculate the pros and cons of scenarios, put some measures in place and I understand there is no point worrying about “what ifs” until they eventuate. If they eventuate, I will deal with it then.
More recently I have been learning to sit and do nothing. All of my life I’ve found doing nothing absolutely excruciating. I had thoughts of all the things I “should” get up and do. However during the “lockdowns” in Melbourne during 2020 there has literally been nowhere to go and nowhere to rush to. This is given me the opportunity to practice being present. Being in the moment. And you know what? I’m realising the present is quiet a lovely place to be.
Rally your team
I share my business adventures with two professional organising colleagues on a call each week. I find it helpful to “talk shop”. Although they are competitors there is so much to be learned from their experiences with clients and how they run their businesses. I find this camaraderie an invaluable technique to keep me up.
Another more recent thing that I have done to keep me up is quit drinking. This is a whole other blog topic, but in a nutshell it came about quite easily after understanding the habit loop explained by Charles Duhigg in his book “The Power of Habit” (see image below). I realised the reward I craved was feeling relaxed on the weekend after the ups and downs of working on the business all week. It became my routine to reach for alcohol to relax. However, once I read about the habit loop I made some changes:
- keep the cue (Friday night),
- insert new routine (gave myself permission to stop and sit on the couch)
- got the same reward (feeling relaxed).
Another technique to keep me up is to have realistic goals. As women we want to achieve it all, do it all, be it all and we want it all NOW! We CAN do it all but it’s difficult to pursue all of it at the one time. Being specific about what I’m focusing on each week has been invaluable to me.
I’m clear about my goals at home and my family’s involvement in reaching these goals. I am clear on the household chores and we all do them together. A clear list and an allocated time in the diary reduces the overwhelm
In relation to being realistic about my business goals, I no longer drive around the city looking at the business and think “that company might need a professional organiser.” I now solely focus on working women and helping them declutter and organise their homes. Defining my niche and being realistic about what I can achieve each day is a key technique to staying up.
I’m no longer a people pleaser
Ahhhhh…. a big one here! Are you a people please? I didn’t realise until fairly recently that I’m a big people pleaser . Being a people pleaser can be exhausting when you’re trying to run a home and business. Over the years I’ve thought about why I think my home should look a certain way or I should raise my kids in a certain way. I’ve asked myself: are these actually external pressures or are they coming from myself internally? Overall I’ve found that there’s a mix of internal and external pressures. I try to keep them both in check.
These are just some of the techniques I use deliberately choose to work on each and every day to keep myself up. I don’t do them some days, or occasionally, it’s all very a deliberate way to help me organise the life I want to live and make life simpler and more fun. Try them out and let me know what works for you or let me know if I’ve missed any.
If this article has brought up any mental health challenges for you please reach out to a professional for their help and advice. This article is my personal techniques. That being said I’d love to hear from you if you need help to sort out your weekly routine to get some more of these techniques in your life to help you stay up. Of course I’m l also available to work with you to clear physical clutter in your home too to make life simpler and more fun. Contact me for a chat or find out more about my services here.
Who is Julie Cliff, Professional Organiser in Melbourne?
Being organised with your space and time can help you feel calmer, happier and less stressed. By being organised you can focus on the important things in your life: more time with your kids and family, write that novel or finally get those odd jobs around the house done. With more time to focus on yourself you can really start achieving your goals! I’d love to hear from you.