4 steps to take when life feels overwhelming

In my experience, there are two situations when life can feel overwhelming. The first, is a burn out, where you’ve been applying yourself so fully, that what you probably most need – is some rest.

The other type – is when life is demanding a lot from you, and you consistently feel unable to meet your obligations. You start procrastinating on important and unimportant things. You try to avoid life. Things just keep piling up. And before you know it, you find yourself in a s***storm that you don’t feel you can handle. That’s the type of overwhelm I would like to talk about today – mostly because, that’s the type of overwhelm I’ve been dealing with. Fun.

I made a decision that something needs to change. I have been implementing these 4 practices that I am about to share with you, into my life for the last 2 weeks, and I’ve noticed such a beautiful transformation in my inner resilience and in how my life feels.

So if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and underprepared – these 4 steps can help you get back in the driver’s seat of your life.

Continue reading “4 steps to take when life feels overwhelming”

Done is better than perfect

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My husband always says I’m an “all or nothing” kind of girl.

I’ve always been that way. Even as a young girl, when my mother used to ask me to clean my room (and I was so messy back then), I could never just quickly put things in it’s place and tidy up. I had to go all out. But only when I felt like it.

First, I would wait. I would wait for the “perfect time”, when I truly felt like cleaning my room. I would start from 0 and I would turn my room upside down and inside out.  I would basically move in to my room all over again. And of course – I’d get tired, so it would would take me like a week to complete cleaning my tiny little room. I’m exhausted just writing about it.

Continue reading “Done is better than perfect”

The first of a new month

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I love firsts. I love the first of a new year, but also a new month, a new week, even a new day. There are so many opportunities to be re-evaluate and to refresh the feel of your life. This is something that is very important to me because I am certain about one thing – I do not want to let anymore time pass without me becoming a better human being or having a better experience of life.

Here is a glimpse of some of the things I like to look at at the beginning of a new month.

Continue reading “The first of a new month”

How to create your own Lifebook: A personal workbook of your life

Do you have a Lifebook?

For me, creating a lifebook is the love-child of both; my obsession with stationary and my obsession with planning and documenting my life.

I love journals (Moleskine in particular).I have so many journals. So many! And sadly, most of them are unused. I don’t even want to use them for the fear of wrecking them. Journals are something that I both don’t need and desperately need simultaneously. Ick!

I finally found a good use for my beautiful journal. A lifebook.

So what is a Lifebook? A Lifebook is your personal workbook for your life.

For me, it is the perfect balance between art and productivity/planning. I like art, but not always enough to fill an entire journal.

I’m going to pretend you find it as fascinating as I do, and tell you how to make your own life book!

Creating your New Year Goals, Trials and Focuses.


Goals

It’s very difficult to truly commit to an action, habit or goal for the 365 days of the year. That’s why your “Goals” list should be as exclusive as possible.

Continue reading “Creating your New Year Goals, Trials and Focuses.”

Get productive!

 

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Hmmm I needs to gets me some of that!”

Everyone’s thinking it. Productivity. Everyone wants it. Everyone wants to do it. Everyone wants to feel like they are doing enough, or that they are doing something at all!

But life is hard and life is fast and it is so easy to get overwhelmed. Pretty soon you don’t even even have a to-list-, let alone know where yours starts or ends.

But productivity is simple. There is just one word associated with it: DO.

As Nike says, just do it.

Here are some tips to be more productive with your time.

 

Work with your Most Important Tasks.

Every morning wake up and write down your three most important tasks of the day. The three things that, come what may, you HAVE to get done. These are not the things you would naturally do because you have to (Such as going to work/school/eating), but those other bad boys that keep coming up on your to-do list day after day.

So write down your top 3. And then make it your life purpose to get these things in your day. If nothing else – these three items must be completed by the end of the day. If you’re a superstar, you can try to get all three items done before midday, if the task permits.

 

Work with your energy levels.

Work with your energy levels, not against them. We go through troughs and peaks in our energy throughout the day, and  it’s different for each person. A high energy period is a period of time where you are pumped and ready to do “high energy” tasks, that requires more thought, attention, energy, focus, physical input etc. “Low energy” tasks are tasks that do not require too much attention and care, but can still be “done”. Examples of low energy tasks are – booking appointments, making phone calls, responding to e-mails, laundry, cleaning etc.

The secret to being productive is to not do high energy tasks all the time. The secret is to understand your own personal energy levels and patterns through out the day and work through your tasks appropriately. For some people, mornings are very high energy time periods for them, and so they can get lots of great productive work done during the early hours of the morning.

Then by afternoon, when their energy levels begin to dip a bit low, you can switch over to more low energy tasks. You’re still being productive. Just at a different pace. A pace that works for you.

The resistance comes when we try to do high energy tasks in a low energy time (trying to study physics during afternoon nap time? Nuh uh. Not gonna happen!),  or even when we do low energy tasks during a high energy period (being stuck responding to e-mails/phone calls when I’m super inspired and ready to go out there and kick butt. No way!).

So first things first, ask yourself “am I high energy or low energy right now?” and act appropriately.

 

Batch like tasks together.

Batch similar tasks together – such as making phone calls. Make all the phone calls you need around the same time. You will be on a particular frequency when you do a certain task, so it makes sense to similar tasks while you are sittin’ at that frequency too.

 

Generate an energy wave.

Here’s a great trick that seriously works every time! When you have a task ahead of you that you just can’t seem to get started on, what you need to do is go and sit down and set a timer on for 5 minutes.

And for those 5 minutes, all you are allowed to do is to think about the task. Nothing else.

An example for this would be cleaning my room. For those 5 minutes I will think about cleaning my room. I’ll practically clean my room in my mind. By about 2 minutes I am ready to go, but I force myself to stay there for the whole 5 minutes.

Within these 5 minutes I generate so much energy within myself, that all I want to do is clean my room. And the great side effect to this trick is that you will most likely complete this task in a fraction of the time you thought it would take.

It really works! Try it!

 

Just put in the time.

Sometimes our impending projects become way too big that we are too scared to even start. We don’t even know where to start. We don’t know when it is finished. It’s just this big cloud of impending doom. Well that attitude ain’t gonna get us anywhere.

Whenever I panic about the enomity of the task ahead, and how I don’t even know where to start, Miss Prescot will always say to me “Malavika, just put in the time.”

What does she mean by that? She means that when a task is too big for us to get our cute little heads around, all we need to think about is putting in the time. Don’t think about how much you even plan to achieve in a certain time period – but just put in the time.

If I’m writing an essay, I don’t have to think “okay I am going to finish half the essay in 2 hours. GO!”, instead all I think is “Ok I’m going to spend 1 hour on this essay.” That’s it.

And then I spend one hour on the essay.

And I feel better. And I can breathe a sigh of relief. Because I’ve done something. I’ve done something other than just sitting there freaking out about it. I’ve made progress. I’ve taken the first step.

And if I can do that, I can do anything!

So next time, instead of panicking about HOW MUCH you have to do, JUST PUT IN THE TIME.

If you put in the time, everything else will fall into place.

 

—-

The other day I was meditating and I was talking to Miss pdubs about how I felt like my to-do list was building up and I was getting caught behind. And how it was overwhelming. And how I needed to make a plan.

She gave me the best advice. She said:

“Malavika, having a plan is important. And you should definitely take the time to make one. But at the end of the day, the secret to getting ahead is to start NOW with what you have.”

That’s it. Don’t wait for other resources to fall into place because we already have enough to make a difference now. We have what we have. And we have right now. This is our moment of power.

What can you do right now that will make your life a little bit easier, a little bit more productive?

Start now.

Just do it.

 

How I do New Year

Hello my sweet things!

It has taken many new-years before I finally found my own personal recipe for the perfect new year. The best part is that all you really need is love, open eyes and an open heart. And some special people to share it with.

This is what I do:

I de-clutter my space

Ah yes, the big clean! The 31st is my favourite day to put on my sweats, tie my hair back, rubber gloves on, and on my hands and knees scrubbing away. It is so important to start the new year with a clean space and a clean mind. It’s hard to have a clutter free mind if our surroundings are constant reminders of all the chaos that may have accumulated (quite naturally) from 2010. Get rid of the things you don’t need, love, or use. Feng-shui up your life!

I’m going to direct you to an article from the blog of my friend and business coach Heather White, which gives you a first hand experience of the benefits of de-cluttering. Check out her other articles too! She’s awesomelicious.

http://www.heatherwhite.ca/confessions-of-a-perfectionist/sometimes-you-just-have-to-take-your-life-by-storm/

I set my space

Now everything’s sparkly and clean. Now what? Now I have to set myspace for new year! Pretty it up. Light candles, turn on my Christmas lights. Play music. Bring in fresh flowers. Burn incense.

I take a lovely hot cleansing bath with sea salts

I find that hot baths with natural sea salts really help raise my vibration to be in total alignment with the vibration I want to be in to attract my highest good. It is also a greatly cleansing experience – I simply visualize the hot water washing away any negative energy or residue that is trapped within me. I let it go.

I make myself feel pretty!

Dressing up is a must. I’ll wear a pretty dress with some killer shoes, do my hair, paint my toes, wear some sweet perfume. Because looking good makes you feel good, and when you feel good, you can accomplish anything!

I spend time in meditation

I will either do a guided meditation, or sit in stillness for some time. I also have this great CD that has the “Om” mantra repeated over and over again many times. I’ll put that on and let that echo through the house. And it feels blissful!

I set my intention for the year

I take the time to find my ONE powerful intention that I can use for the entire year. Something that is in total alignment with all my intentions and wishes for myself. I haven’t figured out what mine will be yet. But when I do, I’ll be sure to share!

I set my goals for the year

YAY this is so much fun! This year I have set it in the following categories “Spirituality/My work, Personal development, Financial, School, Hobbies/Things to “do”)

I usually just allow myself to write whatever comes to my head at first. And then I go through my list and refine it, choosing only the most important ones. It’s better to have a few focused goals, than many goals that may excite you but you do not feel totally committed to you. Commitment is key! Do you feel butterflies in your tummy when you write about it? If not, then it probably doesn’t need to be there. Be honest with yourself. What do you WANT. Not what other people want, or what you think you should want. But what do YOU want. Can you make the commitment, tonight, to make 2011 a year of making all your dreams come true?

I write a letter to myself

I’ll write a letter to myself on the new year about my experience of 2010, that I will read in the next new year. It’s an eye-opening experience, to see how much I have achieved, experienced, and explored. It is a great opportunity to show total gratitude for my life, and to see how much I have grown.

I engage in something that is aligned with fun and joy!

Make sure you take the time to really engage in something that  is fun and joyful to do! This can mean something different to everybody!  You may like to go and party like rockstar, or light fireworks, or listen to your favourite music! For myself, I like to dance and laugh with people I love. So this is something I make sure I incorporate into my new-year routine!

 

 

So there it is, this is what I like to do on new years. A couple of other things I didn’t write about – but I also like to give myself a reading, make my predictions for 2011 (And write them down so I can verify how accurate they have been), talk to miss prescot, and watch the fireworks from a distance.

I’m going to and play with my puppy outside for some time now. I will write you again soon 🙂

 

 

How to get things done to get ahead!

We’re getting to that point in the year where things begin to get quite overwhelming. Winter is setting in, deep and dark. Christmas is approaching, along with New Year – a time where we yearn for things to be different.

For students, this is a time with finals, group projects, and assignment deadlines are looming over our cute little heads like a dark cloud.Everything is happning at once, and this can be overwhelming.You miss one class. Or forget to do one thing on your to-do list. And before you know it, you have an endless list of things to do that never seem to get done. You don’t even know where to start. You don’t een know how to start!

So, how do you feel on top of things?

First of all, where is this feeling of being overwhelmed coming from?

– You have a lot of “unfinished business”. You’re making a mess.

Everytime a new task comes your way – whether its something that needs your action or simply your attention – you open up something new. And the more open things we have, the more stressed out we become. Until we have an efficient way or collecting, organzing, and working through our mess, we’re just going to get more and more stressed out!

The way to eliminate this feeling is to firstly, decide what you want to do with the task, and then, if you can, do it!

– You don’t have a efficient means of collecting this “unfinished business” in one place.

Instead, we try to grasp at things and “remember” them for a more appropriate time. You write a few tasks in your calender, some in your PDA, remind your best friend to remind you of something later, and most things we try to simply just “remember”. But this is incredibly inefficient and is the leading cause to our lack of productivity. And not only our lack of productivity, but even just that nauseating feeling we get sometimes when we just don’t even know how to start. How do we know what to do next if we don’t even know WHAT we have to do? What we need to do, is create a better system for collecting your tasks and to-do’s.

The best advice I have heard on this step is to find just ONE place to collect it. Two if you must. But let the second one be a “Transitionary” collector – a place where things go to be processed before making it to your primary collector. For example, you may have a notepad to write down all incoming tasks in your day (perhaps because it is more convenient to carry around a notepad), and then when you decide to review your tasks, you move them into your PDA or whatever it is you kids play with these

– You are not being as productive with your time as you should be because you do not know what the first step to take is.

This one is a no brainer. If you don’t know exactly what to do – and I don’t mean just some vague idea of the direction you’re going – I mean knowing exactly the next action step you must take – then the chances are, you ain’t gonna take it. You’re gonna waste your time doing the less important tasks because the next action step might be more obvious. You’re gonna call a friend. You’re gonna talk about how you are feeling so overwhelmed in your life. You’re gonna spend hours on facebook.

I know the story.

 

So, let’s fix it!

You have a lot of unfinished business – you’re making a mess.

Yeah. This is life. Welcome.

First of all, get rid of any unrealistic expectations you have about how “Finished” your business should be. There will always be something to do. Fact.Your inbox will never be fully empty. Maybe for a few moments. This is the dynamic nature of life. It’s a cool thing, really.

Our unhappiness doesn’t come from the fact that we have a lot to do (infact, we can derive a sense of purpose and drive from feeling that we have steps to take forward), but it is the fact that we are not efficiently dealing with the things in our inbox.

Try to see it like this: everytime a new incoming tasks comes to your attention, a new box opens up. Every single thing that you need to “do”, delegate, or simply attend to in some way- you’re opening a new box. And note that you’re not labelling these boxes. You’re just bringing in these half opened boxes into your brand new apartment. And you’re making a mess! Using this analogy, it seems obvious to work through the boxes, and start labeling them, and then figure out where to put them. You keep em’, or you get rid of em’. It’s simple. If only we could do this with our mental tasks.

Well, hey, you can!

So, let’s begin.

Remember that as the number of half opened boxes increases in your mind-apartment, the more stress you feel. Thre more stress you are under, the higher your chances are of feeling overwhelmed.

 

—-

1. Collect all information

I want you to take 5 minutes out of your life right know to brainstorm everything you need to do today, tomorrow, this week, in life, in general.

Don’t worry about putting things into any order or even making sense. Just write. go. go. go!

Trust me, this is going to feel real good!

Your cute little head can’t handle any more information!

This is good for your soul.

My physics professor would say “Even if you don’t have to, Solve quadratic equations – it’s good for your soul.”

I’m not convinced. Yet.

(You can even put in random important dates etc. Whatever “information” is in your mind that you need to remember and do something about)

 

2. Split up these tasks into categories.

So now let’s make sense of this mess.

This is equivelent to labelling the boxes “cutlery” and “books”. School? Work? Relationships? House stuff? Hobbies? Extra curricular ? Sport? Spirituality?

 

3. Go through each one and ask yourself these questions:

Now that you’ve organized everything, you need to decide what to do.Go through each task that comes up on your list:

Can I take action on this within the next five minutes?

If Yes – do it! There’s no time like the present, y’all!

If No – Here you can either:

a)  Delegate it (is there someone else who can do it for you?)

b) Or you can defer it (put it on your calender for later date. Schedule it in.)

For example – if you really need to study physics (Ummmm personal example) like BADLY, but you can’t do it within the next five minutes, then I would schedule it in for tomorrow at 6:00-9:00pm at the library. Now it is no longer on my mind and causing me stress, because in my soul, I feel like I have done something about it. I’ve taken care of an important matter. I’m going to fix it. Don’t worry about it.

c) Or trash it! Do you really really have to do it?

There are many times we take on menial tasks in our life that we just can’t afford to spend our time, energy and money on. Why is this on your list? Maybe out of your good will and good heart, but is this the best thing for you? Perhaps not. Get comfortable with saying no, and not feeling like a failure. If there is something that has been on your to-do list for days, weeks, and months, you really need to ask yourself these questions. Is there a reason you keep putting it off? Why? Do you really need to do it? If you don’t, then be gone with it! Hasta la vista, baby.

 

Now go through your calender, with all your new scheduled tasks in.

It must feel good. Dance classes, assignment deadlines, library study parties, dinner dates, family outings, things to do.

You should feel a big weight off your shoulders.A big cause of stress is not all the things we have to do but our disorganization of it.

Having everything written down on your calender- a place that will be effective in reminding you of where and when you need to be somewhere doing something that eneds to be done, will feel great!

Now start doing the things on your list!

come on.

Have will power.

Keep your word.

Get things done.

 

Today.

 

How to kick your motivational slump in the butt!

This is something I think we all struggle with at some point in our life. I would say I am a pretty upbeat, positive and inspired person – yet I still face days where I could really use a kick of inspiration to get me excited about my life again.I don’t think this is because there is anything inherently “wrong” with our lives (though at times, there may well be things we need to change), because down time is important. So take your down time, and enjoy it. But what happens when you start thinking “well, that break was great, but now I really need to get going again”Well, you will probably find this blog post and begin implementing some awesome changes in your life.I am sure there are many other things that work, but these are the ones that work well for me.

1. Review your life

This is the most crucial step. You can’t think about getting ahead if you don’t accurately know where you are. And no, just knowing that you feel “bleh” about your life does not suffice. You need to be more specific. What doesn’t work right now in your life? Is it your diet? Your body? Your cluttered mind? Your family dynamics? Your school work? Your relationship? Your groundedness? Your groove?

It’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed by all the things that are “going wrong” and “not working” in your life if you don’t cut to the chase and start getting really specific about what exactly is not working for you anymore.

Interesting story – the other night, I did this exact thing. I went through a list of things that were not working in my life and one of the items on the list was “I need help doing my laundry”. I know it sounds silly, but it really gets me down. I just can’t carry my laundry load all the way to the launderette, its too heavy and my little baby arms just can’t do it! Anyway, just talking about it made me feel a little bit better, because it was like I was “handing it over” to a higher power. Miss Prescot (my spirit guide) just told me that everything would be okay.

And then what happened? Only the most amazing thing ever. I randomly started telling my roommate Marie, about my laundry anxiety, and she said “….Look what came in the mail today!” and she handed me a flyer. The flyer was about this laundry service which comes, picks up your clothes, washes and dries, and FOLDS your clothes and returns it to you the following day – AND all of this is cheaper for me, than to actually use the one in my neighbouhood!

 

2. Set goals in the different “areas” of your life

.If you just start thinking “I need to change my life. How can I change my life?!” you’re being too broad and you are unlikely to be able to effectively make any true changes. Split your life into categories, and create some exciting goals for each one. How do you want each one to be looking once your life feels more like “you” again?I like to use:

School

Relationships

My spirituality

Work

Hobbies

Health and body wellness

3. Commit to a new fitness program.

Nothing gets me more exciting than committing to a new fitness program. It could be a schedule for the gym, the pool, gymnastics, running, dancing, aerobics, yoga, pilates, you name it! Just creating your time table and commiting to a few hours a week of some body lovin’ is very inspiring.

If you are not living in the body of your dreams, then this is the first and most important step you can take!Find a fitness program that truly resonates with you and have fun with it. Join the gym, sign up for classes, let your hair down! I started dance classes (and my yoga classes begin in November) and I just cannot get enough of them. But that’s a post for another day 😉

4. Fix your diet.

I’m learning now (the hard way) that a lousy diet can really effect your sense of internal peace and wellness. So plan your meals in advance, be conscious about what you put into your mouth, eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you’re not. Lots of fruits, vegetables, water and vitamins.

Find a diet that works for you and maybe go on a 30 day detox! My roommate Michelle and I are cutting chocolate and junk out of our diet beginning on Tuesday. I’m kind of nervous (because the chocolate here is just so damn tasty) but I am more excited about how great I’m going to feel after!

 

5. Change something about your appearance.

This is a fun one and it is up to you how drastic you want the change to be. You could get a hair cut, buy a cute new outfit, paint your nails a different colour, wear a colour you don’t usually wear, change your style! Remember there is not guidebook for how you should be living your life, and just because you have looked a certain way all your life, doesn’t mean you have to stay that way forever! Who cares what people think? To be totally honest, they are probably more concerned with how THEY look than how you look. So do it! Be bold.

When you look in the mirror and start seeing a “different you” you start to attract that. You start to attract the you that you would really like to be.So, how would your dream self be looking like and dressing like? Mix it up!

 

 

6. De-clutter! Create your space.

How hard is it to make some real life changes when everything about your surroundings says “I’M STILL THE OLD ME!!”?

Very hard, i’ll tell you that much!So feng-shui up your life! Create your own personal haven. Candles, fairy lights, beautiful flowers, crystals, clean, minimalist, artistic, authentic – you. Whatever works for you!

As Oprah says “Your home should rise up to greet you.”Get rid of everything you don’t need, won’t need, don’t use, don’t love.

 

 

7. Wake up earlier – find a sleeping pattern that works for you.

Make better use of your time by waking up earlier and getting in the habit of being productive! Try just waking up an hour or two earlier than you usually do and notice the amazing benefits it has on your life.

 

 

8. Spend some time in meditation.

Many times when we are feeling overwhelmed and uninspired, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to spend some time alone, quietly, in meditation and contemplation. At first, it’s going to be hard – especially if you are not feeling very grounded – but keep at it, and over time, you will master it. It will bring you more peace than anything in your life – ever.And you can do this for yourself. And I think that is amazing.

 

 

9. Organize your life – collect all your “incoming tasks” into one place.

Another reason we feel overwhlemed is because we are not effiently and effectively collecting our “incoming” tasks.

By incoming tasks , I mean our neverending to-do list. Go grocery shopping, take out trash, write blog post, finish physics assignment, figure out what the hell is going on in physics, write up lab report, buy socks, change sheets, eat, oh…cook first, then eat, meditate, call mrs. bla bla about bla bla bla bla.

If we do not keep track of each and every single one of our incoming tasks in an approiate way we instantly feel overwhelmed, and even when you do get something done, it won’t feel very great, because you don’t even know exactly what you exactly you are working with.

I recommend writing things down, it could be hand written or on a computer – it doesn’t matter- but it should be in one place. A lovely moleskine journal (my favourite), or on your computer. Whatever works for you.Sit down, and make a list. Right now. Of everything you have to do, that needs to be done, that needs your attention, that needs your acknowledgement, or for your to delegate the task to another person. Just putting it all down on paper helps your mind relax instead of trying desperately to grasp onto these random fragments of information and to-do-listness.

 

10. Be productive with your time!

Nothing will give you a surge of inspiration like taking daily action towards your goals. I notice that I tend to fall into a slump when I don’t do the things I need to do. When I don’t prioritize and do what is important when it is important. I quickly fall into this habit, and before I know it, I’m doing useless things that are wasting my time, and I lose sight of my goal.

So, set yourself a challenge every morning to name your top three MOST important tasks of the day. What are the three things that you must absolutely get done? And then, the second half of the challenge is to ensure that you try your hardest to complete these tasks before 12:00pm that day.If you don’t feel that is enough time, waking up earlier is probably a good idea for you 😉

 

I hope these help you guys 🙂

I’m going to London this long weekend, where I will be reunited with my best friends EVER after over 3 years apart. I will take lots of pictures, eat lots of mind-blowingly good food, and do a lot of shopping in true malavika-style.

love

m