Have you ever found yourself a little short for time (running very late) and sure enough old Murphy (you know Murphy’s Law – If anything can go wrong, it will) comes in and your stress level just magnifies exponentially? You can’t find your car keys, the dog sneaks out the door without his collar or leash, you spill your coffee, your cell phone falls into the abyss between your seat and the center console of your car, you hit every single red light, there’s an accident on the highway and when you get where you’re going there’s no parking spaces. Yeah I’ve been there too. It sucks.
I hate this feeling SO.MUCH. So I work hard to prevent being stressed out by the little things. I set myself up for success. It’s a principle I learned from my days of working at Applebee’s during college. They had this concept of ‘set yourself up for success’. They were teaching us about sidework, of course. Like rolling silverware, stocking dressings, pre-bussing tables, but the concept stuck with me and coupled with a good amount of discipline, I’ve been able to put the concept into action in my personal and professional life.
Set Yourself Up for Success
A few examples of failure turned success with everyday situations.
- Forgotten Fob
Let’s a talk about that time you got to the car and realized you have no key! I have a car with keyless entry, which I love, but when you don’t need a key to open the car door and drive the car, it’s really easy to get to the car door, pull the handle, and nothing happens (GRRR) because the key fob is not in the particular bag you are carrying. Ugh that is such a drag because my townhouse is on the second floor and I usually realize I don’t have the key in the morning on the way to work when my hands are full from a YETI of tea, my laptop bag, purse, lunchbox and a sweater (it’s cold inside in Florida!) . Sure enough I moved the key to my gym (love Anytime Fitness- Lithia) bag earlier in the morning and when I stowed the gym bag in my closet before work, I didn’t move the key fob back into it’s safe spot inside my purse. This happened 3 or 4 times. I decided I needed to STOP this from happening. I do not need the stress of something so trivial. So now I am diligent about taking the car key fob out of the gym bag when I take my phone out of the gym bag and putting them BOTH on the bed. Then as I’m getting my various bags for work together, I tuck the key back into the purse before I load up and head out the door. Phew. Now every time I get to the car, the door opens when I pull the handle. Another option people use is a hook for keys or a ‘Go Box’ for keys and wallet by the door. Me? I’m a bag lady. Lots and lots of bags for every activity.
- Taming the Hangry Monster
Has mid-morning or God-forbid lunch ever rolled around and you’ve found yourself with a loudly growling stomach and no food plan? I get really hangry when I get too hungry. I am that person on the Snickers commercial. I’m grouchy and snappy, I can’t think, I can’t hear, there’s ringing in my ears, my hands start to shake and I make BAD (BAD BAD VERY BAD) food choices. It’s an all around bad situation and I’ve learned over the years for the safety of those around me, it’s best if I prevent food emergencies. I follow the principles of the Whole30, which means I don’t eat very much processed food. To succeed at not being hangry, I make sure to plan and prep my meals. I also follow the principles of Dave Ramsey so I follow a budget. For my meal prep and budget to intersect, I make a weekly meal plan, which drives a grocery list and keeps me in budget when I get to the store. People are SO GOOD at marketing their food that I would completely blow the budget EVERY time if I didn’t stick to the list. It’s not enough to just make a meal plan and buy the food… I also plan time (usually Sunday after church) to prep the food for the week. That might mean starting a complex meal for Sunday dinner that will provide lots of leftovers. Preparing a soup, baking off some sweet potatoes for breakfasts, boiling some eggs for protein on the go and whipping up something to make a quick lettuce wrap sandwich for those nights I ditch the meal plan in favor of being lazy.
- And I Need it By…
How many times has the deadline for that very large project snuck up on you and you’ve had to put everything else on hold, stay late, arrive early, and cancel meetings to get it done? Isn’t that the worst feeling? I mean don’t get me wrong, my son is a procrastinator who seems to thrive under the pressure of a deadline he has put off. Me? NO. WAY. I do NOT like the stress of being crunched for time. I also don’t like being overwhelmed by LARGE projects. I tackle big projects by breaking them down into smaller parts and deadlines are conquered by setting timelines. I estimate the resources needed to complete the smaller parts and back my timeline out of my deadline. Then, I get the large project on my schedule one or two smaller parts at a time and tackle those right up until the project is complete.
- The Perpetual To Do’s
Do you have those great ideas on your To Do list that never seem to get done because someone else isn’t asking for them? I get so tired of looking at them or frustrated because often they are the most fun projects that never make their way to my To Do list. So what do I do? I give them deadlines. I make them a priority and you know what? They get done.
- OOH I Really Want To…
Have you ever been reading an article, surfing FaceBook or Twitter, listening to the radio, browsing a magazine and come across something you want to do, but now is not the right time to do it? How do you remember to go back to that thing? This happens to me ALL the time. I’m a little ADD so I could easily head down every rabbit hole (follow every distraction or good idea) and never get anything done. It would be SO EASY for me to do that, but I don’t. Instead I have various places where I tuck these ‘things to remember’ – on an article list, as appointments on my calendar at times I know I have time (with reminders), sticky notes, Evernote, my work project list, my daily schedule (on days I know I will have time). Doing this has allowed me to have something to read on the treadmill every day I am at the gym, something to listen to on the way to work, webinars get watched, gifts get bought, stores get visited, items get ordered and my brain is free and clear of the clutter of having to remember and the disappointment in realizing I forgot. Write it down, come back to it later.
- Poor Kitty
I have three cats. Two of them are sisters who were great hunters when we lived in the country and they loved going outside. Townhome living is not conducive to outdoor cats (as exhibited by the nastygram I got from the HOA), but I do have a balcony and one cat who I trust not to go all kamikaze and jump off the balcony. So far she hasn’t even attacked any of the birds who frequent our feeder (although she does lay UNDER the feeder). I enjoy spending time out on my balcony, especially mornings and it’s nice to have Pumpkin’s company. The problem is, if I go back inside, she often wants to stay out there. That’s no big deal if I’m just puttering around the house, but some times my puttering turns into leaving to run an errand and low and behold we find the cat out there several hours later asking for the door. Oops! BAD PARENT. This happened a few times and I felt horrible. Especially if it was 90+ degrees out. I’m sure she wanted to get into the A/C and take a nap. Poor kitty! I quickly learned if I was going to come in and she was going to stay out, I needed a trigger to remind me to bring her in. Before work it’s easy to remember her because I give everyone a treat before I leave. They all come running when they hear me getting into the treats, I notice she isn’t there, I let her in. Easy. But on weekends I don’t always remember to do the treats and that’s how she gets forgotten. So I had to think of a different trigger. Now when I come in and she stays out, I hang my purse on the slider door. That way when I’m done puttering and dash out for an errand, I remember to safely bring her inside.
We only have 24-hours in a day. I don’t know about you, but I have got much bigger fish to fry than forgotten fobs and poor kitties. Take some time TODAY to think about those trivial stressors in your life that you can tame with a few simple triggers or processes. It’s time to stop kicking yourself for these stressors invading your zen and set yourself up for success. You can do it! Go. Now.