How to Get Unstuck When You Don’t Have Much Time

Many smart and caring women assume you can’t get unstuck when you don’t have much time. In a previous post, I promised to share how to stop making plans and stop beating yourself up. The first step is to stop waiting for large chunks of time; here is the second step (Part 3 in the series), the third step (Part 4), and the fourth step (Part 5).

I know you’re thinking…

  • My [child(ren)] is/are struggling. She/he/they need me.
  • I’m the primary caregiver of an elder adult and caring for him/her/them has become more challenging.
  • We’re shorthanded at work, I’m doing way more than my share.
  • My community is struggling. I have to help them.

And, because you are smart and caring, you’ve set aside your own priorities. You’re waiting for a better time to focus on yourself:

  • When G graduates…
  • When L feels better…
  • When the pandemic is over…
  • When R enters a good assisted living arrangement…
  • When we hire more staff..You can

Reasons to stop waiting for large chunks of time:

But, in my experience, for smart and caring women, time doesn’t free up so easily. It’s challenging to free up large blocks in a busy schedule.

And, even when it does happen, that large chunk of time can do more harm because it’s challenging to use. Our brains are not capable of doing challenging, concentrated, deep work for extended periods of time. Even those who do so regularly, like musicians who practice every day, hit a wall after two hours.

In essence, you’re asking yourself to run a marathon when you haven’t done any sprints.

Moreover, you’re likely to have glorified that large time block. You’ve been dreaming about all that you’ll accomplish. Your expectations will be high and unrealistic. This leaves room for more disappointment and guilt to seep in, which can keep you stuck.

Tips on how to get unstuck when you don’t have much time

You can accomplish a lot with tiny bits of time.

I can say this with confidence because I’ve watched my clients do it and have done it myself. (On the #amwriting podcast, I described how I (finally) broke into the New York Times despite being interrupted every 20 minutes while caring for my daughter.)

First, set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Do it now.

Second, block out the chatter, by using your name and telling yourself…

  • M, you can give yourself 5 minutes.
  • J, you won’t be stuck forever. You’ve got this!
  • B, you don’t need a plan, you just need to add this tiny thing to your daily routine.
  • R, the fact that you’re so busy, gives you great training ground to practice baby steps.

Third, sit in silence. Give yourself a moment to think. Shut out everyone else’s voice but your own. The key is to try to listen to your own thoughts and feelings.

Finally, when the timer rings, write down on a piece of paper one thought/idea/feeling that came to mind. What did you say to yourself? Write it down. If several popped up, write that resonated the most.

If what resonated the most happened to be negative or discouraging, that’s ok. Simply, cross it out or draw a line through it.

Repeat the above tomorrow. If you’ve done it a few times, reward yourself by getting a nice notebook and start doing this there. (I personally love But, be careful, if you’re anything like me, you can burn time fast on that website!)

Your turn

This exercise may seem so tiny, you may, at first, deem it useless.

But, what it does is build up those muscles for you to be able to use small chunks of time effectively.

Moreover, it also boosts your confidence because it trains you to listen to yourself. And, I know you have wisdom within you that is worth exploring.

Embrace small chunks of time. Believe you can learn to do a lot in a small amount of time.

And, don’t forget to let me know how it goes!

This post is the second in a series. Read the first one, the third, the fourth and the fifth. Don’t miss future articles by subscribing to my newsletter.