How to get stuff done and manage time during uncertainty

I’ve been able to manage time during uncertainty and get things done–thanks to my clients. Over the years, I pieced together the many “secrets” they each shared with me to create easy systems that guide my life. In the coming year, I promise to share these with you.

Photo by Mira Kemppainen

A bit of backstory

Since 2008, I’ve been learning alongside each of my coaching clients. Each one was candid about their worries and struggles. I suggested things to try from research or literature I’ve read. They would field test suggestions, and so would I. We tweaked and gained insights together.

By 2015, I shared some of what I learned in a quick-read ebooklet, The Lighthouse Method*.

Then in late 2017, a series of bad things began to happen in my personal life. The most devastating was my younger daughter’s cancer diagnosis. Thankfully, she is a survivor now; she and her older sister challenge me in “normal” adolescent ways.

But, I’m still knee-deep in long-distance elder care.

There were times in the last four years, I was angry life was pelting me with chest-crushing boulders. Or, I was helpless, wanting only to cling to pillows and hide in bed.

I know you know the feeling.

Your experiences are, of course, different. No need to play “Pain Olympics.” Wounds hurt.

What got me through, time and again, was the collective wisdom of my clients. I knew what to focus on and what to ignore. I developed simple systems that help me inch forward even though I didn’t know where I was heading.

To be clear, I’m not talking about “toxic positivity.” And, I deplore euphemisms like, “Things happen for a reason” or “God only gives you what you can handle.”

How to manage time during uncertainty

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned was during times of uncertainty–times when you can’t see where you’re headed or don’t know what you want to do with your life–you can’t set goals or make plans. Conventional advice just doesn’t work.

There are three key parts:

First, instead of setting goals, resolutions, or working towards outcomes, you need a streamlined time-management system that helps you focus on the right tasks:

  • What is within your control,
  • Things you can do right now, and
  • What is meaningful to YOU

Second, rather than “lean in” or go it alone, learn how to lean on others but again focus on select relationships in the many pockets of your life. Often this requires tuning out a lot of noise and distractions from individuals you once thought were important.

Third, neither wallow nor sugarcoat. But, celebrate all small wins–not just the good things that happen to you or occur because it’s your birthday or holiday. Don’t forget what you or your loved ones make happen, as tiny as they may seem.

What’s next

I’ve been fortunate to witness smart and caring women in the direst circumstances get things done. They didn’t know where they were going when they started, but as Steve Jobs said, they can look back to “connect the dots.

In the coming year, I promise to share more of the dots I can connect now–all of the systems and shortcuts I’ve gleaned.

As always, I’m grateful for your presence in my life. I’d love to hear what you might try, what rings true to you, or what could be better.

Last but not least, I wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday season that carries through to the new year.

*If you are on an iPhone and want to purchase this ebooklet, please use the browser on your phone and not the Amazon app. If you use the link to make a purchase, Life Junctions receives a small commission, a portion of which is donated to organizations that support women and girls like New York Women’s Foundation and Girl Scouts USA. Thank you!