How to navigate your busy daily life: strategies you can start using TODAY

Posted by Olena Mytruk

Do you want to learn life strategies that will allow you to navigate your day-to-day life toward happiness and success? Do you want to overcome constant stress and overwhelm? Do you want to stop feeling guilty for prioritizing one area of your life and neglecting all others?

If yes, then you need new life strategies – because the old ones simply don’t work anymore.

And the best part is – you can start using these strategies today.

But before we dive into what they are, I want to address two common problems that we need to resolve in order to move forward.

“Why do I struggle to navigate my busy life?”

Problem #1 – Your life is dynamic and complicated

We live in a world of busyness, stress, and overwhelm. We live in a world where probably 90% of us have experienced burnout at least once in life.

Once we realized that it is an issue, we decided to correct it.

And I think we have overcorrected.

Here’s what I mean by that.

Word “hard working” became a negative quality. Being busy is automatically seen as a bad thing.

We talk about mindfulness, we talk about setting priorities, we talk about understanding what’s important in life, and it is awesome – with just one caveat.

I think way too often we see things as an absolute. There is a famous saying that no one on their deathbed ever said, “Oh I wish I’d spent more time at work.” And what it implies is that work is not important, and instead you should have spent more time with your family, traveling, or doing other, more important things.

And I completely agree with that, don’t get me wrong…

But it’s not black and white, it’s not an absolute, not one or the other.

Our lives are way too complicated, sophisticated, and dynamic for anything to be an absolute.

Yes, family is important. And personal space is important, and hobbies are important, and work is important. All these things are important, otherwise they wouldn’t be part of your life to begin with!

Each one of us has our own unique life landscape? It may be kids, spouses, studying, career, business, hobbies, fitness, health, or any combination of all those things. It can also be communities, environment, other social life aspects, extended family. There might be all different types of areas of life, and all of them are important.

We need to recognize that each and every part of our life is important, and what matters more is what is more important right now – at this specific moment in time. Because as I said, our life is very dynamic. Things change constantly, and it’s not about what is an absolute priority, it is about what is a priority today.

So, it is not one or the other, it is about how I actually balance all these different things.

Here are the real questions to ask yourself:

How do I really understand what takes priority now?
Why does it take priority now?
How can I can make sure that other important things will also eventually take priority?

Problem #2 – You are trying to follow a static plan

It’s going to be a very nerdy story haha, so I apologize in advance to those of you who have nothing to do with software engineering or project management. I will try to not bore you too much.

Back in 1970, a so-called waterfall approach to software engineering was introduced. The idea was that if you want to create a new software product, you need to follow several sequential phases. First, you sit down, you break down the requirements, you understand what it is that you’re building, and you design your product. Then you do the actual implementation, then testing, and then finally you roll it out to production.

It wasn’t uncommon for these projects to take years. And so teams would spend 3-4 months designing the product, then maybe 9 to 12 months implementing that product, then spending another 3 months testing, and then finally rolling it out. Which means that a complete product would go to production 1.5-2 years after the original idea was created.

It was the mainstream approach to software development until 2001, when 17 smart people got together and agreed that this approach was not working anymore.

They all agreed that the world was too fast changing, and too dynamic for any project to become successful with such a long lifecycle.

Whatever idea you have today, in 2 years it will likely not be valid anymore.

Things will change so drastically in the next 2 years that whatever you design and spend millions of dollars implementing will be a complete waste of time, effort and money.

So what these people decided to do instead is come up with a more flexible, iterative approach – so it is possible to test fast, fail fast, get feedback fast, and adjust fast. They wanted to create an approach that would allow the companies to adjust to change.

The new approach was called Agile, and it quickly became a new mainstream. These days most of the companies, and not just technology companies, use Agile methodology.

Because they know that in order to remain competitive in today’s market, they have to stay flexible, to be ready to adapt, adjust and ready to respond to change.

And here’s why why I am telling you this story.

More than 20 years ago, smart people already realized that, in the business world, they need to be flexible in order to survive and to thrive.

So why do we keep believing that, in the personal world, it is still enough to follow “waterfall” approaches?

Why are we being so naive, that we can create a static plan and then simply follow that plan and be successful?

That’s just never gonna happen.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Let’s accept the fact that things will constantly be changing, new things will constantly be piling on our plate, we’ll be getting new information, some new priorities will constantly be popping up.

There is no chance that we can sustain a plan no matter how perfect we think this plan is!

I personally fell in this trap too. Earlier this year, I was getting overwhelmed with work, and so I decided to come up with a plan. I split my tasks between multiple weeks, I created this perfect 12-week plan, and I felt very good about myself.

I thought that I finally had a handle on it. I thought I knew what I would need to focus on every week.

Well, it worked for about a week – until something unexpected came up and I began to fall behind.

The further it went, the more invalid that plan became, and the harder it was to maintain that plan.

And when that happens, you spend many hours trying to redesign that plan, trying to get back on track, trying to reset. Only to find out a week later that your plan is outdated, again.

I used to think that something was wrong with me. Until one day I realized that nothing is actually wrong with me.

Instead, things are wrong with us believing that our lives can follow some static plan.

But that’s just not true.

Our lives are way too dynamic, way too sophisticated, and way too multifaceted for any static plan to ever be able to represent it.

And it is why I believe that we need a new approach. A new way to really balance our life. To really navigate all the challenges that we have to deal with every day, so that we can actually succeed without feeling like we are constantly falling behind.

Life strategies to manage your busy life

I like to break down my approach into 5 key life strategies.

1 – See the whole picture

You need to recognize the complexity of your life and to see the whole life landscape, rather than only seeing some fragmented pieces or parts of it.

What does this means?

You have work to do, and you have family to take care of. You have your personal needs and you have your social life. You have your hobbies, and you want to travel and see the world. You want to take care of your physical and mental health.

All these, and many more, are the important areas of your life.

These are all the facets of your life, and you need to be aware of them because only when you are aware of what you are dealing with, you can actually deal with it.

Only when you see the holistic picture, you can make sure that whatever takes priority today doesn’t become your only priority. Only when you are aware of your full life landscape, you can truly balance everything and not let anything get completely forgotten.

2 – Make the most out of your life today

It is very important that you make the most out of your life today rather than waiting for things to get better in the future.

You want to make sure that you are living you life to the fullest in the moment, that you are being present in this moment, that you appreciate and recognize all the good things that are happening to you today – because there are good things that are happening.

Be sure to recognize your strengths and your qualities, and celebrate them.

Because it’s not just going to help you create positive experiences and make you happier in the moment. It will also help you long term because it will allow you to broaden your vision.

It will help you see the opportunities that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see.

When you fixate on the end result too much, you actually narrow your focus. You lose that broader vision, and you stop seeing those opportunities around you. As a result, you miss those opportunities that arise.

And on the other hand, when you are fully present in the moment, when you create positive experiences and celebrate them, you broaden your vision, and you begin to see all these different opportunities, alternative paths and creative solutions.

3 – Create a vision instead of a plan

You want to know where you are heading. You want to have a clear picture in your mind of what a dream life looks like for you.

You need this picture so you can check back with it from time to time to make sure that you are still moving in the right direction.

Be prepared that you will likely want to tweak this picture from time to time, because, as you move forward, you will realize that things that you thought were important might not be as important anymore. And vice versa.

The beauty of having a vision instead of a plan is that it doesn’t dictate what you are going to do today.

It allows you to stay flexible and to be ready to respond to change whenever that change is required.

4 – Maximize your strengths

You need to start actively using your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses.

Because, let’s face it, way too often we focus on where we failed, what we did wrong, where we could have done better.

But when was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back said, “Hey, what a good job you did here! You’re so strong, you’re so brave, you are so creative, you’re so curious, you’re so honest.”

These are all your strengths, and you already have them.

So the only question is – are you aware of those strengths, and are you actually using them to navigate your daily life?

A good starting point is to begin spotting strengths in yourself and others. Whenever you do something that makes you feel proud or accomplished, or whenever you see someone do something that you respect, ask yourself, “What strength(s) did I / they use in this situation?

I know it takes practice, that’s why I host regular group strength spotting sessions inside the Life Design Academy to help you get used to this exercise.

And by the way, there is a cool byproduct of you knowing about and using your strengths – your confidence level increases significantly.

Because confidence arises not from you having some qualities or abilities, but from you recognizing and appreciating those qualities and abilities.

So, once you begin to see those strengths in yourself, it will automatically raise your level of self confidence, which is going to help you navigate your life.

5 – Be flexible

I said it before and will say it again. If you want to successfully navigate your busy life, it is absolutely essential that you stay flexible and are ready to respond to change, instead of sticking to a predefined static path.

It is very important that you give yourself permission to adjust in the moment based on what is happening in your life today, without feeling pressured to stick to a plan that you created a long time ago.

You have freedom to choose.

So feel free to adjust, to adapt, to make decisions, or to change them. Because this is what life is all about – it is about continuously making decisions based on what is best for you today.

I know that these strategies work, because I personally use them in my daily life.

And I strongly believe that, in the world of busyness, stress and overwhelm, they are the only way to actually navigate your life toward true happiness and success.

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