While Drake says:
Yeah, back and forth across the borderline
Hate to leave the city but I’ve got to do the overtime
Gone all the time, even the important times
The point is, most of us are busy. We’re constantly sacrificing one thing for another while life continues to march on. Life is imperfect, we’re imperfect and, therefore, we can get distracted and disrupted from our regularly scheduled programming or plans.
Whether it’s moving to a new city, starting a new job or schedule, a relationship beginning/ending/in turmoil or too much work at once, we all get disrupted. It happens.
While prevention is important, it’s also imperfect. You will get out of sync and offbeat, it happens to everyone. The problem occurs when we bad habits accumulate and suddenly we’re further and further off. The key, then, is to get back on track as quickly and easily as possible. You can take measures to ensure it doesn’t happen or doesn’t last long.
Here are four ways to disrupt your schedule disruption:
Have a go-to Routine
Think of a golfer or a basketball player at the free throw line. If you watch any basketball game, when a shooter misses a free throw, he does the exact same thing every time. He low-fives his teammates, mimes a couple practice shots, dribbles the ball and then shoots again.
Every. Single. Time.
It’s the same with a golfer, the set up for a shot, whether he just eagled the last hole or double-bogeyed it is exactly the same from the practice swings to the setup. Even if a fan yells or a loud cheer breaks their concentration they reset and go through their routine again.
These athletes use their set up and routine to get their mind right. It doesn’t matter what happened previously because their routine, even if it’s 5-10 seconds, resets their mind and their body to get back on track.
By incorporating a routine, whether it’s exercise, meditation or journaling, it can make the difference between a few days of disruption or a few years. The routine can be whatever you want to be, it’s not about the actions so much as what they represent. Establishing and executing a routine resets your mind and allows you to fight distraction.
Have a mantra.
I feel we can get too caught up in finding motivation rather than focussing on just getting things done. If you need a YouTube video to motivate you through every workout, you’re going to falter. However, I also think that mantras and maxims are great tools to focus one’s mind. I am a reader (if not an ardent follower) of stoicism. If you are looking for one catch-all book for maxims, look no further than Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. The book is full of short passages, here are a few:
Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
Your mantras can come from anywhere. As long as it works for you.
“Go slow to go fast.”
Which means instead of rushing through a task and life to get them done, focussing on what I am doing, taking my time and doing my best work will pay more dividends than getting the most things done. By going slow and taking one’s time, you will eventually get further ahead.
Again, like a routine, your mantra can be whatever you want, however simple, complex or silly, it’s about what it represents to you. A symbol to reset and realign. It could be as old as Aurelius or as new and simple as light-hearted as Finding Nemo’s “Just keep swimming.” as long as it gets your mind in the right place.
Reduce don’t Remove
Whether it’s your social life or something else …. Try not to remove it entirely, keep your good habits going even if they’re not done at their usual volume or speed. Even if you’re used to exercising an hour a day or meditating twice a day, or perhaps taking time out of your day to write or work on a side hustle. In every case something is always going to be better than nothing.
Take 15 minutes to exercise, or meditate every second day. Take an hour out of your week to write or work rather than one out of every day. Doing a little bit will go a long way.
That way, when you’re ready to get back on track, get back on schedule and go hard on everything you’ve let slip, you’re not facing a big a deficit as before. It’s going slow to go fast. You may not be further ahead, but you’re not as far behind as you could have been.
Eat right and exercise
I am tempted to put eat right or exercise and the truth is I am much more likely to choose exercise over eating right in a pinch but these two go hand in hand. When we get off track, when our schedule gets out of line, these are two of things that tend to fall by the wayside. However, they can also be two of the most integral in terms of focus, energy levels, mood, etc.
Aim for 45-60 minutes 4 times a week, depending on the intensity levels for exercise and when it comes to food, aim for fruits and lots of vegetables plus lean meats.
Without a lot of time on hand, you’re more likely to go for the cheap and quick foods and forego exercise because there’s not enough time. However, you’ll find that even at your busiest, if you’re able to maintain your diet and exercise, the time you take out of your day to do so will pay back with interest. Don’t make excuses.
Go back to it. Every time. Like a golfer setting up after a bad hole or a bad round, find your routine, get a mantra to get you going and take care of your health. You are going to fall and fail. It’s not about never making a mistake or never getting off track. Things will pull us from our routine, we cannot let them pull us for long.
Work, life, relationships or the 2016 Euros, all of these things and more can distract and if you’re a creature of habit, this can be detrimental. By incorporating these practices you’ll be less likely to get disrupted and ready to rebound if you are off track.
Just keep swimming.