Karla’s Anxiety Management Plan, Or How to Stop Dithering and Actually Get the Work Done

I’ve been blogging on and off for years.  Some versions of my blog have disappeared – some have become inaccessible for inexplicable (to me) tech reasons – one long series of posts I can still read but not modify.  Those posts from 4-5 years ago I will maybe look at and pick the best to republish here.  This is the first.

Mindfulness Check

Several times throughout the day, take a moment to stop.  What am I feeling?  Thinking?  Doing?  Use a brief relaxation technique to calm and quiet self.  Breathe.  Listen to the body.  Listen to the universe.

Priority Review

Do I know my priority*?  Am I working on my priority, taking a planned break, or doing routine self-care**?  Or am I dithering, by:

  • Not doing anything
  • Mindless avoidance—eating junk food, wasting time online, etc.
  • Doing something good but other than the priority

Do I want a break before I attend to my priority?  If so, take a break.

Then DO IT

*Priority Planning

Review goals weekly for each of the working areas of my life:

  • Family and home
  • Personal health
  • Psychology practice
  • Writing

Plan daily tasks with the following in mind.  Focus on 1 and 2, minimizing 3 and 4 [this idea stolen from Stephen Covey]:

  1. Urgent and important
  2. Important but not urgent
  3. Urgent but not important
  4. Neither important nor urgent

Review daily tasks for the areas each morning and/or evening.

**Routine Self-Care

Morning exercise (stationary bike, weights, stretches)
Meal planning/prep
Mindfulness checks
Breaks during the day:

  • Meditation
  • Nap
  • Gardening
  • Music
  • Reading
  • Hot tub
  • Journaling
  • Talking
  • Online

Evening exercise (walking, swimming, dancing)

Update: An enormous caveat for this type of plan is that it doesn’t work while caring for small children.  In that case (as I know by experience), everything is interruptable.   One gets in the mental habit of being always available, of one’s tasks and goals always taking second place to others’ needs.  The alternative (as I also know by experience) is to be constantly grumpy and resentful of interruptions.  I do not know the solution, except to share childcare responsibilities with a trustworthy partner who respects one’s work time, and/or to work outside the home.

The other difficulty, and one which I am attempting to overcome with this plan, is that the mental habit of being constantly available remains even after the children are old enough not to need hovering supervision.  It isn’t just laziness, flightiness, or an inability to focus; it is the after-effect of a formerly functional way of being.  But the result is the same – dithering.

Plan created during a quarterly Professional Women’s Alliance retreat several years ago.  Thanks to Amy and Betsy for helping me with it.

This entry was posted in Behavior Change, Health and Wellness, Mindfulness, Self-help. Bookmark the permalink.

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