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When Unexpected Delays Happen, Take Advantage of Them

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When Unexpected Delays Happen, Take Advantage of Them

“All great achievements require time.”
-Maya Angelou

You have a picture in your mind of launching and selling your handcrafted meditation cushions. You can visualize your on-line shop and imagine people buying your beautiful works of art. You’ve been working your butt off to make it happen. Long days, late nights, and gallons of coffee. You visualize your goal. It’s there just over the horizon!

Most of the pieces are now in place and it should be smooth sailing!

Then, unexpectedly, everything slows down. There’s a temporary machine malfunction at the factory that produces the cloth for the cushions. You’re frantically trying to find a material replacement but, it is a no-go.

It feels like you’re butting your head against a wall. All you have for your effort is a headache.

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Yup, been there done that!

When you start a project, you set a timeline — and now that timeline has a huge speed bump in it. All effort appears to be futile. In fact, your frustration, anger, and anxiety are making things worse.

Now what?

Turn the delay to your advantage.

“The obstacle is the path”
-Zen proverb.

The above quote might remind you of other obstacles you’ve faced along the way. If you look closely, you’ll see that each one served a purpose. (Isn’t 20/20 hindsight great?)

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These apparent obstacles helped you to grow, learn, and experience different facets of life. They were neither good nor bad, but just a part of your life’s road.

In any venture you take, be it business, relationship, or pleasure, you’ll find obstacles at some point. Since they’re bound to show up,  why not take advantage of them when they do?

Below are some ways you can do that…

Focus on the meaning of being an entrepreneur.

You can take advantage of the delay by reflecting on what it means to be an entrepreneur. Merriam-Webster on line defines an entrepreneur as a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

You’ve chosen to do what you want in life. So enjoy it! See the delay for what it is…a bump in the road and an opportunity to learn something new.

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Let go of expectations.

Try to get beyond the need to hold on to how things “should be” and accept a temporary “this is what it is.” Returning to the present moment stops you from going in to the “what if” mindset. Once the need for the “should” goes, along with it goes the anxiety and pressure you feel. This clears the way for something else to appear.

Time for a break.

This may sound silly, but you may be experiencing a case of self-sabotage! Perhaps you’ve been working long hours with little sleep and your body, mind, and spirit have had enough. There is a chance you’ve inadvertently made an error that has slowed things down. Take advantage of it, and take a break to refresh. Come back with a clear mind.

Celebrate your progress.

When you’re in the midst of creating a new project, it’s easy to ignore how much you’ve accomplished. So when progress is delayed, take time to look at what you’ve done. Celebrate your accomplishments up to this point — the big ones and the little ones too. It’s okay to pat yourself on the back and feel good about what you’re doing.



Look for fresh ideas.

Often when things go wrong and you’re backed into a corner, you’re forced to discover an innovative solution. Go ahead, free up some time to find a quiet place, clear your mind and see what shows up. Take the time, it’ll be worth it.

Keep productive.

Realizing that the situation is out of your control can be very freeing. While waiting for things to move forward again, you have the time to do those things that you have been putting off: answering non-urgent emails, calling your mom, meeting with friends, or finishing that tedious task you let slip. You might even find that your productivity gets a boost.

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In all areas of life you can expect the unexpected. That doesn’t mean you sit down and bemoan your lot. No! You stop for a moment, take a look around to see what you can do and then get on with that which can be done.

Each obstacle on the path to achieving greatness can be used to learn, excel and polish your craft.

The choice is yours, stay stuck or fly! I choose to fly! How about you?

Featured photo credit: HappyMotoring/MichaelLeland via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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