Unleash Your Alter Ego: Ask These 5 Questions to Find More Time and Get More Done

Unleash Your Alter Ego: Ask These 5 Questions to Find More Time for Things That Matter Most

Learn the 5 questions YOU can ask to free up more time in your schedule.  A nasty bout with the flu unleashed my Inner Problem Solver and helped me get more done in record time.

The Flu Sounds Like a Cute Word ...But It's Not

Chicken soup?  NyQuil?  Binge-watching Netflix?

Get your favorite remedy ready because this is officially a “bad” winter for the flu.  And it’s not even even February!

Being Sick Is a Double Whammy

Being sick is no fun and can wreak havoc on the best laid plans.  

Your ailing body cries out for rest and doesn’t care that your calendar is full of meetings and appointments or that you’ve barely made a dent in your To Do list for the week.

Once we slow down a bit, we eventually start to feel better…

At least until we start going through the mental checklist of all the things that didn’t get done while we were sick.  We quickly go into survival mode—rearrange upcoming plans; try to squeeze delinquent items in wherever possible; stave off any non-essentials.

There’s another option I recently discovered:  find a better way to get those things done.  

(Admittedly, I was slow to the party on this one, but there are some lessons life forces us to learn the hard way.)

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

In early December, I was waylaid by a nasty virus. It started innocently enough—just a few coughs–and before I knew it, fever and chills set in and I was flattened.

All of the holiday activities I had planned to do–shopping for gifts, getting our tree, setting up and trimming the tree, decorating the house, Christmas cards–came screeching to a halt.

This photo is not me…though I wish I had her eyelashes!

When I started to feel better, I realized there was no way to “make-up” for the three to four days I’d lost.  

There wasn’t an option to try and shift commitments around—that Santa is very strict about December 25th being The Day.

Even more pressing? I was hosting a party for 30 people on December 9th at my home.  

I contemplated whether any item on my to-do list could be eliminated–no Christmas tree?! Perish the thought!–but didn’t get very far.   

My weakened immune system was getting tired trying to envision my favorite holiday without some of my most favorite parts.

My Alter Ego Provided New and More Creative Ways to Approach My Problem

Finally, my Inner Problem Solver had heard enough of my whimpering…and she roared to life.

Her mission was clear: create a magical Christmas experience for my family and friends…just like the other years when I wasn’t bedridden with the flu.

Inner Problem Solver pushed Whiny Girl out of the way.

In a calm, cool and collected manner, she knocked down obstacles like they were child’s toys.

Before too long, Inner Problem Solver had laid out a workable plan to save Christmas in my house…though it would require me to make significant changes to how I’d always done things. 

Yes! You Can Find a Gift in 15 Minutes. Here's How.

Here are the highlights of my plan:

  • Focus on results not activity:  Set a timer for 15 minutes.  Within the allotted time, select and order a gift for someone on my list.  Repeat as often as necessary
  • Be realistic about the scope of an activity and how long it will take to complete itenlist help to get the house decorated.   
  • Delegate where possible: have the kids put lights and ornaments on the tree without any direction from me.  After all, a decorated spruce is far better than a naked one. 
  • A leader supports her team:  remember the end product of many hands may be result in slight differences.  Be grateful and gracious.
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect to be well-done:  I’d still jot a brief note in each of the Christmas cards we sent, but would forgo lengthy greetings in the interest of time.

I love my inner Problem Solver!  😍

To be clear, the actions I took certainly were NOT the result of some brilliant insight…

Rather, it was only when I found myself with two unacceptable choices that I could even ponder doing the same tasks any differently than I’d been doing them for years.

Ask These 5 Questions to Find More Time In Your Week

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed because you have too many things to do, make a list of everything that needs doing.

Take a deep breath.

Now, let YOUR inner problem solver loose.  Ask yourself:

  • Which things would make me happiest if they were completed?
  • What would this look like if it were easy?
  • Would creating an artificial sense of urgency help me complete these tasks?
  • Are there any areas I can compromise on without the overall quality suffering?
  • Is it an option to delegate any tasks?  Am I willing to trust the results? 

Summon Your Alter Ego to Get Out of Your Own Way and On to Better Performance

Do you have an alter ego?

Inner Problem Solver has been a part of me since I was a teenager. She’s a feisty little thing who’s pretty much a bad ass. When something was vexing me—academically or otherwise–I summoned her and it was like a turbo boost of energy for my brain.

I hadn’t really given her much thought of late until I heard noted ultra-high performance expert Todd Herman promoting his new book, Alter Ego

Todd, who has worked with some of the top professional athletes and business leaders, has spent the past 15 years trying to figure out why people who have the skills and environment to succeed in a particular area sometimes fall short.

He recommends we adopt alter egos to help us get wherever we want to go.  By figuratively stepping into someone else’s shoes, we trick our minds into assuming what we perceive that person’s strengths to be.

Terrified to stand up and perform karaoke the next time you are out with your friends?  Channel your inner Beyonce, strut to the stage and belt out All the Single Ladies.

Wishing you were more patient with your kids when you walked in the door after a long day?  Mentally lace up your sneakers and let Mr. Rogers enter the house.

The podcast interview interested me enough to get to the book.  Who knows?  Maybe Inner Problem Solver needs to be unleashed more.

Create More Time in Your Life to Do the Things You Love with the People You Love

Whether one of the questions causes you to look at something differently or an alter ego becomes something you add to your repertoire, I hope that you take on the day doing things you love with the people that you love.

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