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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Guthrie

Commit 30's 7 Ways to Keep Your Life Together During This Challenging Time

Wake up each morning with a plan in place to look forward to accomplishing each day.


I'm a planner. I firmly believe prior planning prevents poor performance. I'm not sure where this phrase originated from but I heard it years ago while interviewing a candidate on HOMTV. I've heard it several times since and it only makes sense. It's very similar to backtiming a TV show, only it's backtiming your day, week, month or year.

I have gigantic post it notes on the walls of my office charting out the weeks and months ahead. I have a planner next to my computer with my daily and weekly personal 'to do' list on it. While at HOMTV, one of the most valuable professional skills I learned was to backtime. I used this in my every day life and helps keep me centered and focused; especially during these uncertain times. Last January, when I began to think about launching my own company, way before I launched it, I started planning for that next move and backtiming what I needed to do to get there.

Backtiming is when a TV show producer backtimes a newscast or program. They literally backtime each minute of the show for every story and segment of the newscast. As Executive Producer of HOMTV, I planned several shows, backtiming not only newscasts but large segments for various programs and interviews. Back then, we did not have a software program to backtime shows so I worked with our IT Department and created an excel spreadsheet to input each story, break, anchor lead and tag, etc. This was a tremendous tool to use on election night when we had hundreds of segments for a 5 to 6 hour long live broadcast delivering election night results to our viewing audience.

Back then, we would get the results first and people would be tuned in all over the community; including local bars and restaurants to hear the results. This has been part of my planning mantra in everything I do from tackling home projects to yard work to getting out of financial debt, to launching a company to where I am at today in running for local office.

When you count backwards from the top of the hour; you are basically goal planning on a much more microscopic scale. Wether it is a major upcoming event or personal goal setting; backtiming prepares you for what needs to get done beforehand so you can have success along the way which ultimately leads to success on the big date.

The reason why I firmly believe in communications and communications is key in any business, is because you must not only plan for success but have your communications pieces in place and ready to go at a moments notice.

Most messaging can be written in advance with brand on top of mind, and have on the ready. But when a crisis or emergency happens, those events can throw you for a loop if you are not prepared and ready. As a Crisis Communicator, having messaging and a media relations plan is paramount for success. While communication messaging may not be specific during a crisis, we knew that if an emergency or crisis were to happen, we we would be ready to communicate an emergency message or crisis and have the tools ready when necessary.

We created several communication pieces and put plans in place and on the ready when needed in case of a fire, flood, oil spill, water contamination, biohazard, etc. This is the heart of the essential communicator and it must be timely. During these uncertain times, while we may have been thrown into a loop and trying to beat #covid19 #alonetogether, we know that we need to try to stay on task and stay the course as best we can while maintaining #socialdistancing and being there for one another.

I own a Commit 30 Planner. It was one of the first items I bought in 2019 when I started thinking of launching my company. I began planning getting out of debt and creating my company. It helped me commit to accomplishing those two things and seeing those ideas through. Without a plan, an idea is just an idea.

My planner is now on gigantic sticky notes on every wall of my #homeoffice to keep me on track and on task. My Commit 30 planner has my daily and weekly goals listed leading up to the August 4, 2020 Primary; a very big day for me. In order to succeed, backtiming segments of my day leading up to that date is very important. While the coronovirus pandemic has the health, safety and welfare of our friends and family first and foremost on our minds and in our hearts, we need to remember to take care of ourselves and to continue planning for success. This is why the 15 day and 30 day #stayhomestaysafe order was so important to adhere to and why we need to focus our attention on helping each other and what we can personally plan to collectively succeed.

This morning I opened my inbox and saw an email message from Commit 30 that resonated with me and I knew immediately that I wanted to share with you. Here are Commit 30's 7 Ways to Keep Your Life Together This Challenging Time (in bold) and how I've been trying to commit to this through planning and backtiming my day. Like you, I am managing several at-home itineraries during this time and to remind ourselves that keeping it together is most important to succeed.

From Commit 30: 7 WAYS to keep your life together during this challenging time:

1. Schedule the most important things first. What’s your #1 priority today? (I like to use our TODAY notepad/insert to break it done one day at a time for this or our weekly homeschool planner printable).

I have a daily note sheet inserted in my planner. My weekly goals and monthly goals through August are posted on my wall. My weekly planning is scheduled in my planner and on my wall in big, bold lettering.

2. Make time for daily self-care. Stick with your healthy habits & positive daily routines as much as possible. My morning meditation practice & routine has been a god-send.

We moved our patio furniture from the sunroom to our back deck, I've converted this space into my yoga studio. While not as committed to doing yoga, I do practice daily meditation in this space and routinely lift small weights. I also fixed several of my wind chimes I received from a dear friend and hung them in front of each window for some extra zen.

3. Move your body daily. There has never been a better time to take care of our health. There are tons of free workouts on youtube or inexpensive streaming options online. Peloton is offering new users a free 90-day trial (you don’t need their bike or even a bike to take advantage of this offer). I’ve been loving this streaming class. Now is as good of time as ever to get on track with your health goals. I'm using our fitness journal to plan meals, track workouts and stay committed.

A blessing in disguise has been daily walks with my husband and my dog. Since the Michigan weather has turned nicely into Spring, we're walking twice daily. We don't need this written in our planner. The warmth of the sun and my dogs adorable face is the only motivation we need to get our body moving daily.

4. Schedule time in your planner to chat with friends. My tribe & I have been having weekly zoom calls and it has helped so much to remain connected during this stay home period.

I have to admit, I have not scheduled time with friends other then to check in on them from time to time to make sure they are healthy and if they need anything. I need to schedule some face time and phone calls with friends into my weekly routine. Meeting up with my friends is one of the things I miss doing the most.

5. Use this time at home to get something done (decluttering your house, painting a wall, starting a small garden, finishing a creative project that you started but didn’t finish). You don’t need to write the next great American novel during this time (don’t pressure yourself) but you can check some smaller projects off the list.

We've gone all out on this one! I'm sure you have to. The first project we tackled was completely cleaning out our basement, reorganizing it and turning it into a home gym.

Last week we decluttered our master bedroom; vacuuming and dusting every nook and cranny. On the planned schedule for this week is to go through our clothes selecting items for donation. I've already reached out to a couple of local organizations to see if they need anything and will be ready when they do.

Also on the agenda is cleaning up the yard and doing a little landscape project. We had to replace a crumbled sidewalk and now the landscaping needs a little bit of work.

6. Practice gratitude. Lots of reminding myself what I am grateful for. It pulls me back to my center every time, even in the midst of chaos.

THIS! Each day I am grateful. Weekly I commit to sharing motivational gratitude posts on my Instagram account.

7. Help others. Whether its volunteering at the food bank or dropping off a meal for a friend in need, helping others is the best way to feel better.

The most important thing I do each day is call my mom, chat with her and see if she needs anything. Pictured above is my husband and I delivering a care package to my mom. Most of them include a game and a puzzle as well as some basic necessities.

The other most important thing I do each day is to be there for my husband who has been unemployed since March 12. It is incredibly important that I be his cheerleader and champion during this time. This morning he's been in my office four times, make that five, and that is ok if it takes me a little longer to get work done and respond to people. His welfare is most important as we get through this together.

From my home to yours, I hope you are staying safe and healthy. We will get through this together. John Maxwell writes in his Leadership Handbook; "Success is when others join our cause." So lets backtime our way to success, lets plan our days to give us something to look forward to, lets communicate our plans and lets succeed alone together.

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