Time Management Tips For Real Divorce Recovery

Life is crazy enough without having to deal with divorce recovery. Learn how to make it easier.

When I got divorced in 2002, I thought that after the decree was signed by the judge everything would be better. I’d somehow magically be over all of the pain, fear, anger and disorganization that seemed to have overtaken my life. But, as you’ve probably guessed, the divorce decree wasn’t quite the magic wand I was hoping for. 

It took me more than a year to really get myself feeling good again. There were just so many changes in my life and I didn’t have a great way for absorbing all them, given the demands of a life I was already dealing with. I wound up procrastinating instead of doing things. My house was a wreck. I hardly had any food in the kitchen, but that didn’t matter because I didn’t eat much. My health was deteriorating. I was hardly sleeping. I think I was running on adrenaline, caffeine, sugar and not much else. Bottom line: I was exhausted and falling behind on everything.

I found my way out of the mess divorce created in my life, but it wasn’t a simple task. I had to decide what was really important to me. I had to change the way I did things. And I had to change the way I thought about things.

It wasn’t until I found my way out of the mess that I was able to look back at where I’d been and realized that there’s a big piece of divorce that no one talks about. Real divorce recovery requires that you change how you live your life, that you examine your priorities, and that you do things you might never have done before or you become comfortable with letting some things go. This piece of divorce recovery that no one talks about is what I call The Functional Divorce because how you function and simply just are in the world changes when you get divorced.

One of the most important pieces of The Functional Divorce is developing a time management system that works for you. Yes, time management. When you’re going through divorce it’s so easy to lose track of time to the rollercoaster ride of unpredictable emotions — shock, denial, grief, anger, loneliness, etc. Heck, the emotional ride is exhausting, but in the midst of all of this turmoil there are certain things that must be done. You’ve got to continue working, caring for the kids, caring for the pets, caring for your aging parents, and caring for your home to name just a few. On top of all that you’ve got to deal with the legal process of divorce which is probably unfamiliar to you AND you’ve got to figure out how to do all of the things that your former spouse used to do. You might now need to deal with car repairs, keeping up with the kids’ schedules, making meals, finding a new place to live, selling your home, moving… Your life was full before the divorce and now you’ve got even more stuff heaped on your overflowing plate of responsibilities and which just adds to your overall sense of exhaustion. 

By carefully managing your time, you’ll be able to more easily navigate all the tasks and emotions of divorce, and more quickly achieve real divorce recovery — which means you’ll be able to get on to living the best of your life sooner.

Yes, it’s simple to say that time management is one of the necessities of real divorce recovery. But adding one more task, to figure out time management, probably doesn’t seem to be exactly what you need right now. So, to help you develop your system, here are the top 5 time management tips for real divorce recovery that I used for myself, and that I teach my clients. 

Time management tip #1: Make friends with your timer. One of the realities of divorce is the need to do things you don’t want to do, or even feel energetic enough to start. This is where using a timer is one of the best time management tips I can give you. Make an agreement with yourself that you can handle anything for just 15 minutes (or 10 or even 5 if that’s all you can handle). Set your timer and then laser focus on getting that one task done. The task can be anything: putting together information your attorney has asked for. It can be allowing yourself to cry. It can even be researching where to buy tires or putting together a grocery list. Giving yourself the gift of this time to focus on just one task at a time is one of the most effective ways to get through your functional divorce and experience real divorce recovery. 

Besides getting things done, there are other benefits to using your timer. Setting a timer eliminates the need for you to watch the clock which will allow you to focus completely on your task. As soon as the timer rings, you can then choose to continue working on the task or stop and congratulate yourself for moving things forward. As you make better friends with your timer, an amazing thing starts to happen. You’ll start to feel a sense of accomplishment. When you feel better about what you’re getting done, you’ll actually start to feel better about yourself too! How’s that for a reason to make friends with your timer?

Time management tip #2: It’s oh-so-easy to spend time doing things that may not be the most important things to get done. So prioritizing what needs to be done is the second of my best time management tips. One of the ways I’ll often teach this tip is by asking people to think about each task on two different scales. The first scale is Urgent vs. Not Urgent. To determine the urgency of a task you can ask yourself questions like: What is the deadline for this task? Is life or limb at risk? The second scale is Important vs. Not Important. To determine the importance of a task you can ask yourself questions like: What impact will completing this task have 10 years from now? What impact will completing this task have 1 year from now? What impact will completing this task have 1 month from now? What impact will completing this task have 1 week from now? What impact will completing this task have one 1 day from now.  What impact will completing this task have 1 hour from now? 

The key to this method of prioritization is to focus on the tasks that rank highest on both the urgent and important scales first. Using this method for prioritizing all of your tasks might seem daunting at first, but it might also be a great thing to share with your new friend the timer!

Time management tip #3: Just because a task has both a high urgency and is greatly important doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re the one who should be doing it. The third of my time management tips is Do, Delegate or Dump. If you’re the only person that can do the task, then you’re stuck with it. It’s time to roll up your sleeves, set your timer and get it done. Generally speaking, if the task is something that you can ask someone to do and have confidence that they’ll do it at least 80 percent as effectively as you can do it, or it’s something that you just don’t have the expertise for, then it’s a great candidate for delegating. Some of the tasks that make perfect sense to delegate are drafting your divorce decree, changing the tires on your car, making the kids’ beds, and cleaning the house. If the task is something that is lower priority and is both non-urgent and not very important, then it’s probably a task that can be dumped and not given another thought.

Time management tip #4: For the tasks that still need to be done either by you or someone else, it’s important to be clear about exactly what the task is and expectations. That’s why the fourth of my time management tips is to define the details. 

Have you ever agreed to do something, completed it to the best of your ability and then been told you’ve done it all wrong? Or worse, you’ve counted on someone to do something for you and the result isn’t anything like what you expected? I’ve been in both of these situations more than once and neither one feels good. What I’ve learned is that the best way to prevent things like this from happening is to define the details of the task as completely as you can. This is true even for tasks that you assign to yourself because there’s a difference between obsessively perfect and perfect for this particular circumstance.

Time management tip #5: This tip could actually be the most important, but I’ve saved it for last because it often requires tips 1, 2 and 3 to do it well. The fifth of my time management tips is to schedule time every day to take care of you. Although it may not seem to be urgent at first, I assure you that taking care of you is both highly urgent and highly important. Divorce is stressful, demanding and exhausting for most people. In order to get through it and make sure you’re functioning at your best, you must take care of you.

Taking care of you doesn’t have to take a lot of time. It can be as little as five minutes (this is where tip #1 comes in handy) where you are just focused on nurturing you. You might take a walk, you might dance to your favorite song, or you just might lock yourself in the bathroom for 5 minutes of alone time. Whatever you choose to do, the goal is to take care of yourself so you feel energized enough to get back to the rest of your task list.

My top 5 time management tips for real divorce recovery are just the starting point. They’re tips you can test and adapt to work best for you because time management truly is one of the keys to successfully recover from your divorce and get on to living the best of your life.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
• Download a time app for your phone. Using a timer is one of the time management tips that I still use today. I find that it allows me to completely focus on one task without having a nagging fear that I might work on it too long. Or, for those tasks that I just don’t really want to do — like doing my bookkeeping — I know that there is a defined stopping point. I’ll bet you’ll like getting to know your timer too!

• Set your timer for 15 minutes and make a list of everything you need to get done along with any due dates. I think you just might be surprised at how much less overwhelmed you will feel once you get all of your tasks written down. The pressure of needing to remember everything is gone and we both know how difficult it can be to remember things when you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the divorce.

• Tomorrow, take your list back out, set your timer again for 15 minutes and prioritize your task list. I suggest waiting until tomorrow just in case you had to push really hard to complete the list in the first place. If creating your list wasn’t a HUGE task for you to get done, go ahead and prioritize your list now.

• When you’re ready, it’s time to determine which tasks to do, to delegate and to dump. Again, setting the timer can be extremely helpful in getting this division of the tasks done. 

For the highest priority to do and to delegate tasks, define the details. Doing this will help you figure out how much time to devote to each task and to get a realistic estimate to complete the tasks.

Take a break and take care of you. I find that one of the best ways to celebrate completing any task is to celebrate. What better celebration than to celebrate you and nurture yourself for a little bit.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

This article originally appeared on YourTango

Finding The Right Divorce Experts For You

For most people, divorce is made up of a bunch of unfamiliar events, requirements, emotions and behaviors. It can be a very confusing time. Because divorce is so confusing, unfamiliar and legal, it’s in your best interest to have exactly the right divorce experts to help you out.

The first expert most people find to guide them through divorce is an attorney or a mediator. The legalities of divorce can have repercussions for years and you deserve to have your interests attended to by an expert. However, an attorney may not be the first divorce expert you need to consult.

Another expert you might choose to assist you is a Certified Divorce Financial AnalystTM (CDFA). Experts with this designation can help you understand the long-term implications of various divisions of the marital assets and liabilities. For example, they can help you decide if it makes financial sense for you to keep the house. You deserve to have your financial interests attended to by an expert, but a financial expert may not be the first divorce expert you need to consult either.

People often also turn to a physician or psychiatrist to help them combat the worst of the emotional turmoil of divorce with medication. If your health or life is at risk because of the emotional turmoil, then these medical experts are the first you should contact. However, for most people they aren’t the first divorce experts needed.

Another expert many people going through divorce choose to work with is a therapist or counselor to help them understand how they got to the point of divorce and to identify the behaviors they might choose to change. You definitely deserve to work with these mental health experts, but they probably aren’t the first divorce experts you need to hire for your team of divorce experts.

The first divorce expert most people need to help them work through their divorce transition as quickly and thoroughly as possible so they can feel happy and confident again is a divorce coach.

A divorce coach’s role is to help you get from where you are in the midst of your divorce to where you want to be which usually involves you being happy and feeling confident again. They’ll provide this help in two ways. First, a divorce coach will be able to provide you with a means of choosing the rest of your team of divorce experts and help you identify when you might consider adding another expert to your team. Second, a divorce coach knows that what makes one person happy and confident will be a bit different for another. An experienced divorce coach will have a program that teaches tips, tools, and techniques that you can use to move yourself out of the pits of divorce. They will also provide you with candid feedback and challenge you to keep moving forward so you climb out of the pit and move on toward feeling happy and confident again. A divorce coach will use their experience, expertise and resources to help you get through your divorce and on with your life more quickly than you could ever do on your own.

Of course, a divorce coach can only be the key player in your divorce expert team if you take the time to choose the best one for you.

So, I’ll bet you’re wondering, “How do I choose the best divorce coach for me?” Here’s a four-step process to help you do just that.

Step 1: Create a short-list of divorce coaches. Start by asking your friends, family and even any divorce experts you might have already engaged with. You can also search the internet and social media for referrals. I suggest you find 3 to 5 coaches to create your short-list.

Step 2: Do some research. There are several things you’ll want to gather information on for each of the coaches on your short-list. By doing this research you should be able to winnow your list down a bit more.

  • You’ll want to check out the coach’s credentials – training and membership in professional coaching associations. There are few places where coaching is regulated. What this means is that anyone can choose to be a coach regardless of whether or not they’ve had appropriate training.
  • Visit the coach’s website and look for personal details about the coach. See how many of these questions you can find the answers to:
    • Has the coach been divorced? This is critical because divorce isn’t something you really get unless you’ve been through it yourself. Watching other people go through it just is nowhere near the same as experiencing it firsthand.
    • How long the coach has been divorced? It’s not unusual for someone to enter a helping profession when they are in the process of healing themselves. You’re going to want to be fairly certain that the coach is through their healing so they will be able to focus on yours.
    • How long after their divorce did the coach decide to become a divorce coach? You can get a rough feel for whether or not the coach has finished their own divorce recovery by finding out how long after their divorce they decided to become a divorce coach.
    • What portion of the coach’s clients are working through a divorce and moving on with their lives? If the coach’s work isn’t primarily divorce related, then they won’t be as focused on what you’ll be going through as you might like them to be or as you deserve.
    • Now look at the coach’s website and uncover details about the services and products they offer. Some of the things you’ll want to look for are:
      • Individual coaching – Most coaches offer individual coaching either in person, by phone or even Skype. They also will usually offer packages of a number of sessions for a reduced price when compared to sessions only on an as needed basis.
      • Group coaching – Fewer coaches offer this option. When they do, it’s usually in person, but there are a few who offer group coaching by phone and on-line. Also be sure to check how long the group remains together.
      • Self-study – This is more difficult to find, but there are a few divorce coaches who offer books, assessments and programs for the person who wants to do the work on their own.
      • Retreats – Retreats are usually offered for a week or less at a resort or spa.
      • Freebies – Most coaches offer freebies to provide people tips for navigating divorce and to allow people to have a better understanding of who the coach is and what it might be like working with them. Look for special reports, newsletters, resource lists and blogs.
      • Costs and payment options – Divorce can be expensive. The cost of the divorce coach’s services and their accepted forms of payment are also important pieces of information for you to know.

Step 3: Interview the remaining divorce coaches. Many coaches offer a complimentary interview or consultation. Take advantage of this! Ask them the answers to the questions you still have. Get a taste of what it would be like to work with them. Be sure and make notes for yourself during each of the interviews so you’ll feel confident in your final decision.

Step 4: Select and hire the divorce coach you’re most comfortable with. Once you hire your divorce coach you can expect to start quickly getting through the remaining hurdles to you being happy and confident again.

Your Assignment To Find Your Divorce Experts:

Have you found your divorce coach yet? I know it might seem funny for me, a divorce coach, to be asking you this, but I really want you to get the support you need. You may really enjoy reading my newsletters and blog posts, but aren’t sure you’d like working with me. That’s fine. Schedule a complimentary consultation with me. Get your questions answered and find out what working with me might be like. I want you to find the best divorce coach for you. Take the time to follow through on the process above and I know you’ll find just the right divorce coach for you.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

If you’re looking for more help on dealing with your life now, read more articles about Life After Divorce.

Divorce Doesn’t Make You A Failure

Divorce changes the trajectory of your life, but it doesn’t have to define it.

Dictionary.com’s first definition of failure is “an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success.” According to this definition, divorce is a failure – the failure of the marriage. Yet what I see in each of my clients (and what I experienced when I got divorced) is that going through divorce can make you feel like a failure, like you’re less than other people and have done something fundamentally wrong that you might even believe you deserve to be punished for. Granted, your divorce may be the result of poor decisions you made, but that’s different from believing that you are fundamentally bad because of the failure of your marriage.

Although believing that you are a failure because your marriage has failed is an almost universal experience, what I want you to know is that this is a flawed belief and points to a fundamental misperception that we are what happens to us along with what we do and have in our lives.

Like so many of my clients, in my first marriage, I let my marriage and all that happened as a result of it define who I was and what my value was. For many years, I thought that I had to make my marriage work no matter what. The no matter what for me was losing the changing dreams and desires that I had for my life. I decided (albeit unconsciously at the time) they didn’t matter as much as what was needed for my husband to be happy and that if I could fit things in for me around him and the needs of my marriage then I was lucky. I fell into the trap of abdicating responsibility for me and my life. I stopped making the proactive decisions I needed to make to be fully me.

But here’s the thing: I didn’t understand any of this until after I was divorced, until I worked through a lot of the pain and misery of the transition, until I knew that I wasn’t a failure. It was my marriage that had failed, and that was because of my actions and my ex-husband’s actions. What I had from the failure of my marriage was feedback. I had information about what did and didn’t work for me in a relationship. Over the years, I have been able to use this information, along with all the other feedback I’ve gotten along the way, to make new and improved choices for my life — including my new marriage.

I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to figure out that I am separate from what happens to me in addition to what I do and have in my life. Not everyone who divorces understands this separateness. The saddest cases are those people who stay stuck in their divorce. They are on a constant loop of blaming their ex, themselves, or both, for the failure of their marriage and the failure of their life and themselves.

The best lived lives put into action a belief that life is about moving forward, cultivating your best you, and your ideal world around you by living your purpose. This only happens by active participation and the ability to let go of any and all grievances or judgments you hold — including those you have about your divorce.

Is it easy? No, not at first. At first, it’s awful. It’s one of the hardest things you can do. It requires taking 100 percent responsibility for yourself and accepting that you do have a certain amount of power over what becomes of you. It requires an almost constant awareness that each day is a new day, that each moment is a new moment. We each have the power and the option to make a new start every single moment of every single day. We can make our lives into what we truly want them to be if we are simply willing to make the choices to do what’s required to make them that way.

It probably sounds like a lot of hard work, and it is, but the alternative is failure — failure to be wholly, completely and truly you. That is failure. Divorce is just the failure of your marriage, and it can provide invaluable feedback for you to make your life the best it can be.

You have the choice right now to set your sights on what you want for your life. Once you know what you want, you can begin taking steps (even itty-bitty baby steps) every day toward making your life that way. And if things don’t immediately go the way you want, you’ve just gotten more feedback for you to use adjusting the steps you’re taking. 

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is absolutely positively yes, and 10 is absolutely positively no, rate the following statements:

  1. I am a failure because my marriage failed.
  2. My life will always be a mess because of my divorce.
  3. My ex is to blame for our divorce.
  4. My life will never be as good again because of my divorce.

If you gave any of the above statements anything other score than 10, you’re just like nearly every other person on the planet, and have some work to do on being able to separate you from what happens to you, what you do, and what you have.

One way to start becoming more aware of this separation is to remember a time when you stubbed your toe. Remember how painful it was? Did it cause you to think that you were a failure because you got hurt? Or, maybe it provided you some feedback so you could pay more attention to where you were going, or maybe to wear closed-toe shoes, or maybe even avoid the area where you stubbed it. This simple example can be expanded to help you look at painful events as inspiration to make new choices.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.