Time Management

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iStock 000001741705SmallThere was a meme on facebook recently that I liked, titled Zen Things. If you want to see it, it's on my facebook page. The suggestions listed which stood out to me were:

- Develop rituals

- Designate time for certain things

- Make cleaning and cooking become meditation

I like this because it fits in with my belief that time management is the key to living the life we want, and because it adds the extra ideas of meditation and rituals. These aspects allow us to accept and carry out our own decisions, even when they are about stuff that we may find boring and really resent having to do.

Even the language – calling something a daily ritual instead of a chore, connects it more with the real meaning of self care, self respect and love of self so many of us struggle with. Making it meditation seems to me to be accepting it and feeling peaceful about it as we calmly carry out our ritual, even allowing enjoyment to be present.

I find the most peace, (and peace is my highest value), when I am doing something I feel is the right thing for me to be doing at that moment. So the suggestion that we make cleaning and cooking become meditation makes sense to me, and is about acceptance, and allowing myself to feel ok about what I'm doing in the moment. It allows me to be in a state where I let go of self doubt and go ahead with the decision I have made, which may not be a perfect decision, but is the best available to me with the knowledge, skills and resources available to me right now.

In my eBook Organized for Life I talk about developing routines to make our lives easier and to get into good habits which will lead us towards the outcomes we want in our life. Sometimes I need to remind myself of my own advice and of decisions I've already made.

For example, you may have read my article titled How to Organize a Year's Worth of Paperwork. Well, lately I've been struggling again to keep my desk clear, and the answer smacked me in the face the other day – 10 minutes of filing each work day. So bloody obvious and simple, and there's no reason I can come up with not to just do it. I just set the timer on my phone, put some music on and go. When the timer beeps, that's it for today.

This is a ritual. Part of what makes it a ritual, is that I set the timer and put on music, and this makes it more fun and reminds me that it's easy, doesn't take long and that I'm doing it to benefit myself – I'm rewarded for it by less stress, better concentration, keeping on top of things, less distraction and worry and being able to easily find things.

Rebelling against this decision is still tempting, but when I remind myself that I'm the one who benefits from doing it and I'm the one who suffers if I don't do it, it's a no brainer. And the more days that pass when I've done it the better I feel each day when I sit at my desk to work.
Other areas I apply this concept to are drinking water, exercising, and cooking.

I've noticed lately, that now that my partner is living with us, he tends to keep me company and help me when I'm cooking dinner (or sometimes he cooks and I keep him company and help him). I've always tended to put music on while I was cooking to make it more enjoyable, but still found it a bit of a chore usually. Now I've started enjoying it more because it's become something more than being present for the kids and getting a meal on the table, it's time we spend together. And in a way, it has become a kind of meditation. I'm not sure why, because we're talking and the kids and the pets are there, and surely meditation is something you do on your own, but that's how it feels, kind of peaceful.

I notice too, that whenever I'm operating in this meditative state, I'm better able to be present with my kids. Sounds strange, doesn't it, but feeling peaceful and accepting makes me more receptive to listening to them and really giving them my attention. It makes me more aware of what's going on, too, and able to give directions and set and stick to boundaries.

Ok, so maybe it's easier to be in a peaceful, meditative state doing daily chores when you have adult company, and I didn't feel quite so peaceful about going to the supermarket, in fact I was getting really fed up with it.

How to get this tedious chore back to being something I can get done in a calm, meditative way, accepting it and enjoying it rather than resenting it?

- Outsource it to my personal assistant. (Ok, not quite there yet, lol, I don't have one, but that's totally top of my list when I do).

- Update my grocery checklist and get back to using it regularly, and doing a full weekly meal plan before each grocery shop. It sounds like it's time consuming, but when you think of the time saved not having to go out for things you forgot, it's worth it.

- Get some new shopping bags, change the CDs in the car.

- Tidy myself up a bit before going, so I feel better, making sure I'm warm enough and my shoes are comfortable.

- Go at my designated time, when it's easier to park and not so crowded.

Voila – walking calmly through the supermarket, knowing what I need, not worrying, not resenting it, feeling better.

I know that my greatest source of stress and anxiety is feeling indecisive – when overwhelm creeps in and I stuff around not making a firm decision about what to do next. This happens, of course, between coaching sessions, when I don't have something specific scheduled and I must use my own discretion to choose what, from the very many things I need to do, I'm going to do right now. Am I going to write, do bookkeeping stuff (also high on the list of tedious things to outsource), feed the washing machine, study, play my guitar or chat to a girlfriend.

What this tells me is that those things which do not have a specific time allocated to them, which have not become a ritual and which I am still rebelling against in some way, are the ones needing some attention to get them to a place where they're happening regularly and I feel ok about doing them.

I notice that I can put off doing fun and relaxing things like playing guitar or reading as much as I might want to put off invoicing, sales and marketing or housework. What's that about? Well I think it's about feeling that I've done the things that need to be done and it's ok to allow myself the time for those fun and relaxing things. And of course like so many busy people, especially women, mothers, single mothers, there just never seems to be a time when everything is caught up, up to date and satisfactorily done, allowing totally guilt free leisure time.

This rambled on into another article about energy management which I'll publish soon, but the point is we need to allocate time to relax too, and learn to be ok with it, to accept it, and to allow ourselves to enjoy it.

So, I invite you to join me in finding something today, maybe your filing, your cooking, your shopping, your washing (laundry), your exercise or your piano practice, and asking yourself how you can make it into meditation, how you can make it into a ritual, how you can carry it out at an allocated time, feeling a sense of calm, of acceptance and of peace. I'd love to read your comments about where you've been able to achieve this.

Comments   

#1 pamela 2014-06-09 02:03
Such wonderful reminders - to live in the moment Thanks. :P

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