Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Time Management for Manic Moms - Week 7: Human Doing to Human Being

Time Truth 7: If you can live in the moment you can expand time

Are you a Doing or a Being?

  • If you have implemented what you've learned, chances are you've been transformed into a lean, mean doing machine. You value your time. You know how you spend it and you've been the proud instigator of plans and systems that have licked your life into shape. You are getting everything done.
  • In the midst of our organizing and doing, we sometimes forget to just enjoy ourselves, to just be, to savour the moment. We neglect to nourish ourselves and our souls.
RQT: Real Quality Time
  • with "doing" out of the way, you can now move your focus towards "being"
  • In the state of being you can expand time by totally immersing yourself in every moment. You can start to make more of your quality time.
Time is like a box of chocolates
  • Understanding you own natural tendencies when it comes to the way you devour time will ultimately determine your ability to savour it.
  • Exercise - Just a minute. Use a digital watch, or have someone keep time for you. Close your eyes and open them when you think a minute has passed. (No counting elephants in your head please!). See if you know how long a minute is. Do you open your eyes too soon? Did your minute seem to take a long time to pass? If so, maybe you're rushing through other things, too. Let this give you an idea of how well your body clock is calibrated with time.
Are you in a Good State or a Right State?
  • Our baseline state is a bit like our resting heart rate; it's how we are most of the time.
  • Your baseline state will affect how you interact with time and how you calibrate with your environment.
  • How do you tend to move, think and feel most of the time? Do you usually feel at one with your activities and environment? Or is your state not conducive to this?
  • The more ticks you have on the left-hand side, the more likely you still have a lot of Manic Martha about you. Although you may be getting many things done, you probably aren't savouring what you do. 
  • If you have more ticks on the right-hand side, you're more like Perfect Paula. With a clear head and a sense of direction you know everything's sorted for the future and will happen because you've planned it that way. You can set the scene for days where you can focus on just enjoying each moment as it comes.
The 7 Deadly Sins of Time Management - the sins that keep you from savouring your time

  • lack of ability to keep your mind in one thing stops you from enjoying what you're doing.
  • Your brain is always racing on to the next thing. You can't sit still and relax. (OUCH for me!)
Sin Two: GUILT
  • Instead of enjoying what you're doing, you're busy beating yourself up about something else you think you should be doing instead.
  • You're wound up like a spring.
  • You find it difficult to relax into whatever you're up to at any given moment.
  • You find it hard to switch from one thing to another.
  • You're always telling yourself that you're really busy and have no time. This bad language reinforces your belief that you're time-poor. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sin Five: GLUTTONY (Always saying "Yes" to More)
  • You don't know how to say No.
  • You often end up with so much on your plate you can't cope up with it all.
  • With too much, piled too high, you find it hard to focus  on or enjoy any of it.
  • You're on an uphill treadmill. You do the same old things day in, day out. Everything rolls into one.
  • The mundane nature of your routine makes it difficult for you to engage with it in a satisfying way.
Sin Seven: LUST
  • You have a roving eye. 
  • You are constantly distracted and so you can't savour the moment.

Simple Sin Solutions

Solution One: FEEL PRESENT
  • think back to your Time Line. Stand up and put yourself in the place that represents your present. How do you feel as you stand there? What do you see and what do you hear?
  • If you had to describe a representation of your present, what would you say about it?
  • If you had to describe it (your present) to someone else, what would you say? If you could think of a symbol of a metaphor to describe it, what would it be?
  • Think to yourself, what symbol would better serve me right now if I wanted to savour the moment more? Then choose to focus on feeling like that.
  • Imagine if you had a built-in switch so that whenever you wanted to feel present to what you were doing you could.
  • It works because it gives you a choice about how you feel.
  • Time management is about choice and focus. You can choose to focus on feeling present and savouring your time or you can choose to focus on feeling hurried and manic.
  • It empowers you to make a choice. Learn how to feel present and then choose to feel that way. Here's how:
    1. Think of a situation where you don't feel totally present, but would like to.
    2. Decide how you would like to feel instead. For example, perhaps you would like to feel calm and engaged.
    3. Recall a time from your past when you really felt that way.
    4. As vividly as you can, as you recall a time when you had the desired feeling, take in all the sounds, all the sights and all the feelings from that memory. Concentrate on experiencing this as intensely as you can. (It might help to close your eyes).
    5. Stop concentrating and shake yourself gently, just to break the feeling.
    6. Think about something you could use to trigger this positive feeling. An example might be clenching your fist, or putting your thumb and forefinger together.
    7. Repeat Step 4 and relive the desired feeling as intensely as you can. Do this ten times.
    8. When the feeling seems at its most intense, "fire" the trigger you thought of in Step 6.
    9. Stop concentrating on the memory. Shake yourself gently to break the feeling.
    10. Test to see if the trigger works by recalling the situation where you lacked presence, identified in Step 1. As you think about it, "fire" your trigger. It should switch you into the positive feeling instantly. If not, repeat Steps 7 to 10.
  • Taking a few moments every now and again really helps to ground you.
  • If you regularly practise meditation or some form of relaxation, you will learn how to become more focused on and engaged in what you are doing.
  • "little and often" is the motto again
  • The Garden of Tranquility
    • Find yourself somewhere quiet and comfortable where you will not be disturbed. In your imagination you are about to visit the most beautiful, relaxing and tranquil garden in the world.
    • Close your eyes and just let go. Let every part of your body relax, from your toes to the crown of your head. When you feel as relaxed as you can, let yourself become ten minutes more relaxed. In your mind's eye take yourself to your own Garden of Tranquility. In this garden the weather is perfect. The sky is clear and blue. Feel the warmth from the golden sun on your every limb. Just notice the relaxing sounds you hear, the smells. As you sink deeper into what feels like the most comfortable chair you've ever sat in, be aware of the colours and landscape in this mystical garden. As you relax, your breathing becomes deeper and slower. Enjoy the wonderful moments that you spend in your garden, knowing that while you're here there's nothing to be done, other than relax. Spend as long as you want in your garden. Only when you are ready, gently come back to the moment, refreshed and raring to go.
Solution Four: GUILT BE GONE
  • Guilt is a useless emotion. The only thing it does is allow us to feel self-righteous as we punish ourselves with mental beatings about things we've chosen to do in the past. Things that we thing we shouldn't have done.
  • While you're thinking "should have", "could have" and "would have", it's hard to be present. Your thoughts are somewhere else. That place is the past, with an event that has happened. You have no control over your past. Why waste time focusing on it?
  • Guilt, the useless emotion
    • Don't waste time fuzzying your focus by justifying choices you've made in the past. 
    • Think about how you can get more control by making better choices about the things that currently make you feel guilty.
    • Feeling guilty won't give you more time. Be bold and committed about the choices you make, rather than feeling guilty about them.
    • If we feel guilty about something, it leaves us unable to enjoy fully whatever we're doing.
    • By making a plan, taking ownership of it and implementing it you put yourself back in control and are better able to deal with guilt.
    • It's all about where you direct your energy and emotion. Do you direct yours positively by taking ownership and responsibility for the choices you make, or do you use them up worrying and feeling guilty?
    • Exercise: Getting rid of guilt
      • Think of one thing you do with your time that makes you feel guilty. The guilty feeling then prevents you from being totally engaged in what you're doing.
      • Mentally take responsibility for the fact that you are choosing to undertake the activity.
      • Ask yourself, "How do I want to feel instead of guilty?"
      • Choose to feel the way you would rather feel. Focus on feeling like that.
      • What else can you do to get control of the situation you're in, so you no longer have a need to feel guilty? Think of 3 things that will put you in control
      • When you lose the guilty feeling you will be able to feel more present and savour what you are doing.
  • Sometimes just setting intent to focus can be really helpful. Think about setting intent before the activity begins, to be fully present and to savour it.
  • Challenge yourself to be present for just 5 minutes to start off with. Reward yourself when you succeed. Keep your focus in the present moment by really noticing what's around you. Gradually, keep increasing the length of time you feel focused for. Exercise your focus span.
  • If you find that activities from different parts of your life seem to impinge on each other, making it hard for you to concentrate on only one of them, it might be helpful to put some boundaries in place.
Solution Seven: MENTAL MARKERS
  • If you find it hard to separate out activities, think of some "mental markers" that will make it easier for you to switch from one to the other. That way you can be fully "in" whatever one you're undertaking. 
  • For example, when you leave the office at night, the revolving door could be your first mental marker. That door means you're leaving work.
Solution Eight: GOOD LANGUAGE

  • The language we use can have a profound effect on the way we feel.
  • Here are some great examples of language that can make you feel rushed:
    • I just haven't got time.
    • I can't believe the holidays have gone already.
    • I just don't know where the time went.
    • I rush from one place to the next.
    • I've just got too much to do.
    • I never have a minute to myself.
    • My body aches and needs help.
  • Make a note each time you use a phrase that tells you you're hurried. Then say the phrase again, this time preceding it with the words "It used to be that..." Follow it with the words "... but I'm not like that any more."
  • Positive affirmations - these will put you in a marvellous mental state, leaving you more open to being present.
  • Affirmations are a statement of how you would like to be, but written in the present tense and positive in nature.
  • Examples:
    • I am calm and focused. I am present to all the activities that I choose to do. I know there is enough time to get everything done, in an orderly way.
    • I always arrive where I'm going on time.
    • I know how to enjoy every moment.
    • My time passes at just the pace I want it to.
  • Think of one affirmation that would override any negative affirmations you're carrying around in your head.
  • Shower of Power - while you're douching your delectables, get your mental matter mustered and mutter your affirmations. What a great way to start the day.
Solution Ten: JUST SAY NO
  • What kinds of things are you saying "Yes please" to when you'd rather be saying "No thank you"? Think of 3 recent things.
  • List 3 situations that are likely to come up in the near future where you know you will want to say "No". How will you deal with these situations when they arise?
  • The Keys to Setting a "No" Free
    • Engage your brain - think before you speak.
    • Put your sanity first - practise saying "no" to yourself in the mirror. That way, when it comes to the real thing you'll be well practised in how to do it.
    • Yes but not yet - you're willing to say "yes" but not at this exact moment
    • I'd like to but I can't - empathize, be assertive not aggressive. Explain why you can't do it.
    • No I can't, but I know a man who can - be as helpful as you can
    • No, I can't do that, but I can do...
  • Remember, you have control over the choice that you make when you say "Yes" or "No".
  • "Wilma What's Next" - she reminds me of what I have to do next when I'm in the middle of what I'm dong. She doesn't want me to forget my schedule. This prevents me from being able to completely savour what I'm doing.
  • Reassure your Wilma What's Next that you now  have a wonderful planning system which allows you to capture all that has to be done and everything is under control.
  • Respectfully ask her to be quiet while you savour what you are doing.
  • By creating memorable events that punctuate your Time Line, you can separate one chunk of time from another. There's spontaneity and excitement breaking up the routine events.
  • Things to think about might be creating your own family traditions. Take time to savour the planning of holidays. "What can we do as a family, or as individuals, what will help this year stand out?"
  • Have a family evening sorting out photos. What a wonderful way to savour what you've been up to!
  • Distractions are a fact of life at home and at work. The question is, how do we deal with these interruptions and distractions so we can focus?
    • Excuse me, who's interrupting you? -- be aware that many of the interruptions we encounter in a typical day are self-inflicted. Notice which ones you're in control of and which ones you're not. Get rid of the ones you can control.
    • Children -- one of the biggest complaints from mums is that they can't focus because their children are always around. If you want focus time without them distracting you, think about all your options for childcare. How about giving your other half, granny or a friend a regular time-slot with the children? Give other family members some RQT with the children so you can have some RQT with yourself. With older children you can ask them to wait, as you would if you were at work. Tell them that you will be free in 5 or 10 minutes. Be sure to follow through. You can even ask them to come back and remind you in 5 minutes. If you consistently do what you say, you will find children can be quite accommodating.
    • Phone calls - please use the answering machines and screen your calls. Only answer if it's convenient.
    • Get rid of items that distract you -- Start to notice what it is that distracts you. When you have this awareness you can begin to work out a plan to remove it.
    • Ask people not to distract you -- tell people when you need a quiet time. Ask them not to call round or phone then.
Solution 14: BUFFER TIME
  • If you get estimates right, it avoids the need to be rushing on to the next thing.
  • Schedule lots of buffer time into you day, so that emergencies can be dealt with.
  • Give yourself some contingency. When you're planning, add on up to 20% more time than you think a task will take.
  • Do your most valuable activities first.
  • You'll feel more present and in control, just by giving yourself a little bit more space to breathe and focus.
  • use the sin solutions and you'll find out what it is to live in the moment and savour every magical minute of every marvellous day.
  • You have the tools, you have the techniques, you have the power of choice.
  • The mum who paces herself will get more done, enjoy it more  and arrive at the finishing line in a better state.
  • Each moment in your life creates your future, so make each one of them magical and create the future you desire, deserve and dream of.
  • What did I do today that was important to me?
  • How did I savour today?
  • What did I do today that will make positive ripples in my future?
  • What future is your present creating for you? The choice is yours.

Actions for Week Six
  • Look at your list of things you've been putting off. (5mins)
  • Choose 2 of them to work on this week. One should be a small, achievable item - for example, spending ten minutes everyday playing one-to-one with your children. It could be putting up a picture that's been propped against the wall for months. The other should be a larger, more time-consuming project.
  • Totally complete the small item. (5-20mins)
  • Break the larger task down into manageable chunks. Put all the short-term actions into your Daily Diary. (10mins)
  • Take at least one step on the larger project. (5-20mins) Remember, lots of small steps will move you forward.
  • Don't put it off. Put the book down and start now!

  • To be or not to be? This is the question. Many of us are so busy doing we've forgotten how to just be.
  • How you relate to time will affect your ability to savour it.
  • There are Seven Sins in Time Management that will prevent you from savouring the moment: Impatience, Guilt, Knowing No Boundaries, Bad Language, Gluttony, Treadmilling and Lust.
  • Each sin has a number of solutions that will absolve you, thus allowing you to savour the moment.

  1. Practice saying "no" in the mirror - then when you get asked to do something you really don't have time for, the word "no" will roll easily off your tongue!
  2. Don't waste time regretting things that have gone wrong.
  3. Buy insurance for plumbing, heating, wiring, etc so you have 24-hour cover 365 days a year.
  4. Lift-share wherever possible for the school run, after-school clubs or other activities.
  5. Don't bring work home.
  6. Clear your fridge of old food every other day before it becomes a permanent fixture.
  7. Only iron what you really have to - ask yourself, "When I'm on my death bed, will I be glad I spent 10 minutes of my life ironing this particular garment?"
  8. Are your children doing too many after-school activities? Are you all overscheduled?
  9. Have a running shopping list, easily accessible to everyone.
  10. The wastepaper bin is the most time-efficient filing system there is.

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