Once upon a time I was taught the Transcendental Meditation technique. It’s a mantra-based meditation that is done for 20 minutes twice a day, but that is not my point. The thing about the training that keeps coming back to me is this frequent admonishment:
If you are too busy to meditate, then you are too busy.
As a time management consultant I now believe this concept can be applied to ANY activity in life that is important to you:
If you are too busy to _________, then you are too busy.
Now, this is not about trying to get you to meditate. I really don’t care what you spend your time doing! I only care if you are stressed out by spending your time doing too many of the “wrong” things (the ones that don’t support your desired lifestyle and goals), or by the negative language you use to describe it.
When’s the last time you said, or heard someone else say, “I am so-o-o-o busy!!!”? I’m guessing you say, or hear, it at least once a day. Do you know what others hear when you say that? They hear:
- “I am busier than you are, and more important, too.” I know you probably didn’t intend to insult them, but you may just have done so inadvertently.
- “I have not taken a moment to catch my breath and do any planning, so I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off.” Have you ever seen a chicken running around with its head cut off? I have. On a farm in Idaho as a kid. It’s not pretty. And why are you doing that? Do you feel guilty? Pressured? Unworthy of taking a little me-time? Need some help?
- “I don’t want to do the thing you just asked me to do.” That’s fine, but you might want to learn to say no more gracefully.
What cracks me up is what often happens when someone inquires about my time management services. They are genuinely interested, indeed almost desperate for my help, and willing to pay my fee, too, but they are “too busy” just now to schedule the consultation that could give them immediate relief. Oh, the irony!
Some people resist time management, thinking it will just be more work for them to do. But time management is less about productivity and tying yourself to a strict schedule, and more about using your time more effectively, thereby freeing yourself up to live the life you really want.
In order to do this you must:
- Identify your priorities and goals. (This takes a little quiet time and some focused thought.)
- Choose activities that support those goals and priorities. (Don’t forget those important-but-not-urgent activities such as sleep, exercise, planning, study, projects, relaxing, hobbies, and self-care.)
- Schedule time on your calendar for those activities. (I promise you will never magically “find” the time.)
- Let go of activities that do not support your goals and priorities. (I call it To-Do List Clutter, and yes, of course there’s a flow chart for that!)
With your new ideal schedule in mind, it becomes much easier to say no when asked (or tempted) to do something random or undesirable. You can say you have an appointment (even if it’s with yourself), or that it’s not a priority for you right now.
Another thing I hear a lot is, “But I have no choice.” Yes, you do choose how you spend your time, even if what you are choosing is to run around like a chicken with your head cut off!
Try this: Even if you don’t change the things you do, say to yourself: “I am choosing to do this.” And then ask yourself why. You might have a good reason why, and it could be that an attitude shift is all you need to feel less stressed out. But your new attitude and realization might also lead to some changes.
What will it take to get you to slow down and take a deep breath?
Please share in the comments below!—————————————————————————
Copyright 2013 – 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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