Do you want to enjoy the moment? Wish you were less distracted and hurried? I do!
There is a lot of talk about being mindful and more present, but how do you really do this? I have been putting off tracking how I spend my time. I want to know, but that usually means I will need to change.
Am I really ready to face those time bandits? I took off my blinders, and you can too. With the help of Katie Tallo‘s Life Cleanse Starter Kit, I began a week of focusing, de-cluttering, and creating.
First, let me introduce Katie, she writes for Momentum Gathering. I am drawn to Katie’s blog for inspiration and rest. The blogosphere and web is filled with to do lists, and I already have enough to do!
So, instead of admiring Katie for the changes she’s made, I decide to accept her invitation and start my own “life cleanse.” When I first open her e-book, I react with urgency, and wonder if I can cram all 7 days into one!
Cramming time sums up my old perspective on managing my time. My perspective is beginning to shift, and I find it reassuring to know that I can make changes at a gentle pace. Do you want to get your time back?
Here are some steps to making more of your time your own:
Track How You Spend Your Time
In day 1 of Katie’s Life Cleanse, she provides a record for tracking your time for 16 hours. After tracking my time, I am surprised by my focus and relaxation. Although I spend most of my day caring for kids and cleaning up, I am less hurried. Tracking my time makes me more aware of the little decisions I make all day long. Instead of cramming things in or getting distracted, I make conscious choices regarding how to spend my time. I even gladly erase some things from my to do list.
I am surprised by the opportunities and choices I have. Katie talks about finding pockets of time, and I have them! For me, they can be small 5 minute pockets or longer stretches of time. On my tracking day, I am more balanced, and enjoying kisses, snuggles, and activities as well as reading, writing, emailing, and movies. It is a full day, including caring, cleaning, alone time, and togetherness time. I couldn’t help but wonder how I was ever going to keep this up, especially on a work day!
Identify Your Time Stealers
Before I share how I keep this relaxed yet focused pace going on most days, let me stop to recognize those time stealing bandits. For me, I found there are two main time stealers: 1) my preoccupation with productivity and 2) mindless computer usage.
I think of time as a commodity. I want every minute to count, and I hate wasting time. I try to cram in more than is realistic, even for superwoman. I worry about running out of time, so I have several things going at once. This leads to mental clutter. I don’t want to think about time in this way. I don’t want my life to be a sprint. I want it to be more of a stroll with active peaks.
I think I am naturally driven to stay at peak performance, yet I have a hunch there is another time stealer in my life. For me, it is mindless computer usage. My laptop sits in the kitchen, and I walk by it, compelled to open it. I let it take me hostage. One click leads to another, and I lose track of time. When my kids ask me repeatedly to get off the computer, I start to question what I am doing. The more time I spend on the computer, the more rushed I am in my life. Being on the computer is not where I find relaxation (other than Katie’s blog), it is where I find more to do!
A light bulb goes off, and I decide I can make choices with the computer, just like I do my time. I am using the computer when I have a goal to accomplish, not when I am bored or procrastinating. In addition, I ask myself the following questions to help me be more mindful and purposeful in my computer usage:
- Is this what I want to be doing right now?
- How long do I want/can I be in front of the computer?
- What do I want to accomplish?
Can you think of a way you can arrest your time bandits in their tracks? Show them who is in charge of your time!
Create Your Own Space
I am more in charge of my time these days. And, I am no longer writing down how I spend my time. To be more focused yet more relaxed is a big motivator for me to sustain these small changes in my day. In addition to being more mindful of my time and time bandits, I have created my own quiet spaces at home and in my office.
In both places, it is a corner or a cubby hole, nothing elaborate, because that’s not me. By creating this space, it is a visual reminder to slow down. I hear Katie asking me, Do You Have Your Own Chair? While I don’t have my own chair, I have equipped my corner with all of the things I enjoy: a journal, inspirational and recreational books, index cards, highlighter, lamp, blanket, music player, and tea. I needed to clear out space to make my own. I gravitate to this place, even if it is only for 15 minutes.
It’s your turn. What are your time stealers? Share how you create pockets of time for yourself.
Photo Credit: John Morgan
Editor’s Note: Article Title Updated December 10, 2010 (from “How I Got My Time Back”)