Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then, youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success. –Louisa May Alcott
If you are here following up on my post from yesterday, you are looking for the nitty gritty of how I plan to move my current fly by the seat of my pants lifestyle into a conscious and created one that actually pushes me towards my dreams. photo © 2008 cmcbrown | more info (via: Wylio)
First a little background:
Several years ago I took a program called Mission Control. It was part of a corporate initiative at my last “real job” before becoming a stay at home mom. I thought the program was brilliant. They promise (this is direct from their website) an exciting new approach to productivity, provides a dramatic increase in your productivity and effectiveness while reducing your stress. And they deliver! Honestly if I had just continued to apply what I learned, things could be vastly different today. Rather then manifesting as wishes I would have been designing and creating my dreams as viable outcomes. For whatever reason during this Order Week I am ready to make this a true Bliss Habit!
You will never get it all done.
One of the major precepts of the Mission Control program is that you will never get everything done. When one first hears this it feels like an assault on one’s character. “You might not be able to do it, but I sure can!” chants through your head and you convince your self that some tip or tool will someday provide the perfect access to FINALLY getting it all done! The problem is the quest for the tool becomes a scapegoat for all the stuff you aren’t able to do at the moment, “When I get organized (insert tip or tool of choice here) I’ll be able to get everything done!” and then even if you become successful and employ your new tool (in this case getting organized) all the time you free up because of it will be immediately filled with a hundred other things you want, should or need to do.
We all get the same 24 hours.
Our calendars are finite. We only have 24 hours in a day. No matter how organized and efficient we get this remains the case. Not really what you want to hear is it? We really do want more time but unfortunately no tip or tool can give us any more. I know you are resisting this fact. If/when we really grok this we can look at our days anew. The game becomes about prioritizing. Since I only have 24 hours in a day, what do I want to do with them becomes the question, and the sort of crazed, trying to do everything all at once way, I’ve been living life is not the answer. As I mentioned yesterday, it is time to become friends with the calendar. First we need to see how we are actually spending time. For most of us, much of our time is actually dictated by others. Bosses, spouses and kids, and possibly parents, fill our schedules with things we must, or at the very least should do. Before we can even start thinking about what we want to be doing with our time, we need to get straight about the things we have no control over. If you have to be at work between 8:00 and 6:00, no amount of hopeful thinking will give those hours back to you. Stay at home parents may have a bit more flexibility with the “when” but the amount of time it takes to clean the house, read books to your children, plan and go on play dates, cook dinner etc.etc., still requires a finite amount of time.
Step 1. Find a calendar that you will keep.
A digital one works best when you want to move things around.
Step 2. Put EVERYTHING you already do in your calendar.
Ask yourself a few of these questions:
- How long does it really take you to get ready in the morning?
- What do meals take… Shopping, cooking and eating?
- Do you have doctor’s or other appointments to schedule?
- What meetings already fill your calendar?
- Do you commute, ferry others to school and/or spend time delivering other people or things?
- How much time do you spend on Laundry or other household chores?
- How do you pay your bills?
- When do you put gas in your car? Does your car need maintenance?
- Ask your friends, your spouse… they know what you do even if you forgot!
Step 3. Look closely. Fill your calendar with EVERYTHING (it is usually more then you think!) that you do.
Be honest with yourself, don’t guess that laundry takes an hour when it really takes three. Making a call to schedule a dentist appointment can take more then a minute. When you put EVERYTHING in your calendar you will realize that you often believe things take less time then they really do. “Oh I can shower in 5 minutes…” but it really takes 20. Add drying your hair and 45 is easily obtained. The things we do… EVERYONE of them take time. Stop deluding yourself and what truly is possible becomes startlingly clear!
Step 4. Make a list.
Once your calendar is full with everything you REALLY do DO. It is time to think about what you want to create. In my case, parent participation and great school boards which call my daughter and other students to great heights, tops my list. A thriving on-line community and business to match, organic gardening and worm bin composting, romantic dinners and exotic travels all have their place.The person I want to become has time for it all, reading, exploring and creating all need their due. So what about you? What things have you been avoiding or wishing were true? Are dancing, singing or acting for you? Does painting, socializing or politics call to you? Does your soul yearn for “much more than this?” Make your list and let your soul be heard. There is so much more that you want and you need. Something is calling and wants to be heard! This part of the process is what make your heart sing. Everything you want can make itself heard. Give everything a voice and rejoice. Your soul is calling and you are alive!
Step 5. Getting “real” about your time
I know that we talked about this before. You can’t get it all done no matter the tips and tools. So how do you reconcile this?
- Part One – acknowledge it all! Keep a running list of everything and ANYTHING that pops into your head. In my case, some of today’s list looked like this:
- I need to make Sweet’s four year doctor’s appointment.
- Sort more clothes for my 40 item wardrobe experiment.
- Talk to my Sweetie about tossing clothes he bought for me.
- Put EVERYTHING in my calendar. Play Dates, Park Dates. Preschool, grocery shopping, laundry etc. etc.
- Schedule visits with Joanie and Nancy.
- Schedule oil change, getting gas and regular tune up
- Find or get new title for old car and schedule it’s donation.
- Get dinner stuff and Milk for the girl.
- Write blog post…. research time management quotes.
- Tweet and request tweets..
- Reply to emails.
- Keep Facebook page up to date.
- etc. etc etc.
- Part Two. Prioritize and put the things on your calendar that fit. Remember you will NEVER be able to do everything you want. There are not enough hours in the day for that! Do, look at your list. Decide what will make the biggest difference and have you moving in the direction of your dreams? Pick and schedule the things MOST vital for your ultimate happiness.
- Part Three. (Reminder:You will NEVER do it all.) Schedule the MOST important things that bring you closer to your goals in your calendar now. Even if you ONLY have two hours a month to work on writing that book you have always wanted to write, get that time scheduled! If you are like me you have been WAITING until you can do the whole thing but that day is NEVER coming. Two hours once a month will move you in the direction of getting that book written, not doing anything, because you cant’t see what the end looks like, will NEVER make a difference and only keep you from your goal.
- Part Four. Anything for which you can’t find a spot on your calendar should go on your waiting list. In Mission Control, speak these are the items you deem important but, because you can’t find a place on your calendar, they are things you are “not doing now.” In the paradigm Mission Control provides, ANYTHING you do requires a NOW in which it can happen. Your calendar, filled far in the future, is representative of all the nows you have allocated. Anything not in your calendar requires parking in another place.
- Part Five. Anything you want to do but can’t see possible to schedule, anytime in the near future (three + months) should be sent to long term parking. Mission Control calls this the “NEVER doing Now” list. There is no foreseeable NOW (calendar space) in which this thing can be scheduled but it is still important enough to be remembered.
- Part Six. Review regularly. Your waiting list should be reviewed weekly (an item, to do so, should appear in your calendar!) and the upcoming week can be designed and created to add as many of your waiting items as possible. Items that continually get passed up, and you do not put them ANYWHERE on your calendar should be moved to the Long Term Parking list which will be reviewed on a monthly or quarterly basis. In almost no time you will notice where your priorities lie and you will find yourself picking and choosing ONLY those things that really forward the action on the things you want most.
Whew! That seems like a lot! I assure you it is doable! Back when I had that old corporate job I did this and felt enormous freedom and lack of stress. I always knew EXACTLY where I stood and added anything that showed up as missing in the moment it did . To begin is huge and I will do so again!
One of the strategies Mission Control proposes to manage all of this is The Capture Tool. All this is, is a notebook or possibly a voice recorder, in which you log all of the ideas and appointments you want to keep. At the end of everyday you either schedule, in a specific time and place in your calendar, or relegate to the waiting or long term parking lists. Initially this is cumbersome. I have the fortunate Mission Control background however I believe anyone can prioritize and CREATE their lives by following these simple principles.
If you need or want a more visceral experience, I HIGHLY recommend the Mission Control Experience. They have on-line and in person seminars that change lives.
I will be working on my calendar, waiting and long term parking lists immediately and promise to share them by the time next Order Week rolls around.
I am excited about the prospect of living my NEW designed life and I hope you are too!
On Saturday we will be “Speaking about Order.” I will be collecting and inviting YOU to share, new and old posts about spring cleaning, time management and all things orderly! So please stop by and link up your favorites!
It looks like my friend Lisa over at LifeUnity is already playing!
Note: I found the Louisa May Alcott quote over on the Optimal Optimist’s blog in her post Life’s Questions Answered, where she discusses some of the same conundrums about time. A visit to her blog would be worth some of yours!