I've been struggling a bit with my project this month. Work caught up with me again, and I've been way too busy, hardly being able to keep head above water. But one of the main goals for this month was to improve my relationship with time and learn how to avoid these situations.
I think that perhaps the most important thing I've learned since starting the happiness project is to be more patient and persistent, as important changes usually take time. I've realized that things rarely happen as fast as I would like, but if instead of giving up, I move on, accepting my failures and learning from my mistakes, eventually amazing things happen. When I look back to my situation when I started this project, I definitely know that I do not want to give up.
So even though my relationship with time is not quite there yet, I want to focus on what has improved. This month I've been planning my time on weekly basis. Each Friday I look at the week ahead and list my deadlines and urgent projects. I also list a couple of important tasks that I want to accomplish. I don't try to schedule every minute of the week. It never works anyway. But I try to get an idea how much can be done during that week considering appointments, meetings, deadlines etc. Each morning I look at my weekly plan and goals and plan the day ahead. This has definitely helped, and I feel like I have more control over things...I am less reactive to outside demands. But the problem is that I still have too many urgent tasks on my to do list. I want to make more space for things that are important to me, but are repeatedly postponed because they are not really urgent.
When I think of urgent tasks these are tasks with clear deadlines that have to be completed now...or never. They can be important, or they can be not so important. Many tasks are not really urgent when they come up, but because I start working on them too late they become urgent. And when they become urgent, I loose control over my time, and I become more reactive than proactive.
I also have nagging tasks on my to-do list. These tend to be semi-important tasks that are not exactly urgent, but because they have been on my to do list for way too long, they make me feel guilty and hence take up way too much energy.
My goal is to eliminate as many urgent and nagging tasks from my to-do list as possible. This means either doing them or dropping them. And then I need to work on my habits to prevent new urgent/nagging tasks on my to do list.
October is already coming to an end. For the next few days I want to log my time in 15 minutes intervals, to get a better sense of where all that time is going...
Friday, October 26, 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
"The difference between people who exercise initiative and those who don't is literally the difference between night and day. I'm not talking about a 25 to 50 percent difference in effectiveness; I'm talking about 5000-plus percent difference, particularly if they are smart, aware, and sensitive to others."
-Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
One of my resolutions this month is to be more proactive, less reactive. This means thinking more about what I need, what I want, what I think. And work from there. Instead of primarily responding to external factors, other people's needs, other people's wants and other people's thoughts. Of course this does not mean that I want to be selfish and self-centered...
There was a little story in Covey's book about his daughter who had a birthday party, and didn't want to let the other kids at the party play with her gifts. While the author says he was quite upset about her behavior, he goes on to saying that perhaps she didn't want to share those toys because she hadn't had the opportunity to feel her ownership over them. And how can you share something that is not yours? I've thought about this story a lot, and how I think it relates to people's codependent behavior. Many people are constantly trying to be nice, trying to please others, trying to think about other people's needs and wants, but end up feeling frustrated and unappreciated. But this is the key. To have something to give, to be able to take care of others, we first need to feel the ownership, i.e. feel that we have something to give. We need to take care of ourselves, and then I believe, taking care of others comes very naturally to us. If we are proactive, we will not feel like other people are taking advantage, or that we are doing things just because we think that we should. We will make better decisions about when it is right to accommodate others and when it isn't. And being nice and helpful makes us feel happy, not powerless or depleted.
As with regards to time and schedule, it can be quite easy to fall into reactive mode, when life is busy and there are constant outside demands. Tasks that are urgent, but perhaps not very important for your values or long time goals, can take up most of your time. On the other hand, there are many things that are important to your values, goals and happiness, but are not exactly urgent, and hence sometimes time disappears without you doing a single thing that is REALLY important to you. The happiness project as a whole is to me a tool to deal with that. The resolution charts are making me accountable to myself, in doing things on daily basis that are consistent with my goals and values.
As I have focused on my thoughts, feelings and language in the last few days I have realized that whenever I am feeling frustrated, anxious, stressed, or angry, I am being reactive. I am making myself a victim to circumstances, to the environment and to other people's behavior. To give myself a little pat on the back...I've also realize that I have made an amazing progress in the last few months. While I still have some way to go, I can already see that I am going in the right direction and that I am not nearly as reactive in my thoughts and language as I was just 4 months ago!
I feel like I am taking a big step:) And in the next few weeks, I am going to substitute more of the I should, I must, I have to, I can't, by I can, I will, I prefer, I choose
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Time is money.
Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.
I decided to tackle time and money in the same month, as I have a very similar relationship to both. I often become stressed and anxious about the lack of time or the lack of money. I do not feel in control over my schedule or my finances. Time and money seem to disappear, and I don't know where it's going. I never have a buffer. I spend out the first days after I get paid, and by the end of the month I usually have zero money, or worse...negative money. In a similar way, I do not have a time-buffer. When I have deadlines, I am working until last minute.
Moreover, there is of course a very close relationship between time and money. We exchange one for the other. We give our time to our employers, instead we get money to buy food, clothes and other stuff. And some of that stuff, when you come to think about it may really not be worth your time...
My October Resolutions
- Wake up 6:20
- Be present
- Monitor/log every penny
- Take a few days where I log my time, minute from minute
- Be proactive
- Make weekly plans
- No non-essential spending
- Bring lunch to work
- Say positive affirmations about abundance (in terms of both time and money)
- Do not stress about time or money
My October Goals
- Read: Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st Century and the first two chapters in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- Finish my tasks at least a day before their deadline
- Have at least 300 dkk (approx. 50 usd) in my bank account at the end of the month