Make Time Not Stress
HOPEFULLY A THOUGHT-PROVOKING TEXT TO INSPIRE YOU TO FIND THE TIME YOU DESERVE
Most of us feel like there’s never enough time in the day to do what we want to do.
Time. Outside of travel, within the daily grind: where does it go?
Work, friends, family, house, personal interests.
Do you know what order these words should be in? Should they even be in any particular order?
How often do you feel like you’re not finding time to be creative (if that’s your thing) because everything and everyone else gets in the way?
I’m looking at this from a creative point of view but I’m pretty sure the same concepts apply whether you’re into growing tomatoes or watching paint dry
Alternatively, are you in a zone where your personal interests have grabbed so much of your time there seems to be no time for other things that you’re aware are important, should be important, but just don’t fit in? Leaving you feeling on the edge of guilt about all the things you feel you should be doing.
When was the last time you stopped and thought about it. A few years ago a friend of mine bought me a book that changed my life. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. I actually nearly didn’t bother reading it, because I assumed it was just a bunch of anecdotes from people who had been successful in business. And because I felt I was too busy with other stuff. I was surprised and delighted to find a guidebook method that got me to change the way I organised my life and my time. It’s not an easy route to take. You’ve got to want to take the steps required. But for me, at that time in my life, it was perfect.
Here’s a PDF snapshot of the seven habits.
For example, have you ever sat down and wrote a list of all the things that occupy your life, that take your time? And have you ever thought to score or prioritize those things into what is actually important to you? In a meaningful way. You might be surprised by what you write down and how much time is taken by things that actually shouldn’t matter so much.
For me, I have a few simple rules that I follow.
- No computer after 9pm
- If I wake up in the middle of the night, early morning – go with it, grasp the moment of alertness, get up, make a drink and sit down to write. (A lot of days I start writing around 4 a.m. so get a big chunk done before heading out to work).
- If I stay up late, watching a movie or out with friends, then I get up at a normal time next day. Give body and mind the sleep it needs. No early morning writing.
- Use your lunch breaks to write! Or even better – use them to walk, grab a cup of coffee and stare into space. Get away from the computer. Alternate between these two options and you’ll do alright.
- Ignore people who try and communicate with you when you’re writing. Perfect the cold stare.
- Do not check Emails or peek at the Internet when you sit down to write – you’ll lose valuable brain space and time.
Doing this, I wrote my last novel (The Black Lake – not released yet) in 7 weeks, and the novel before that (Living in Flames) in three months. But I also managed to make a lot of time for friends – even make new friends and develop those bonds. And travel. And hold down a job. And satisfy all the other aspects of my life. I’m trying to say I’m perfect. Just at this moment in time, I feel like I have things in balance. I’m also aware that it’ll change. Life inevitably pushes things out of balance. Big lesson is learning how to accept and adapt when change does come.
Here’s an anecdote that I discovered recently
It makes a great point:
A professor stood before his Philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.
The students laughed.
“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.
“The golf balls are the important things – your God, family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions – things that if
everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
“The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car.
“The sand is everything else–the small stuff.
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
“The same goes for life. “If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
“Play with your children.
“Take time to get medical checkups.
“Take your partner out to dinner.
“There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.
“Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter.
“Set your priorities.
“The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.
The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.
“It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.”
When was the last time you sat down to read a book?
Or wrote a letter? Not an e-mail, not a Facebook status update, but a hand written letter. Try it. Might take half an hour to badly scrawl one sheet of paper, but the process of doing it is fantastically relaxing, and the reward for the person who receives it is even better.
Anyway, I hope this doesn’t come across as preachy.
Have a productive and rewarding day.
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