The second installment in this series is about Time...How do you manage your time? Do you have the time to do all of the things you desire? Is the way you're managing your time enhancing your capacities or causing them to short circuit?
T I M E
~when we become Masters of our time we are better equipped to step fully into our dharma~
Time is one of the places where I feel that I have become masterful more out of necessity than a desire to be in charge of my life and destiny. My first experiences in bending time were when my children were much younger. I was a single mom with 3 kids, a full time college student, teacher, and human being. I had a full plate and only 24 hours in the day to get everything I needed AND wanted done. The skills I learned then served me when I was managing Soul Tree and they serve me today as I manage my own business. All those years ago I discovered several key components necessary to bending time. I am going to share those components here with you. They are the tiny, invisible routines and collections of habits that I do every single day to make sure that I get things done, that I don’t get interrupted, and that I can sustainably move towards my goals, one day at a time.
1. Go to Bed & Wake up Early
What's the easiest way to find extra hours in your day? Get up early! It's easier than it seems and with a little preparation you can begin to implement this time bending magic tomorrow morning. There are 3 components to making this work: planning ahead the night before, optimal sleeping conditions, and a morning ritual (more on that below). When you do these 3 things, getting up early isn't a challenge and as a result, you have more time in the morning to exercise, engage in morning ritual, spend with your family, or even to get to work early. The reason for this is simple; in the morning, others are usually not awake – so there are less distractions to sidetrack you. Most days I can get the majority of what needs to be done finished before noon.
How can you plan the night before for your next morning? Does your current sleep schedule serve your waking hours? Are you losing sleep in an effort to "get it all done"?
2. Morning Ritual
A morning ritual will help you to streamline your day and helps to bring your mind into focused awareness. Each morning I wake up and engage in the same routine:
* Wake into Awareness: I feel into my body sensations, I stretch out long and feel the sheets against my skin, and I listen for the subtle messages my body and consciousness may be sending me. I offer up a prayer of Gratitude for the life I am living before my feet touch the floor.
* Drink Water: I keep a glass of water on my bedside table and I drink it before I get up to use the bathroom
*Use the Bathroom: I rinse & oil my face, brush my teeth, & take care of my humanly business
*Start Tea & Little Chores: While I'm waiting for the tea to boil, I unload the dishwasher (which is always run the night before) and I clean Lorenzo's litter box. By the time I am done with these 2 tasks, my tea is done and can sit to cool while I meditate
*Meditation/Pranayama/Asana Practice: My meditation practice always starts with my ritual lighting of the altar candles. I bless myself and the room with Palo Santo smoke & then I settle in to my meditation cushion. The key to making meditation work is to find a time that works for you, find a place that works for you, and just start doing it.
* Breakfast: I prepare and eat a delicious nutritious breakfast to fuel my day
*Journal: I spend a few minutes to write each morning. Sometimes the entries are pages long and sometimes only a few sentences. The key to success in any relationship is clear communication; are you taking the time to communicate with yourself?
*Look Over To-Do List: I look over what I need to accomplish throughout the course of the day and make an action plan to execute each item on the list
*Eat The Frog: This is the most important, and almost always least desirable, to-do item on my list. I choose to do it first to get it out of the way while I am still fresh and ready to go
Do you have a productive morning routine? How can you implement the morning ritual into your routine? What would your ideal morning ritual look like? Do you keep a journal?
An active body is an efficient one. When we let our physical bodies become stagnant or lethargic our productivity goes in the same direction. Exercise is a key component to my becoming a Master of my Time. I always feel more refreshed and motivated when I take the time to get my heart rate up and get a little sweaty. In addition to my asana practice, I take a walk everyday and try to go on a longer hike and/or bike ride once a week.
How often do you exercise? What ways do you like to exercise? How can you commit to moving your body every day?
4. Strategic Planning
This involves setting up a time-based structure and schedule for your days. By simply doing this, and sticking to the schedule, you will automatically become more productive.
Here is how I use strategic planning... First, I identify my Must Do items; classes I am teaching, family events, my favorite yoga classes & exercise and I commit to them – I put them into my calendar. What this does is highlight the things that I MUST do every single day/week, these are the “non-negotiable” time slots. Self-Care, Meditation & Personal Practice, Exercise, The Morning Routine, Work Schedule, and Family Time are all Must Do Items. After the non-negotiables are in my calendar, I fill in where there is room in my schedule with appointments, tasks, and other "to-do" items.
By implementing strategic planning I know that I accomplish the most I could get done in one day. This is an extremely liberating feeling. So many of us feel like we we could or should be doing more. By practicing strategic planning, we know that our days are optimized and that we did the best we could and we can be proud of that. If you're always getting swept up in the day’s emergencies and ebbs and flows or if you’re feeling constantly overwhelmed by things happening around you – you NEED to practice strategic planning. It will restore the sense of control and order that you’re looking for.
Do you feel in control of your schedule? Do you often feel like you are running around like the proverbial chicken? Where can you use some fine tuning? How do you plan your perfect day? Have you set any long-term goals for yourself? How well do you feel you currently balance work and life responsibilities?
5. Taking Breaks
Ok, so we just strategically planned and now I'm telling you to take breaks?
Research shows that people are more productive when they take a periodic pause from what they are doing. "Taking Breaks" is all about disconnecting from work, letting your mind and body rest, and then coming back to work to continue being productive. Try taking a break from working to go for a walk or sit in nature. When you begin to implement a downtime ritual, you begin to discover that you are able to pause from your work, go away, enjoy you break, and then come back and pick up exactly where you left off. My favorite breaks include walking around the block, sitting outside and hanging out with my cat & dog.
Have you ever tried to "power through" a project or a work day and were left feeling exhausted and didn't feel like you did your best? Are you grabbing for that afternoon cup of caffeine to help fuel you for the next few hours of work? Does the idea of taking breaks make you feel guilty? How can you see yourself "taking a break"?
6. Email & Social Media: The Biggest Time Vampires
The most difficult aspect of time bending for me has been navigating email and social media. I have to use both because the nature of my work demands it and the temptation to get sucked in is so great. In an effort to master this aspect of Time I turned off all of my notifications on my phone and I deleted the Facebook & Messenger app from my phone entirely. I check my email twice a day; once in the morning and again in the early afternoon. I answer emails immediately upon checking when I can & if I receive an email that requires me to work on a project I add that to my to-do list. When I need to post something to Facebook or instagram, I try to be conscious of my time spent in those places. I do enjoy seeing what my friends are up to on both sites, so I am not just all business in & out, but I am very cognizant of how much time I am allowing myself to engage. If I find myself mindlessly scrolling through the feed, I pull myself back into the present moment and close the computer or put down the phone.
How often do you check email? How much time do you spend on email every day? How long has it been since you had an empty email inbox? What do you do when you get an email that requires you to work on a project? How long can you go without your phone?
7. Evening Ritual
The key to the integrity of anything is it's foundation; Time Bending is no exception. The foundation for tomorrow is laid in what you do tonight. The Evening Ritual is the opposite end of the Morning Ritual; just as your morning ritual starts your day, your evening ritual ends it. Your Evening Ritual is the wind-down process that you go through at the end of the day so that you can benefit from a deep, healing, restful sleep. My evening ritual begins after I eat dinner with my family and the dishwasher is running leaving the kitchen clean and ready for me to begin my day the next morning. I take a look at tomorrow's to-do list and add to it anything that is weighing on my mind and I make sure to gather any materials that will make my morning more easeful and set them near my workspace. I put my phone on "do not disturb" and I climb into bed where I usually read while my husband showers. I am usually asleep by 10pm; weekday or weekend.
Do you have a "wind-down" process for the end of your day? Do you find yourself spinning in your thoughts when you lie down in bed? Is your weekday routine the same as your weekend? What would your Evening Ritual look like?
It isn't possible to gain more than 24 hours in a day, but it is possible to use the hours you have more efficiently. Just as we work on our asana mat to move through strong poses more efficiently, we must work to construct a lifestyle that will allow us to move through time with more efficiency and ease.
Please share your experiences with me! What are your struggles and triumphs around time?