Let’s control our energy and how we experience the time we use.
- To remove the guilt and anxiousness associated with time pressure
- To raise awareness of how you can better enjoy the time you have
- To shift perspective, the LENS you currently look through, regarding your time use
- To practice a more conscious way of feeling more productive
When it comes to how you use your time, shift from time management to energy management by listening to your inner voice that might be feeling anxious and fragmented by all the to-dos. Adjust your lens to align with the reality of what you can control and learn a language to quiet that inner voice and prevent it from fuelling anxiety and frantic ways of working and leading.
- Conscious communication is a beautiful way to manage your energy
- Listen to the narrative of your inner voice during these times of stress
- Learn from what you hear
- Use a language to adjust your inner critic’s thoughts to reduce the emotional reactions and perception of being time poor
1. Refocus Your Lens
People who refocus their lens (their perspective) to align with the reality of what they can control:
- Experience a dramatic sense of self-confidence by knowing what is truly possible and commit with integrity to what they CAN do
- Are able to set goals and agree to tasks that can be accomplished more easily
- Let go of feelings of not keeping up by learning what to say “no” to, in a way that gets everyone’s needs met at less emotional cost
- Breathe, truly and deeply.
- Pause. Close your eyes. Relax all the muscles in your face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, back and belly. Keep that relaxed state. (You might want to sit for this, but standing is fine too.) Take a breath in through your nose and focus your inner sight on ‘watching’ your breath come in and follow it as it flows down through your body to fill up your belly. As you exhale, watch the air leave your belly, up through the chest, throat and nose while allowing the body to relax with each exhalation. Repeat a few times. Can you ‘see’ your breath? Can you feel yourself relax a little more each time? You are the only one that can control that. Take control of your ability to relax.
- Start each day or a time-pressured moment by saying ‘thank you’ to yourself for one thing. No day is ever promised to us and this is something that I really do take for granted at times. Creating gratitude within each day can really help to put your time into perspective!
- Take (or retake) control of your day. Set a vision for how you want to EXPERIENCE the day. Write three descriptive words for how you will live today. Think about what you value and how you intend to run things today (i.e. fun, focussed, and follow-through). Do that now.
When you feel time-pressured:
- Write down and review the tasks of the day or the moment including rest/reflection time.
- Batch the things that you have said “yes” to into groups, e.g. at work: administrative, meetings, delivering, energy breaks; at home: cooking, blogging, working out, planning, kid pickup.
- Estimate the time you will spend in each batch, and choice-fully prioritize the batches, ensuring you include the YOU time.
- Decide to say NO to some of the things on the list (at least for today). “If it’s not a HELL YES, it’s a HELL NO!”
- Put the remaining batches in your calendar according to the time you have allotted. Stick to your times and/or adjust consciously.
Conscious Communication Practice
When you are more conscious of your time, you choose to examine how you spend it. Think about the times you truly experience more joy. When you wrote down and reviewed your tasks, how did you feel? What does this reveal to you? How will you adjust if needed?
When you put tasks into batches and then into your calendar, did you put more in than you can handle? Does everything flow? Is there breathing room? What does this show you about time control versus aligning with reality? How will you adjust if needed?
Alignment with assignment: When assigning tasks to batches, reflect on how the tasks meet your three-descriptor words of your vision. What does this show you?
How will you address the things that don’t meet your vision/values/needs, but that you agree to?
This is a common issue that comes up with the leaders I work with. The “have to / should do” list that tugs at our energy and drags us down.
2. Observe your Inner Critic’s Antics
Conscious communication is not just about language. It is an awareness of how your thoughts lead to your choices. Your choices then lead to your actions, and your actions lead to the results. See how that works? In essence, your thoughts directly lead to the results you achieve.
I can see in myself and others that anxiousness and stress increase when we have conflicting priorities. This happens regardless of whether we are actually short on time or not. When we react to our thoughts about conflicting priorities, our stress response deepens.
The Benefits of Observing Your Inner Critic
When I work with people on how to better listen to their thoughts, they develop an edge:
- They witness and acknowledge their thoughts that lead to their results
- They can choose to do things differently because of their ability to see where their thoughts are leading them
- They still live in ‘reality,’ but choose to live in a better way
- They more easily dissolve blame, shame and guilt cycles
- They are more present and experience more positivity
Calming your inner-critic by being present. Try this out:
When your to-do list gets overwhelming and you watch your thoughts and confidence unravel, go for a walk (physical or mental) and come back to the present moment by removing your inner critic’s three seductive thinking habits:
- Time Traveling
- Blame Game
- Playing the Game versus Changing the Game
Your inner critic loves to time travel by obsessing over past events and the future, while keeping the present moment out of sight. We don’t realize how much time we waste by repeatedly thinking or talking about what has passed, OR obsessing over what might happen in the future. Are you ready to slow down on the time travel and practice more presence?
How much time do you waste by looking for someone or something to blame when your time seems to be slipping away?
Playing the Game Versus Changing the Game
How many of you have felt like your day has been one interruption after another? How many times have you said yes to meeting after meeting, while questioning their value? How many times have you found yourself checking your smartphone or distracted by your to-do lists while in meetings? This is where thinking differently about choices can facilitate better use of your time—only say yes to meetings if they meet your vision and so on. Does this challenge your thinking?
3. Learn the Language of Your Inner Critic
Again, use conscious communication to be aware of this pattern. Your thoughts lead to your choices. Your choices lead to your actions, and your actions lead to your results. Your thoughts will lead you to experience time in a certain way.
Listen and look for LANGUAGE around your time use that implies guilt, shame or blame. Try this conscious communication practice:
- In 1-3 sentences, write down your biggest time management issue. What is happening? Why is this a problem? How is it impacting you?
- Reread what you wrote.
- Refocus your lens/perspective, while considering time traveling. Underline any words/phrases that deal with the past or future. Look out for words or phrases that imply “should/could” or “would have” (past) OR “won’t be able to” or “will never” (future) or any variation.
- Refocus your lens/perspective while considering the blame game. Become conscious of any language that implies blame or guilt for you or others.
- Refocus your lens/perspective to see if you are playing the game versus changing the game. Notice how you are feeling when you read for time traveling and blame. Describe how you feel. What are you aware of now? What are you learning as you examine and explore through this lens?
If you are like me, you desire to use your time in ways that fuel your energy rather than leave you feeling depleted, even with the tasks we have accepted that are less desirable.
- Perfect the present and slow the time travel. Practice examining your thoughts to remove language that has you mourning the past or anticipating the future. How will you focus your thoughts now? How will you focus your time?
- Aim instead of blame. When the pressure is high, aim to stop the noise of the inner critic. Breathe (in the way previously described). Next, shift to your vision for using your time. Do this rather than spending any time defending, blaming or guilting.