There are a few simple questions you can ask yourself — even on the go — that will help you take back your time for what’s really important to you.
Summer is such a busy time it can be hard to make time for what matters most. Even the long summer days don’t seem to be enough for the extra time we all need and want.
Between traveling, house guests, kids activities, the lawn and garden, home repairs, and unique outdoor activities, it’s easy to just go, go, go and start to feel uncentered and pulled in too many directions.
This week I’m sharing the advice of 3 expert authors, each with a unique and powerful message. Try asking yourself any one, or all, of these questions and watch time slow down, while you feel more relaxed and in control of your life. And I’m offering three challenges to help you get there.
3 Experts Weigh In: How To Make Time For What Matters Most
1. How Do I Want To Feel?
That’s the question author, Danielle LaPorte, asks in her book, The Desire Map. Laporte challenges us to determine how we want to feel in our lives and then create our goals, intentions, and priorities based on creating the feelings we desire. She writes:
“Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life.”
What would your day, week, or any area of your life look like if you created it from the inside out? If you first determined how you want to feel and then made decisions from there? If you did, your actions would be determined by your deepest motivations and not just what and who is around you — not other people’s agendas or whatever you’re being distracted by in the moment.
I challenge you to name 3 qualities describing how you’d like to feel and then see if you can make one small decision that priorities creating that feeling. It could be as simple as “I want to feel energetic,” and this might help you prioritize exercise and eating right. Or “I want to feel closer to my kids,” which would guide family time choices.
2. What’s Happening In This Moment?
Perhaps the biggest time waster is not being present in the moment. Being distracted, worried, projecting into the future, or ruminating about the past.
“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.”
That’s a quote from Sylvia Boorstein, author, meditation Instructor, and psychotherapist. Boorstein teaches that when we’re resisting or rejecting what is, or how we feel, we’re taking ourselves out of the moment, destroying any chance for the time-stretching quality of presence. What joys, synchronicity, and meaningful interactions are you missing out on because you’re simply not present?
I challenge you to practice taking a deep breath and re-centering yourself in the moment multiple times a day, and to practice accepting your experience just as it is.
3. Is This Important?
Late author, Stephen R. Covey, of The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People fame, created a simple grid that explains the 4 ways we spend our time, where to focus, and what to avoid. Any activity will fall into one of the following categories:
1. Important and Urgent
2. Important and Not Urgent
3. Not Important and Urgent
4. Not Important and Not Urgent
Covey places each possibility in this grid for easy understanding.
Notice how often you get caught up in #3 or #4 — in deceiving yourself into thinking busy = productive, even if it’s not your priority. Or that “whatever comes up” has to hijack you and your day (think emails and Facebook). Anything “Not Important AND Not Urgent” is a distraction and a time waster (we all have them).
You can create more time for what matters most to you by saying No more often and by delegating more of the “Not Important and yet Urgent things” that come up in your life.
I challenge you to focus more on what’s “Important and Not Urgent,” such as your relationships, your health, and preparation and planning. This is the “quadrant of quality” where your time is spent in the most meaningful ways.
With these three questions —
• How Do I Want To Feel?
• What’s Happening In This Moment?
• Is This Important?
You’ll begin to make time for what really matters most to you.
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