“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” – Anthony Robbins
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
These two great quotes are making the same point while coming from different directions; the authors are saying that our lives are in our own hands and that we should look at all the parts of our lives honestly and make conscious choices confidently so that we may benefit.
We have the power to change our lives by using what we already have inside ourselves: Tony Robbins knows that lack of self-confidence often holds us back; Ralph Waldo Emerson shows us that it’s what’s inside of us that counts more than the past and the future.
Even though they haven’t written books called “Time Management”, these authors teach us a lot about successful time management and successful life management.
The past 19 months have taught us that time can stand still, expand to fill how long it takes a task to be done, stretch out endlessly before us or reduce itself so small that there simply isn’t enough of it. Yet, we all still have 24 hours in a day.
Another great quote is from David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” and “Ready for Anything”. He gets right to the point when he says, “Time is just time, you can’t mismanage it. What that really means is that you mismanaged the agreement you had with yourself about what you should have accomplished.” He goes on to say that time management is really a complex issue of self-management where work needs to be captured, clarified, organized and reviewed in line with your purpose, values, vision, goals, and strategies. When these things are in line, you’ll feel good about how you’re managing time.
I started to reflect on the cause of why some days are more productive than others and landed on the concept of distractions; how one has a tendency of thinking back and thinking ahead. Have you ever caught yourself worrying about the tasks that need to be done later in the day or tomorrow, whether this or that will turn out the way you hope or stressing over things that happened yesterday or last week? I’ve found that the days where it is easier to get things done are the days where I am totally focused on the task at hand, in other words, I’m being in the present moment.
I can’t be the only one that has discovered this pattern, and this fits nicely with the term ‘mindfulness’. It’s one of those things we hear so much about, but what does it mean to be mindful? Some might think it is like meditating (that can happen as part of practicing mindfulness), or like forgetting about things (depends on what you are thinking about), but what it really means is to bring you to the present time and to be present and aware of what you are doing now, at this moment in time.
What is Mindfulness?
According to mindful.com, it is “…the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” That sounds simple but can be challenging in practice.
My colleague shared her own experience in trying to be mindful and said she lasted maybe two minutes before she became distracted. She tried it as just a re-adjustment of her thought processes to try to concentrate on what she was doing and even tried it through meditation. However, she didn’t give up. She started slowly with one simple process, when she found herself becoming overwhelmed and distracted, she stopped everything she was doing for a moment.
At that moment she decided that she was going to fix this through her thought processes by taking note of what she was thinking about the moment she felt overwhelmed. If it was something in the past or something not yet to take place, she stripped it away and thought to herself, “What am I doing right now?” She would listen to her breathing, acknowledge where she was in her physical location and set her mind to the task at hand. Turning back to what she was trying to accomplish she would attempt to focus on that alone.
Now that’s not saying there haven’t been many times where she tried and still became distracted, but the key was not giving up. Mindfulness is learning process and takes time and practice.
Why is it so important?
Some of the common benefits of practising mindfulness include:
better sleep patterns;
weight management (maybe because we are thinking about what we are eating);
reduction in automatic negative thought processes;
assistance in managing anxiety and depression;
improved general health (physical and mental); and
Even therapists that suggest mindfulness to their clients have noticed a change in how they provide therapy by practicing it themselves. As noted by the American Psychological Association in 2012, studies suggest that by practicing mindfulness, therapists not only benefit from the reduction of anxiety and depression but it is found to improve how they care for their clients through more empathy and compassion to their clients with improved skills in counselling.
There we have it! I focused and this blog is now finished! One small victory!
If you’re seeking your one small victory, don’t give up and remember:
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”― Buddha