True story: Lately I have been finding myself cutting down on the massive amounts of coffee I love to drink, not for health reasons, but for time management reasons. These days, I often go from one conference call to another, then head from one meeting to another, to writing one thing or another -- and so I literally barely have time to hit the restroom -- let alone rest.
It seems every morning I wake up to face a list of 20 things to do, with time only to do 10, and somehow I always wind up squishing in 30.
In The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, author Sogyal Rinpoche describes a Western tendency he calls "active laziness": the need to compulsively cram your life with a myriad of unimportant activities, leaving little time to confront what really matters. He jokingly renames the petty projects called "responsibilities" as "irresponsiblities."
What Rinpoche describes is reminiscent of what author Milan Kundera philosophized about in his book Slowness, a slender volume I ironically sped through in a night. Kundera explains how we live in a highly sped-up culture, and that our need for speed promotes forgetting. For example: If you want to forget something, you will pick up speed walking down the street. If you want to remember something, you'll slow down your steps.
Kundera warns how speeding up your life not only keeps you from remembering daily details ("Oops! Forgot to pick up more milk!") but also keeps you forgetful about your overall life values and how to live your most passion-filled, love-filled, growth-filled, fun-filled life.
Meaning? The next time you find yourself racing quickly down the street, know that you're not only running to your next appointment, you are literally running from contact with your truest feelings, deepest needs and most valuable insights.
With this in mind, I would love to encourage everyone to take DAILY BREATHERS, where you literally take time to focus on your breathing, which is a form of healthful meditation that can clear your mind and create more clarity.
DAILY BREATHER ASSIGNMENT: Set aside 30 minutes to sit in a quiet place, and focus on breathing out negativity, breathing in positivity, breathing out fear, breathing in courage, breathing out anger, breathing in love, breathing out worry, breathing in gratitude. Repeat this process until you feel calm, relaxed, centered -- and recharged, dammit! When you've finished your DAILY BREATHER, look at your TO DO LIST, then figure out how you can re-write it so it becomes a TO DO WHAT MATTERS MOST LIST!
A good method for knowing how to edit your TO DO LIST is to tap into The Pareto Principle, an 80/20 rule which says 20 percent of your habits and efforts lead to 80 percent of results and enjoyment.
The Pareto Principle applies to so many things! For example:
20% of criminals account for 80% of crime
20% of motorists account for 80% of accidents
20% of beer drinkers drink 80% of the beer
When you look at your TO DO LIST of "responsibilities" consciously ask yourself which ones are in fact your 80-percent "irresponsibilites." Make sure you create a balanced list of activities relating to a variety of categories including: work, love, family, friendship, health, growth, community, entertainment, fitness, self-growth. Be sure to include the two top happiness determinators: spend more time with loved ones and do signature strengths!
(A hint for where to edit your 80-percent factor: According to a 2007 study, the average person spent two and a half to four hours a day watching TV -- the equivalent of a part time job. Yikes!)
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