How do you spend your time?
Does it feel like there is never enough of it? Does it feel like you are always running behind and trying to catch up with the clock? And most of all, do you wait to take care of YOU until everything on your to-do list is taken care of and your chores are wrapped up for the day? We both know that would mean you would never get around to it, because that makes YOU too far down on the to-do list and not enough of a priority.
Too busy for self-care?
Busy people tell me that they don’t have time for self-care, I tell them they don’t have time not to practice self-care. The thing is, when we take really good care of ourselves we are much more able to be busy. I know… It is a weird reverse psychology kind of thing, but when we are taking care of our body and our mind with good, healthy food and mindfulness practices, then we are so much more available, both physically and mentally, to take care of the projects ahead of us. Our self-care is what makes us able to be busy, but in a vibrant kind of way, not the pushing ourselves through kind of way.
Practicing mindful choices.
Another hurdle I hear is that there are no good choices around when we need them. Well then… plan for it! My point is that if it is not available, you need to make it available, because it is important to take care of yourself. At least, I hope you know that it is the foundation for you being busy. The essentials we need as human beings to keep us running are water, food, and sleep yet it is the first thing that goes when we are busy. Imagine you are a child and you are in your care. Would you make sure food was available? I thought so. We spend so much time planning for all kinds of stuff in our daily lives, getting food on the plate needs to be one of them. It is a commitment to make to ourselves, but it is also crucial that we wake up to the fact that food is our basic fuel and therefore, see it as nonnegotiable.
Spending better time with yourself.
Or spend your time better by knowing what to say yes to and what to say no to. One is about being mentally and emotionally available to the present moment, like focusing and mindfulness. The other is to make choices about what you spend your time on, and make sure you spend time of things that actually matter to you… for the right reasons.
This is the old issue about quality versus quantity. I want you to ask yourself honestly, how do you spend your time everyday?
Make a habit-log so you can see how you spend your day. Take it from the beginning and then see how many time-leaks you have in a day. Time-leaks are when you are doing something that is not really important, but you are doing it anyway because you think it may be important or because you are just passing time. Perhaps you are waiting for something to happen before you act. Perhaps you are reluctant to get started on a project, because you have doubt or confusion about the first step. Or perhaps you are feeling that your actions are dependent on other people.
There are moments when you think you are relaxing and “taking some time for you,” but that time for you is more of a distraction than you actually doing something good or relaxing for you. Facebook is one of those (sorry Facebook) where we tend to spend a lot of time just scrolling through to see what is up. We might think of it as being curious or “sharing,” but we are not really engaged or learning anything, nor are we contributing. Since I am also sharing this on Facebook, I hope this article is something of quality to read and share of course. When I say “of quality” I mean that it helps you learn something about you and aids you in moving forward.
So check your time-leaks.
We get stressed out about not having enough time, yet if we add it all up, we have the same amount of time everyday. Now we cannot control time, but we can master our choices about how we spend it.
I think of time as being elastic. When we are in the moment time feels bigger, more spacious, and non-tangible. It is similar to what happens when we lose track of time, but it becomes the mindless time that says…where did it go? Getting time back into our mastery is about being mindful about keeping our attention in the present moment. Not getting lost in the stories we tell ourselves about time and what till happen if we don’t make and so on. Or how we should, could, would have done something differently – now that is not the same as evaluating which is how we gain wisdom but it is about how we can do the best we can at any given moment. Being in the moment means your attention is on what is right here right now and that is how. Our thoughts is what takes us away from the present moment, it is what the human mind does. The practice is to continue to let go of distraction and keep coming back to the NOW.
Making time is the acknowledgement that we do have time or get time, we make time by how we navigate our options. Like saying no to distraction and yes to mindful choices. That is how we move from getting lost to practicing self-nourishment. The culprit of many of our time-leaks these days is all the distractions that come along everyday, like the notifications on our devices. Between emails coming in, text messages, phone calls, or notifications that someone liked your photo on Instagram, it is important to choose which notifications are really important to you. Omit those that take you away from what you need to do right now and instead use your notifications to set alerts for things that help you stay on track and support you in getting done what you need to do… like when you need to eat lunch so you can stay efficient, mindful, and productive for the rest of the day.
Create mindful habits.
You can only change what you are aware of, so to create new habits, you first have to become aware of the ones you have. Then you can make new choices that you can start practicing. That is why mindfulness is the crucial and often missing link in how we create new habits.
Let’s take Facebook again for example. This is not about either/or. We don’t have to completely forego something we might enjoy, but we might have to make it work better for us. That is the issue again about quality versus quantity. You can still be on Facebook, but you might want to choose a time of day to do so instead of getting distracted by notifications. You can also choose what kind of posts you would like to see. It is all about organizing yourself to receive content that matters to you. Same thing with the news. Don’t just mindlessly let it run in the background or have it pop up on your notifications. Pick a time to check in instead for the news that matter to you.
As for food and eating, same principle! Schedule how you are going to get food on your plate. That may be time to shop or cook, or a reminder of when you need to put in your order. Getting healthy is far less about the small details of the food you eat and far more about the consistency with which you make healthy choices. Planning for how you will get healthy food on your plate is the starting point for that. Too often I hear people say something like, “I should eat XYZ, but there was nothing around so I just ate whatever.” The first issue here is “should.” Getting healthy is not a should – it is a want. If it is not a want, it is not going to happen!
That brings us to the way we deal with “nothing around.” Surely you sometimes find yourself in a place you have never been before and there is no food around and you have to make due. But for most of us, that is not the case on a daily basis, so we have to commit to bringing food along with us to work for example. If it is important enough for you then it is quality time spent!
For example let’s talk about driving north for the weekend to go skiing. You probably check the snow conditions before you go. You probably book a place to stay overnight. Do you also check if there is good food around that you want to eat? If you are a foodie you will probably say yes, of course, but many people are not. However, you probably do check the fuel tank and make sure you have enough gas to get you there or at least to the next gas station. But do you check fuel for your body and how to tank up on your way?
We need to include our self-nourishment in the planning of our day to get healthy. There is really no way around it. It is a bit of a reality check, but you do need to put it on your schedule. Little by little it becomes second nature and a new habit, but to actually get started you need to plan your day to include time for you.
Getting mindful is about becoming aware and the first step is to get to know your habits. Step 1 in the online course is all about creating awareness of how you spend your time and teaching you how to shift your focus onto what and how you would like to spend it instead. We tend to “should” ourselves, we need to realize what it is we want, why it is important to us. Then we can create habits that work for us so we can stop wasting our time and instead use our time mindfully.
We tend to think that changing habits is easier than it is — that we should be able to “just do it.” It’s important to remember that what we’re trying to do is challenging and to change something that we normally don’t even think about. The thing about mindless habits and why they can seem hard to change is that they are mindless, which also makes them effortless. Changing them requires both effort and mindfulness. Only 5% of our actions are conscious, which is why we so often get stuck, unable to change our habits, even if we feel they aren’t working for us. You do have to shift these mindless actions into mindful choices to be able to make create new supporting habits. Your new habits automatically become mindless after they have been repeated several times, and they become new, natural actions for you. So give yourself a bit of leeway here (read: compassion)!
JOURNALING: GET TO KNOW YOUR HABITS
- Make a list or outline of what you do completely habitually and mindlessly every morning. Start with “swinging your legs over the edge of the bed, walking towards the…”
- Just notice how many habits you “perform” without even thinking about them. There is nothing “wrong” with your habits; we aren’t judging, we are simply making a point of going from mindless to mindful by noticing and realizing how much we do on autopilot every day.
- Habits to consider:
- What are your basic morning habits and patterns?
- What do you do first thing when you wake up?
- What do you do next?
- How much time do you spend with yourself getting emotionally and mentally ready for your day?
- How much time do you spend getting physically ready and taking care of yourself to be in top shape for the day?
- How ready do you feel for your day by the time you leave your home?
- Which morning habits are automatic and therefore effortless, but also mindless? Which habits are you making as mindful and intentional choices about your morning practice?
- Choose one habit that is not working for you.
- Decide on a new habit to replace it, and
- Consider how to make that new habit fit into your morning routine.
- Try it for a few days to see how it feels.
- When you are comfortable with that new habit, choose another one and do the same thing. Within one week, only change one or two habits. Allow the new habit to become “natural” before adding another.
To learn more about getting healthy and changing your habits with mindful nourishment; sign up for the Path for life 9-step online course to get on to your Path for sustainable health and weight-loss.