Mindful Time Management

We are all visionaries, capable of bringing our gifts to the world. Yet, often we struggle to realize our visions.  The capacity to manage our time is a skill each of us has the capacity to develop in order to support our real gifts.

Here is a mindfully based time management process (and, yes, it really can be this simple, if combined with dedication, commitment, AND self care):

1. Identify your goals and visons

Have a brain dump. Don’t sensor, just write out all of your dreams and visions. Put your pen to paper and keep writing for ten minutes. In a day or two, reread, and from this writing, pull out the concrete items and put them in a list form. If you notice a progressive order, have this reflected in your list. Sometimes, if you have lots of pieces, write each individual item on a separate piece of small paper. Lay them out and play with them, see if you learn something from the process. If a linear list doesn’t work or evolve, then pin them to a wall in whatever pattern you want. Just get them out of your head.

2. Identify your obstacles

Repeat the free writing exercise above with your obstacles. Take ten minutes and get it all out. Return to it in a day or two, pull out the individual obstacles from your writing, and respond to each individual obstacle. Here is an example: “I don’t have time.” Might evolve to be “I will make time.” If you cannot access an alternative, then see if you can reframe your perspective in relation to the obstable. Some things cannot be changed on our desired timelines. For example, “I won’t be able to pubish  my book this year,” might be reframed as “I can create an outline for a book this year.”

3. Stop playing the habitual tapes and mantras in your head

Do not repeat negative statements to yourself about your goals and dreams. When you find yourself saying “I didn’t accomplish anything this weekend; I am so behind.” Stop. Breath. And do one simple thing. Make a plan for your next day to work on your project, schedule it in your planner, and move on. Dwelling in regret will not help you.

4. Map out a simple process /structure

Make a simple short term plan. Each week, pick one day or night to work on a project. Then don’t let it invade your life when you are not doing it. If a burning inspiration comes to you at a time other than the scheduled one, that you need to add to your work, ask yourself how you can most quickly get it out of you. You may not need to turn on your computer and open the file and reread everything to date, just grab paper, and write it down. Then return to what you were doing.

5. Create a physical space for holding things

Take your goals, and create a physical space for them. For example, you want to present at a conference, write and publish an article, and continue your training. Take out four folders. Call one “presentations”, one “writing”, one “publishing, and one “training.” Store your notes, related materials, drafts, etc, in these folders. Store those inspired thoughts from the example above in the correct folder, then on the day/night you scheduled to work on the project, pull out your folder, and dive in. This enables you to have boundries around your projects.

6. Take small steps

Try to remember that small steps take you much further than giant leaps. If you find yourself being pulled into big dreams and ideas and away from the task at hand, then take a ten minute visioning break. Repeat the first step, create a new folder, create a new date for the new project, and return to the task at hand.

7. Take care of yourself

No vision is worth your mental or physical well being. Take breaks. Eat well. Drink water. Do yoga. Dance. Take care of your needs and nurture yourself. Do not skip this step; it is essential.

8. Repeat and repeat. You are always a work in progress.

© Traci Childress, 2013.

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