"Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time,' is like saying 'I don't want to.'" - Lao Tzu
How To Make Time
Lately I've had several different friends say things like, "I don't know how you do it....Where do you find the time?...How do you manage your calendar?"
And let me just say, that I am by no means an expert in this area. I certainly have my days where I feel like I'm running around like a lunatic and get nothing accomplished. I think we all do. But, I will say that this deployment and being thrown into single mom life has forced me to get organized and laser focused with my time.
Up until recently I was working a full time job from home. That often meant getting up early to workout (or it wouldn't happen), rushing the kids to the bus, and dedicating the school day to my job. The evenings were then spent on freelance work. I was on the go constantly. Between work and the after school activities for the kids, sometimes I did wonder how I managed it all. I think it's part of how I cope - constantly having something to do. But the rest has to do with one thing - time blocking.
My full-time job taught me a lot about time blocking. Dedicating specific hours to specific tasks. Even though I'm not working there full time anymore, I continue to use that method. My Google calendar is color coded. There are my non-negotiables in red: workout and meditation. Freelance projects in orange. Play time in blue. My personal writing time in green. Kids activities in purple. You get the picture. With school out for summer, this does make juggling it all slightly more challenging. But, I'm taking it in stride. I'm grateful to have more flexibility with my calendar and to be able to spend quality time with the kiddos while still fitting in time to work, and of course enjoying some FUN in the sun!
The key with time blocking is uninterrupted focus. No multi-tasking. I'm a true believer, that multi-tasking doesn't work well. But, when I can stay focused, I can the job done, get it done well, and get it done faster than I would when I'm silmultaneously juggling other items on my to-do list. It's a win-win!
So while I was extremely flattered last week, when two mamas at the pool told me they follow me on Facebook and thought I was Super Mom; I'm really not. I'm just like all the rest of the mamas out there trying to get a million things done! Planning out my week on Sundays, and time blocking as much as possible, has really helped me find that healthy work life balance.
One thing I've noticed in so many of my Reiki sessions is that people struggle to find balance. Often they are pushing or resisting in different areas of their life, and it can throw them off kilter in mind, body, and spirit. That's why self-care, tuning in, listening to your body, and finding a system that helps keep you in balance are so incredibly important.
Start with paying attention to how you feel. For me, I know I'm starting to go down the rabbit hole of stress when I catch myself clenching my jaw, repeatedly having to stretch my neck, or even binging on chocolate chips. These are my signs I'm out of balance. Once I recognize it, I do this simple little exercise - I focus on my breathing, and move my awareness to the room that I am in. What can I see, what can I feel, what can I hear. Focusing on my senses and what's happening in the present moment get me out of my head.
Remember mindfulness isn't about improving yourself. It's about realizing where you already are. A cartoon from The New Yorker sums it up: Two monks are sitting side by side, meditating. The younger one is giving the older one a quizzical look, to which the older one responds, "Nothing happens next. This is it."
It's about paying attention to the experience in the present moment and not judging it. If your mind wanders, come back to focusing on your breath and think, "I am here now. I am here now."
Give it a try! What can it hurt? What methods have you tried to help keep balance in your life? Any tips are hacks you can share? I'd love to hear them.