Archive for the 'Time management' Category

Now Is The Time to Do What You Love

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Recently, I dreamed of aunt who’d passed away that I’d been very close to.

I was driving around the old neighborhood in Yonkers when I saw her standing outside a local delicatessen, laughing and speaking animatedly to a friend. I was so excited to see her again and at the prospect of hearing her laugh - an infectious laugh she was famous for. I rushed to find a parking spot so that I could go to her immediately.

When I arrived at the deli her face lit up at seeing me, and she smiled warmly. I was about to embrace her when a business colleague appeared out of no where saying he needed my immediate attention. I was annoyed, but felt duty-bound to help him with this work related problem. I turned to my aunt and gestured that I’d be with her in a minute. I hoped to be able to deal with the work issue as quickly as possible so I could get on with spending some quality time with her.

After a few moments with my colleague the crisis was solved and I turned my attention back to my aunt, but she was gone! I was heart-broken to find that she’d disappeared and furious with the work colleague who’d diverted my attention.

When I awoke I was very disturbed about the dream. I decided I would meditate on it to see why it had upset me so much. As I relaxed an answer came to me.

I was upset because, once again, I’d allowed work to interfere with something I loved dearly. I realized that this dream was just a short-hand for my entire working life. I’d never allowed myself to pursue what I loved doing, except for the 3 years I took off to pursue my education, which were 3 of the happiest years I can remember. I’d always placed my passion for writing on the back burner and thought it insignificant compared to the “real” work that paid me well. I also realized I had no one to blame but myself - I could have told my work colleague to wait, but I hadn’t.

I’ve decided my dream is very important and urgent message I must listen to. It’s time to put all my energy into doing what I love - do it or die trying! I’d been contemplating going back into Private Banking again since it would give me a healthy and steady income, but when I think about actually having to do it, I feel weighted down and horribly depressed. I feel the message for me is, “Do what you love - and do it now.”

Has anyone else had a similar experience, or dream they’d like to share?

Is Advertising Making Us Poor?

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I read somewhere that on average Americans are exposed to between 500 to 1000 advertising messages per day. This bombardment comes to us in from television, radio, magazines, newspapers, the sides of buses, taxis and trucks, labels, logos, T-shirts and the Internet, to name a few plus other sources I may have forgotten to include. Advertisers spend billions of dollars each year to compel us to buy their products – and it seems to be working. We are a nation of debtors living in a nation deep in debt.

This statistic about advertising made me think of how much stuff I already own. In my adult life I’ve moved 8 times, and each time I threw, or gave away things I was no longer using, or had never used in the first place. After getting rid of these possessions not only did I feel lighter and freer, but I never missed them, and not for a second did I wish I’d kept any of it. The other thing that amazed me was that when I went to move the next time, I’d acquired as much stuff as I’d given away all over again.

I’ve now gotten to the point in my life where I no longer wish to add to my possessions. I’ve come to see that owning more stuff makes me less happy as I have to find the means to safeguard all of it. I’m tired of being driven to distraction by all the advertising pushing us to buy and own more and more. In a way, I think all this stuff clutters the mind and obscures the simple essence of what life is all about; enjoying time together and making memories with the people you love and care about.

Currently, the advertisement I find most annoying is one for Macy’s Department Store where every celebrity hawking a brand is in the store checking their wares. I absolutely hate this commercial. I am not interested in making any of these celebrities any richer, nor am I interested in buying their products. When did we all become such suckers that the mere dangling of some shiny object in front of us by some celebrity makes us run out and buy it?

The other thing that drives me crazy - store sales during holidays like Fourth of July, and Memorial Day, and Presidents Day, etc. Just because the store is having a sale must we run out and buy more of what we probably already have? I cannot think of a worse place to spend an afternoon on a beautiful day than inside a mall.

I can and do buy things when I need them, but I have to really need it. In these difficult economic times, I’m thinking more about my purchases and putting back more things than I buy. You can absolutely live without most of the stuff you take to the check-out counter, or order online. And, you can absolutely be happier when you aren’t receiving credit card bills in the mail that you have no way of paying off. Think about it – as soon as you put something on credit you become a slave to it. Is that the kind of life you want?

How much more precious time could you spend with friends and family if you weren’t shopping, storing, cleaning and maintaining more stuff you probably don’t need in the first place?

How to Be Healthy Wealthy and Wise

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

I’ve come across a lot of articles recently that say good health is tied into the cycles of the sun, or what are known as circadian rhythms. Could it be old Ben Franklin was on to something?

For a long time I’ve been trying to get to bed earlier so that I’ll get up earlier. I really enjoy that quiet time in the morning before there are many cars on the road. I love the stillness and banter of birds at the feeder on my deck. I find I do my best writing and thinking at that time too. An hour can slip by before I notice. It’s a time ripe with endless possibilities as the day awaits stretched ahead of us.

The problem I have is that I go to bed too darn late every night and miss many an awe-inspiring morning. I’m either staying up late to finish an article, watching that hilarious rerun of Seinfeld I’ve seen at least 5x but can’t turn-off, or just checking my email - for the 100th time. In any case, all these critical can’t be missed distractions prevent me from bounding out of bed when the sun rises.

From what I’ve read, artificial light from lamps, televisions and computers cuts into sleep time interfering with our sleep patterns which creates a state of perpetual jet lag. (To read more about this check out When you think about this it makes sense. After all what is jet lag? It’s when our internal body clock, or circadian rhythm, is not synchronized to the time where we’ve traveled. Our biological clock depends on the cues of light and dark to regulate not only sleep but a host of hormones that affect our health. Lack of sleep is also known to be a contributing factor to obesity. One study even showed that workers on prolonged night shift duty had a higher incidence of cancer.

A few weeks ago I managed to get to bed and be up early for 5 consecutive days. I felt better than I had in a long time and got everything accomplished on my to do list energetically and with ease. I thought finally I’d licked the burning the midnight oil habit forever. On the 5th day I had an obligation that kept me out well past my new 10 pm bedtime. In the morning I forced myself out of the bed at sunrise anyway but felt like a zombie all day. There’s nothing like lack of sleep to make you cranky and a mental dullard. The next day I slept a little later and went to bed a little later until after a few days I was back to my old routine of staying up until midnight. But, the memory of how exhilarated I felt at getting up with the sun stayed with me.

I have a number of very good friends who are natural early risers. And, while their eyeballs roll to the back of their heads at around 9:30 pm, I have to admit they are among the most productive people I know. Their houses are always spic and span; you’ll never find a dirty dish in their sink, and the best part is they get up and exercise every morning no matter what even on vacation – and that I truly admire.

In light of all this I’m planning to try my ‘early to bed and early to rise’ experiment again. This time I want it to stick, so I’m going for 30 days - since it takes that long to change a habit. I want to use that time to meditate and exercise and write before I have to start the work day. No more wasting time on self-sabotaging distractions. So, I’m apologizing in advance to anyone who’s with me when my eyeballs roll to the back of my head at 9:30 pm.

Too Many Obligations – So Little Time

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

“There is no question that people in the Western world can become consumed by work, travel, family and all kinds of demands and distractions. This is true for so many of us that we can often find ourselves unnecessarily irritable at the mention of another demand. Even when we plan to slow down, we can still become drawn into activities because we are habituated to doing so.” Science of Mind Magazine, May 2008 p.46

You know, I AM irritable these days.

Stress is one of those things that creeps-up on you little by little. At the time you join a new club or volunteer organization you have great intentions and your enthusiasm is high. You’re not thinking about how rushing to another meeting a few times a month will affect you. But, after adding layer upon layer of new responsibilities and commitments to our lives the pressure to meet them all puts a big squeeze on the time we have to just be.

When my Toastmasters group approached me to be the secretary I said no. We all have but 24 hours a day and just 7 days a week, so shouldn’t we be focusing on the pursuits that support the vision of our lives we’re working to create? Years ago I would have felt it impossible to say no to taking on the position of secretary, but not anymore.

This got me thinking about an aunt who always said, “Why not?” when asked by family to join them in an outing. She was always ready and willing to visit family, or when she was younger to entertain family in her home. She seemed to enjoy her life. Why is that? I think it was because she wasn’t so over committed and pressed for time that in between commitments all she wanted to do was be alone so she could decompress.

At times I don’t even want to answer the phone. I feel stretched too thin. Phone calls are stressful because in sales they’re never ending - plus many clients haven’t a clue of how that one last call at 9:30 pm could possibly push you over the edge. For parents it may be one more request by a child, or cleaning the counters of crumbs – again or finding dishes in the sink – again. In any case, downtime which is so underrated in our society is quite necessary and healthy. Without enough downtime I tend to go to the other extreme by pushing away all commitments even ones that might be fun.

That being said I’m thinking a lot more these days about the commitments I’ve taken on. Part of maturing is learning to say no. I think it’s healthy to disengage from activities that no longer contribute to creating the life you desire. Sometimes in order to ‘keep on keeping on’ we have to move on.