This past week I’ve been reflecting upon time management. Well, to be more specific, time management in relation to projects, tasks, and, then, after a conversation with a colleague of mine, energy.
Have you ever thought about scheduling your day by the energy you exert in relation to the projects or tasks you work on? Well, I had never really thought about my time this way either.
Or rather, I think a lot about how much energy a project or task takes, yet I have never created a system for analyzing my energy output.
Well, it’s about time, I think. Pun intended.
Before we go on further in the discussion, however, let’s first take a look at my projects and tasks in a linear format, which is the picture below.
I find it helpful to write out the projects and tasks I am responsible for.
Yet, in the linear version to the left, I am missing several pieces needed to get a grasp on the whole picture.
Meaning, how do the projects and tasks relate to the department priorities? Good question.
Let’s take a look.
Below is a mind map to assist in answering this question.
Completing the whiteboard mind map helped me see a couple of things that are not apparent when data or information is presented linearly.
Here are some of the things I learned from mapping the projects and tasks nonlinearly.
Most of my time is currently spent in meeting the department’s sustainability priority.
There are at least three commitments that aren’t connected to a department priority. They are the bubbles, or circles, that are off to the side, disconnected from the rest of the mind map.
We are working on systems in each program, yet they are different systems.
And here is a question that arose after reflecting upon this mind map overnight.
How does my time on these various projects and tasks vary as a function of energy output?
It is very common to measure out time in, well, units of time. For instance, project A takes X amount of time, whereas project B takes Y amount of time. Helpful.
Yet, what we also know about time is that, for instance, you can work on a project or task for an hour, let’s say, without exerting that much energy. While, conversely, you can spend 30-minutes on a project or task that requires much more mental, or physical, output. How do you then manage your time?
If you simply gauge or measure all projects the same way, you may, for instance, have a work day that is full of high energy outputs, and a day that has very little, which may cause a balance issue.
My suggestion? Good question.
Well, I plan to remap my projects and tasks by energy output. It might look something like this.
A rough sketch this is, however, even in this rough sketch, you can get the idea.
What this sketch does not take into account, or, rather, does not, at this time, have space for, are those projects that fall outside the department priorities.
More reflection for me.
Alright, that wraps up this entry in the reflection series on thinking about time differently.
Remember, if we simply use time as the only way we measure our output, without considering energy, for instance, we may be missing a big piece of the overall framework of how we schedule ourselves and our work.
The end of January. Wow. It’s been almost a year since the pandemic broke out here locally. What a year. And, within 2.5 months of starting to work at home, my first blog post was published. Since then, I’ve created 295 posts, began following so many amazing blogs and inspiring people, and have now over 450 followers. Awesome, and so much fun.
Alright, let’s get to the writing part.
My 2 Favorite Posts This Week
I want to do something different this week, and for a few weeks. Instead of simply recapping all that I wrote, I’m going to choose my favorite 2 or 3 posts each week and provide some of the inspiration, thinking, and reflecting that went into the post. Ready? Good. Here we go.
The reminiscence poem was created as a multi-reflection on my marriage, my childhood, and having two beautiful boys. All three reflections combined in unique ways to create a poem about pain and joy, and recollections about simpler times.
One of the things I love the most about writing poetry, outside of the sheer exuberance I get when an idea flows through me, is looking back, reflecting, and putting on paper some joyous, and yes, sometimes painful life events.
Tanka #2 was created as a reflection on my meditation practice, and the chasing we sometimes do as humans, trying to get to the next thing, and then the next. Reflecting on meditation and then the concept of chasing after things is a paradox, just like all of life.
The last two lines are a reflection upon creating the future from the present moment, with the knowing that already living inside of me, all of us, are the past, present, and future. As, they are one.
Alright, that’s my reflection on the reflections that inspired the two poems above. That was fun. Let’s now turn to one of my other favorite topics, music.
I’ve posted about my love for music before, though it’s been a while. I grew up in a household where music was always present. Whether that was through the TV and MTV, my dad playing his guitar, or sisters, mom, or myself playing the radio, cassettes, or an 8-track.
Yes, I did just reference the radio, cassette tapes, and 8-tracks in the same sentence. I did grow up in the late 70’s and 80’s though.
In this entry on music, I want to do two things. Show you the guitar I bought today, and embed a youtube of one of my favorite songs.
Alright, first, here is a pic of the guitar I bought today. As I mentioned, my dad played the guitar. Though I tinkered with the guitar as a child, youth, and young adult, it’s been years, and I am excited to take some lessons and begin to play.
Pretty, yes? Yes, I think so too.
Alright, now here is one of my favorite songs. I am present to it, because my oldest son played it on the guitars we looked at on Saturday. Was so beautiful.
Here you go.
I just adore this song. Always have, and always will.
Alright, friends, that’s all for this week.
Remember, to keep breathing and take time for yourself. It’s important.
Alright, as we embark on a new year, it only seems fitting to, yes, take a look at last week’s writing real quick, and then? Well, we’ll take a look at two new series I am working on for this new year; one launched, and one in production. And, then a small reflection on this past year, and my hopes for 2021. Let’s get started, shall we? Good. Here we go.
Though I did work a little last week, I was on official holiday, as it is the only time each year that the college closes. Meaning, I had more time to write. A few more posts were published, and I did some writing for future weeks, which was really nice. Here then, is what was published last week.
Nice. Funnily enough, one of my favorite posts this week was the baking post. Different, and fun. Next week? Yep.
I’ve got two posts scheduled already, one for Friday morning, and one for Saturday morning. The former is the second installment, though it is written as the first, in the My One Thing series, which I’ll write more about in a minute, and then the latter is the second-half of the second installment in the Leadership series.
I also have several poems written, and am also working on scheduling those in advance. Though, again, with poetry, I like the space to create on the fly, as insights occur. I’ll be managing that balance as we move forward this year.
Alright, new series time.
I describe the insight behind the My One Thing series in the upcoming installment. Yet, real quick, will write that I am excited about a series that will cover, and capture, a moment in time, and expand out to, well, life, I suppose. The main idea behind the series is to focus and write about My One Thing of the moment, or evening, morning, afternoon, day, week, month, quarter, year, or longer.
You can see an example of this new series in the baking post above. And, the second?
I’ve been looking into and researching haikus, and I have to say they are quite beautiful. I’ve read many from your amazing blogs, and am currently reflecting upon creating a haiku series.
Though I love the stream of consciousness involved in poetry, there is also something quite magical about a 5, 7, 5 syllable sound pattern that is exquisite in its creation and manifestation. I am going to create a few haikus over the next week, and then, we will see.
Alright, how about a quick reflection.
As I look back at last year, I see a lot of pain, anger, frustration, worry, sadness, grief, and, well, many other emotions and actions, which I definitely felt and worked through this year, and I know were present for people around the world.
We were taken on a world upending, in many ways, tour de force of the power of nature. And, though the aforementioned emotions and actions were a reality, I did also see other emotions and actions in play this past year. Such as?
Acts of kindness, generosity, love, compassion, empathy, reciprocity, and many more. Yes, it was a tough year, yet even in that toughness there was also beauty.
Which leads me into my hopes to see more kindness, generosity, love, compassion, empathy, and reciprocity this coming year. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a lot of work to do in this country from many perspectives, equity and justice being one of them.
I look forward to progress this year on the continual dismantling of the, still in place, systems and structures of oppression in this country; and, I have hope that the vaccine will, at the very least, prepare a runway for us all to be back together again at some point this year.
Continue to take the actions we can to create the world we all want to see and live in. It doesn’t matter how small or large the actions are. It’s not about that. It’s about taking that one step, that one action.
And, on that note, I’ll leave you this week with a quote that speaks to that point.
“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” -Dalai Lama
Well, let’s start with this past week’s reflections, shall we? Good. Here we go.
Alright, so this past week, I’ve been reflecting a lot upon inspiration. What is inspiration, where does it come from, how can we get more of it, and what do we do if we run out of it. Very important questions. And?
Well, this week I’ve also been reflecting upon the creation of a new series. A series that can encompass a multitude of topics, and, yep, this is it, and inspiration will be the first topic.
Some of these developmental discussions will be longer, and some will be shorter. It will depend.
Alright, for this entry, let’s tackle the first question on inspiration. Ready? Good. Let’s go.
Where Does Inspiration Come From?
I really do love this topic, as it seems so simple, right? Inspiration, well, it’s all around us. Some people say they find nature inspirational, or other people in their lives, such as their friends and family, or coworkers. And, that is beautiful. Truely. Yet, there is something missing here. Do you know what it is? Hm.
It is the viewpoint. Meaning?
That inspiration does not live outside of you. Nope. It lives inside of you. We look outward and place inspiration onto other things and people, yet that inspiration comes from within. Always has come from within, and always will come from within.
Why does this matter to your development? Good question. Here is one, of many, reasons why.
When we know inspiration comes from within, we stop looking outside of ourselves for our own inspiration. Being aware of the source of our inspiration is important to our development, because when we fully realize that our inspiration comes from within, we are not bound to the changing tides of people and things. Simple. And?
Well, we know that change is inevitable. It is part of life. Yep. And, when we get clear on the fact that inspiration does not live in the changing world, that, in fact, it can be developed, and maintained, regardless of external circumstances, we become more powerful. Really.
Does that mean that we don’t ever feel down, or stressed, or sad? No, it does not. We are meant to feel all of our emotions; to feel them, know them, and learn how to talk about them.
And, yet, we can still find our inspiration even during the most stressful times. Why? Because even though we may consider a situation stressful, we know that our inspiration is always there. Waiting for us.
Alright, so what can we do to connect, or reconnect, to our own inspiration? I think there is one thing we can all do that will assist in making our connection, or reconnection, to our inspiration stronger. What’s that?
Make time for yourself. A must.
When we create time for ourselves, to be with ourselves, just for ourselves, we get to know ourselves better. And, the more we know ourselves, the more clear on our own inspiration we become. Really.
Next time, then, when things are really hectic, and you are feeling overwhelmed, stop. Stop doing what you are doing, and go for a walk, sit down under a tree and look around, or look up at the beautiful stars in the sky. Stop and just be.
For it is in this space, where your inspiration will find you.
As some of you may know, I am now also creating videos to accompany some of my blogs. Here, then, is a blog I wrote a few weeks ago, and a video that was created to engage with you in a different way. Some might also find having access to both narrative and video formats helpful. Be well.
3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy
Avoid much? We all do. However, some of us avoid more than others. Might that be you? It was me for a long time. Why do you imagine avoidance is an ineffective strategy? Not sure. Let’s take a look at three reasons why.
1. It is not healthy
When we avoid things, we are, in effect, continuing to hold those things within us. Continue to do that, and you will be carrying around a lot of unnecessary baggage. Tiring.
You would think that by avoiding things we are uncomfortable with, do not want to do, or face, that we are creating more space within us. However, that is not the way it works. It’s the idea of the situation we are faced with that will continue to haunt us. Especially, if we believe deep down that we should be doing that thing, or facing that situation.
Let me give you an example
For a long time, I did not pay attention to my calendar. Now, in the position I am currently in, that ineffective strategy will not work for long. At that time, I knew that I should be paying more attention to my calendar, working to schedule myself more effectively, however, I ignored it. Why?
I simply didn’t want to take the time needed to work through it. Simple. Instead, I avoided it at all costs. What happened? People began to ask why my calendar was such a mess. Nice. I love when those we trust inquire, and make us think. Helpful. As was digging into my calendar and making the necessary adjustments.
Before doing the work in my calendar, it bothered me every time I looked at it. However, by organizing and prioritizing my calendar, I traded a fixed amount of time to do the work, with a continuous mental distraction. More effective.
2. It keeps you stuck
When we spend our mental energy on avoiding things, we have less mental capacity to try and do new things. Essentially, we sacrifice some of our creative potential. How much is sacrificed?
Depends on how much you avoid things. If you avoid often, then your creative potential will be severely impacted.
And, being stuck is no fun. Often, people are not even aware that they are stuck; nor do they recognize that they are avoiding things. The years I spent avoiding, I was aware of some of my avoidance, most I was not.
Here is another example
As I’ve written about in other posts, there was a time when I drank a lot. Too much. I knew that there was an issue, however, I made justifications and excuses for my behavior. Sort of a double burden. As my avoidance of the real issue, which at the time I was unaware of, was compounded by creating excuses and justifications. Exhausting. Really.
And, ultimately not helpful. Not physically, mentally, or spiritually. When living this way, you end up on the proverbial hamster wheel.
Doing the same thing every day, knowing you are doing it, making excuses and justifications for doing so, all the while staying in place. No movement.
3. You cannot grow
When we are avoiding, we are not moving; and, if we are not moving, we are not growing. Simple.
Growth is such an important part of the human experience. Some growth just comes our way. We didn’t invite it, yet it shows up on our doorstep. Some growth we actively seek out. We look for the opportunity.
Either way, having experiences that help us grow is one of the most wonderful things about being human.
Yet, when we spend large amounts of time avoiding things, we are limiting our ability to grow. Why? Because, when we spend that much time avoiding things, we have no capacity to seek out growth opportunities. We are too busy. Too busy avoiding, and making excuses and justifications for why we are avoidant.
When I was working in the private sector, I took on a new assignment with a new sales team, and within 6-months, I was exhausted, and heavily avoidant. I went from a top-performing team, to a team that was in need of development. As was I.
Instead of welcoming the growth opportunity, however, I avoided it, and actually ended up leaving the company within another 3 months. Why?
I was exhausted. That is true. Yet, why I was exhausted had less to do with the work, and more to do with my mental attitude.
I was avoiding the opportunity to grow, and making excuses and justifications for why it wasn’t working. Well, the only thing that wasn’t working was my thinking. And, that is okay. It is not a judgement. It happens to people all the time.
The point is to become aware of these types of opportunities. Being aware of how we avoid things creates the opportunity to better understand ourselves, and all of those around us.
It also provides us the opportunity to grow, if we choose to engage with ourselves, inquire into our avoidance, and do something about it.
What can you do?
Here are three strategies I use to get out of my avoidance, and into action.
Notice when you are avoiding something, and write it down – wiring it down creates more awareness about whatever it is that you are avoiding.
Create time to reflect and contemplate – create the time necessary to better understand why you are avoiding the task or situation. Until you really know why, you will probably not move forward in that area of your life.
Take an action – once you are clear on why you are avoiding something, take an action. Create a context to make some progress on the task or situation. It doesn’t mean that it will be complete, or solved, however, you will have moved forward.
When we are less avoidant, we have more time, more creative capacity, and more energy to do more things. Essentially, we can hold more. And, when we can hold more, and do more, we can be more.
Remember, we are all at times avoidant. Yet, if you find yourself more avoidant than you’d like to be, try some of the strategies outlined above, and get yourself moving again.
What do our emotions have to do with our relationships? Do they really matter that much? And, how much of our emotional selves do we share with those that are closest to us? Not sure, well, this is one area that I’ve been exploring a lot the past two years, so, let’s take a look.
Here is how it worked for me prior to 2 years ago. Something would happen, and I would react to my emotion. Didn’t really matter what the situation was, the event happened, and I would react. Sometimes the reactive emotion would be sadness, sometimes frustration, and sometimes anger.
Not helpful. Why?
Because when we react to our emotions without the time to process that emotion, we are in effect causing a possible chain reaction, especially if your partner is like you. Think about it. How many times have you gotten angry about something, and then you lashed out, unintentionally, and then your partner, or friend, lashed out right back at you? Happens all the time.
Action, reaction; or, reaction, action; or reaction, reaction. A vicious circle, and cycle.
What can we do?
One thing we can do, which I’ve written about in other posts, is slow down our reaction time. How? One way is by adding reflection, and meditation time, into our daily lives. Having the space and time to consider all of our options when confronted with any situation is needed, and necessary.
Though most people don’t prioritize reflection and meditation, there are many benefits, which suggest that doing so is beneficial for our daily lives, and for our long-term health.
What happens when we add time for reflection and meditation into our lives?
When we choose to intentionally slow down, and create more time and space for ourselves to be quiet and to think more thoughtfully about our lives, we actually become less reactive to ourselves. And, when we are less reactive to our own emotions, and thoughts, we are less reactive to other people and their emotions. We create more time, space, reflective possibilities, and actually choice, instead of reaction.
What other benefits are there to making time to reflect and practice mediation?
There are many benefits of making the time to reflect on our lives, and to practice meditation.
Here are a few
We are less reactive to ourselves, and all of those around us.
We have more time to fully consider all of our options
We better understand our own thoughts and emotions
We create the space to become more resilient
When we are less reactive, have more time, understand ourselves better, and become more resilient, we are able to hold more and handle more. We are also able to do more, to create more possibilities for ourselves and those around us.
Does this mean that I will never again react?
No. Reaction is needed and necessary when there is danger, or when something urgent is occurring, and a choice is needed right away. However, what I’ve come to realize is that time for reflection can be added into most situations that arise.
As you practice meditation and make time for reflection, you are able to make choices with more clarity. You, in fact, have more clarity. Why? Because you know yourself better, both your mind and your body. You are in touch with yourself on a deeper level, which, in and of itself, creates more time.
What does all of this have to do with my relationships?
When you understand yourself on a deeper level, you also understand those around you better. Why? Because we are all human. We all have the same set of emotions, and thinking mechanism, our mind.
Knowing yourself well, is one of the most important parts of having a healthy relationship. Which does not mean, however, that all of your relationships will be easy. In fact, it may mean that some of your relationships will be harder. Why?
Because as you understand yourself better, you may find that you are less compatible with someone you’ve always been compatible with. It can be hard. However, overall, I think you will realize that understanding yourself better creates the opportunity to have the strongest relationships possible.
And, that is the case, because you have created a stronger relationship with yourself first.