Do you have a clear idea about what the things you need and want to do are, or do you find yourself stressed out that you might have forgotten something? Do you know how long the things you are currently taking on will take? Do you have an overview of what’s stuck and what’s working? Do you have a big picture of what your current obligations and commitments are, including the ones to yourself?
Do you find yourself constantly working on a project, gaining flow and traction in it, but with little time and focus left for the others? You are not alone. Most of us are very good when focusing on one thing for long periods of time.
They are times when we would like to give our undivided attention to one project, and get it off the ground as fast and well as we can (Mission 101.19 deals with this). And sometimes we afford to do this. But they are also times at which we must or want to juggle different projects, and make progress on two or more fronts. Some of these times are obvious because of our work schedule. Some are not obvious, but are easily detected on the inside of our mind.
One of the obstacles in spending our leisure time in a truly entertaining, relaxed or memorable manner is that by the time we get home, do a few domestic tasks, deal with family and hit the pocket of time that we might still have at the end of the day for our own leisure, we are too tired to even know what to do with it. Those are the times when we are most likely to spend most of your evening zoning out in front of the television, in front of a Facebook wall, or pointlessly searching for something nice to do, at the foggy edge of what's left of our focus.
When we forgo the things that we like for too long, and pressure or stress mount up at work or in relationships, it is much easier to overreact, or to feel like our life is somehow being taken away from us by all these other activities. All we need sometimes to feel peaceful and content is a nod towards our own identity, authenticity and unique pleasures. This requires time for ourselves.
Most of our time is spent in routines. We make our morning coffee and maybe look through our email in the morning. We take our lunch break, then meet with a certain colleague to eat together on a bench in the park if the weather is nice on Thursdays.
We light our candles and pour ourselves a glass of wine before getting into the bathtub. Or we settle down with a good book in bed for about an hour before our sleep time.
We tell ourselves that we don't have enough time to do all sorts of things that we would love to do.
We sometimes do projects in a hurry and we feel bad about it, because there's not enough time to do them properly.
When we are time-poor, we feel anxious and stressed out. It feels like there is not enough time to truly engage with our activities and the people around us. We sometimes end up believing that having a clear mental state and deploying our best efforts or full self on something are luxuries we don’t afford.
Many people move their nose in disgust when the subject of breaks is mentioned (I know, because I used to be one of those people). They see themselves as a furnace of continuous activity, which doesn't need any breaks, because, don't you know, they are very energetic.
The same people generally can end up taking many secret breaks throughout the day. And by secret breaks what I mean is not that they are hiding their breaks from their co-workers - I mean they are hiding their breaks from themselves.
Many of us have vague dreams about how we would like to travel and see more places, or explore more activities, hobbies, new restaurants, new events and people.
For a portion of these vague dreams to become reality, we must let ourselves plan for them, as if they were projects, and let ourselves organize them and turn them into reality.
You may have heard it before: our brains are not made for lots of interruptions, and we shouldn’t be multitasking.
This is because, when we multitask, we only get a boost, a feeling of doing more, when we keep on switching tasks. But the reality is that this constant switching between contexts costs the energy of our minds and, without realizing, we actually are much less productive when we switch than when we stay on one activity for a longer period of time.