Stay in Today
Posted on January 15, 2012 by Mark Strong, One of Thousands of Life Coaches on Noomii.
When too many of your hours are spent on responsibilities and too few are spent on activities of your choosing.
Why is time going so quickly? As the year draws to a close, many people who I work with as a life coach here in New York City are expressing dismay about the speed at which the days fly by. It doesn’t help that it’s already dark before rush hour! And our lengthening list of holiday to-dos adds to the sense of time pressure.
There are many reasons why you might feel that time is moving too fast. When too many of your hours are spent on responsibilities and too few are spent on activities of your choosing, then it’s natural to feel a sense of urgency as precious time slips away. (See last week’s posting on Integrating ‘Chose-tos’ with ‘Have-tos.’)
Another reason for the sense of time crunch comes from over-committing and over-scheduling. When you agree to do more than you can reasonably manage, then you literally do not have enough hours in the day to get everything done. (See previous posting on Rethinking Your Relationship with Time.)
The solution is one you’ve heard before, but it’s easy to forget it when you’re moving a mile a minute. It’s keeping your head in today. In other words, living in present versus the past or future. Here are some coaching ideas on this topic:
Do a mind-check. When you feel that frantic feeling coming on—the one that tells you that you don’t have enough time to get everything done—take a pause. Use your anxiety as a red flag that you need to take a step back and notice what you’re thinking about.
Are your worries based on projecting weeks or months in the future, wondering how things will turn out? Are you telling yourself that you’ll never get it all done? Just stop and observe—and then try to bring yourself back to today. If you keep your eyes on the task in front of you, you’ll move forward at the right pace.
Stop being speedy. Sometimes we add to our own sense of stress by keeping ourselves too wound up. There’s always going to be something else that has to get done in our work and personal lives. The goal isn’t to check that last thing off our to-do lists, because there will always be a new list. So you need to pace yourself through your commitments, and work in breaks and recovery to keep yourself from burning out.
I often say that it’s when you feel least able to take a break that you most need one. Even race cars need pit stops to refuel, so don’t think that you must keep going at the same pace without a break.
Plan but don’t obsess. Planning is important to help keep us on track. But planning is all about the future, and there is such thing as over-planning, fixating so much on what’s to come that you lose your effectiveness in the moment. The key is to schedule in regular time for future planning, and then refocus on the present and on what you are doing today, right now.
Do one thing at a time. You may have noticed that the times you feel the most discombobulated are times when you are juggling two or more tasks at once. Sometimes we may think multi-tasking is the only way we can get everything done, but it’s often a false economy, leading to errors and inability to do any of the tasks wholeheartedly. Instead, see if you can fully complete each task before moving onto the next one. You’ll benefit from the added focus that comes with being single-minded.