Time Management And Its Connections To Self-Mastery
I often view the world through blindspots and points of connectivity. For me, it is my “seeing the matrix” coding of sorts. I walk into rooms and can feel whose conversations are mutually creating energetic value or whose are involved in an energetic tug-o-war. So you can imagine how often my head spins round working on the creative side of big tech, which I love BTW. It is a beautiful thing to be deeply connected in your work and in your personal life however, it is not without its challenges. More recently (thanks COVID-19) I realized I still feel these blindspots and connection points even through digital meetings. What’s more, the meetings where it is only audio and no video actually exacerbate the feelings. For example, any time I bridge into webex or zoom I can FEEL other people's thoughts of anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, overconfidence, disinterest, shame, etc. all flowing through me whilst I deal with my own feelings and realities. High key, this is why I meditate so often, but that is a blog for another day. Fortunately, I have discovered a few ways of dealing (coping really) with this and I wanted to share.
Forward thinking Vs. Instant Gratification
Recently in my self-mastery journey I have been diving deep on the different components that make up the self. Specifically, studying the teachings of Dr. Na’im Akbar’s The Community of Self. I have also been taking Better Time Management training at work as a precaution because increased workload alongside home-schooling a 4-year old is NOT for the disorganized. Deeply diving into self is a staple in my life but I was surprised at how the time management training added new mechanisms to combat the anxieties and depressions quarantine was metastasizing in me. Normally, I can ride the unknowns of life pretty well, but for a myriad of reasons I found myself breaking down (entering depression) in a way I had no framework for. Insert the benefits of better time management. As I started to implement the time management mechanisms I could literally feel locked up Chakras (1st & 4th to be exact) opening and turning again. It was a whole breakthrough wrapped in a project management plan and it ultimately boiled down to separating my (quarantine) life into two buckets: forward thinking, and instant gratification. Now, I find myself back attuned with who I am on a macro and a micro level. The macro self being the forward thinking; consciousness, active will power, that I build the design for my weeks with. The micro self is the instant gratification; grounding myself daily, through reasoning, ego checking, stabilizing my senses and untethering from memories (samskara).
As a masculine centered male, forward thinking is where I usually find myself spending too much time. This is the constantly peeking around corners, tactically securing the perimeter parenting, and the proactive financial provider part of me that never allows my brain to shut off or, as my homie Shelly Bell would say, “get outta your head and drop into your body!” Forward thinking is the important - long term mission, values, goals, and big picture stuff you cannot ignore but also cannot get too focused on as it will overwhelm you and make it very hard to be present in any given moment. These are the things I choose to think, and plan for at the beginning of each week (Sunday evening or Monday morning) and they help me ensure I am being of service to myself and others. They involve:
My weekly plan for healthy eating
Incorporating time to read for wisdom development, leisure, and skill development
Checking in on where I am towards goals ( monthly budget, balancing my time, self-care, etc.)
- Where I stand on big projects in play
- Creating a detailed task list of this week’s small project activities (calls I need
to make, meetings that require follow up, things that stalled I need to remove)
- Effective calendar management (I like to color code my calendar to see where
I am spending my time)
A quick urgent vs. important assessment on all of the above
Usually instant gratification involves all the elephants in the room: where I am most lazy, and when I fall back into vices. As someone who constantly struggles with imposter syndrome, tackling instant gratification can mean facing some of my BIGGEST hurdles. This is why I see them as urgent - the “to do’s” that shout NOW!, because if I let them sit for more than 24-hours I find myself falling into unhealthy habits and shaming myself for not being strong enough to control them. However, instant gratification is where moderation must be applied. I will never “get it all done” nor will I be perfect. I have to be as empathetic with my lazy-vices-having-self as I am with my toddler when he sneaks and eats an entire dark chocolate bar at 6:00am on a Saturday and attempts to hide the still chocolaty wrapper under his bed... -_-
Instant gratification tackling (usually) involves:
Accepting the days (sometimes weeks) when I am too busy to eat healthy
Accepting that reading makes my brain hurt
When relaxing time opens, pushing myself to relax because I feel too anxious to enjoy it and may placate w/ toxic habits - usually binge watching, and or social media scrolling
During the work day
- Putting my phone on “do not disturb”
- No beating myself up when I still check the phone
- Praising myself when I go more than 30-minutes without checking my phone
Disagreeing, but committing to the uptick in work
Accepting that I will always be busy
Sometimes constantly self-correcting because emails grab my attention > to do items
Avoiding working late too often
I know at first this looks like a lot. I will not lie and tell you that it isn't. It is a lot of work, but only, at first. Like self-mastery, effective time management takes planning, execution, tinkering, and numerous failed attempts to figure out what specifically works for you. However, once you get started it gets easier and easier to execute if you stay committed. I required 2+ hours to proactively plan out my work week when I started this about a month ago, now, it takes me about 10-30 mins. My weekly eating habits plan from 3-years ago turned into a full fledged lifestyle so I spend little to no time worrying about it because A.) the only food in my house is food that fits into the plan and B.) the people I spend time with respect my lifestyle and hold me accountable to it. Even meditation gets easier when you realize that it is a state of being and not a state of sitting in silence. Yes, silent seated meditation often amplifies the ending effect, but you can achieve meditative state in tons of different ways. For example, “It’s like you have been on the couch watching TV, but you were so totally immersed in the show that you forgot where you were. Someone shook you, and now you’re back to the awareness that you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. Nothing else changed. You simply stopped projecting your sense of self onto that particular object of consciousness” ~ Michael A. Singer.
*This does not imply that watching TV is effective meditation BTW, but nice try ;-)
I encourage you to accept the forward thinking (macro) and instant gratification (micro) aspects of your life, training them into well-oiled balance is not as hard as you think. It just takes commitment. Seek resources to get started (I’ve planted some good ones throughout this post). Remember to be patient, and give yourself grace, not shame when you fall short. And, as always, if you need someone to talk to about it all, you can talk to me.