This week I have been thinking a lot about how I use my time. Being such a part-time worker (for about 8 months now I’ve been virtually unemployed), I have quite a lot of it and I like to think I have been using it well. I realised however, that I have come to think of exercise as my work, and it feels as though it fills up all of my time. In reality however, the amount of time I spend exercising including my yoga practice- is only about 1 to 2 hours a day. So…where does the rest of the time go?
It dawned on me that I spend so much time DWELLING on the run I must go for later, or the class I will eventually have to get on my bike and cycle to, that I’m losing the entirety of my day to what is really a very small portion of it.
I decided it was time to heed my Mothers advice on living mindfully and start actively bringing myself back to NOW, throughout the course of each day.
I am a very results driven person: I am active and I am arty but when I do these things, I am often focussed on the final outcome of the activity and constantly striving to become more efficient: always wanting to get better results with less and less effort. It’s a recipe for disaster: I like the idea of doing things, get enjoyment from the planning of schemes and strategies, and from the dreams of how happy I’ll be when I reach each goal, but rarely from the actual implementation. Of course, this leads to demotivation and the putting-off of activity: I am already perceiving any benefit as a future event that it wont hurt just to put off for another day while I slob about and gorge myself on ice cream. I realised that if I can learn to appreciate the PROCESS of doing things then I will open myself up to really ENJOY my hobbies and interests. The enjoyment of process can turn every activity into an immediate, no waiting, benefit if I choose, rather than a necessary chore or something that must be ticked off a list of things I must do each day in order to define myself as an interesting, healthy, happy human being.
My game-plan has been one of the simplest I have ever tried to implement:
Whatever I am doing, I focus on it. If my mind wanders to what I need to do next or later or tomorrow, I just put it aside and really concentrate on the physical and mental sensations of the task in hand- be it eating breakfast, writing my journal, sending emails, anything at all- when it is completed or I have had enough, I can move on to the next thing.
And guess what, by putting future tasks aside and taking things one at a time, I don’t just forget to do them later (as my brain likes to tell me I will). By rejecting continual multi-tasking I have not become less productive. Quite the contrary in fact: I have been fitting far more into my days- social time as well as work, exercise as well as slobbing about in front of the TV.
One week in and it has already had a profound effect on my mindset, productivity and self-worth. By engaging with my PRESENT, I am beginning to find pleasure in my activities and feeling the potential of every minute of my day rather than becoming anxious about how I will ever get to a stage where EVERYTHING has been done and I can truly relax (an impossible goal in itself, yet one we continually torments ourselves with).
I have been getting more from my workouts too. By feeling the sensations the freedom I feel when I run, the strength and power I can generate when I put my mind (and body) to it- I have begun to genuinely enjoy the effort and have finally come to terms with the idea that none of this is necessarily about an end result, it’s about enjoying the ride.