I once read the quote “Discipline is freedom“. I thought this was hilarious. I was wondering how that could be explained. And I got the answer not so long after it. I started a mindfulness training of 8 weeks where I had to meditate for 30 minutes each day. This was hard and I didn’t succeed to do it every day. A few times a week and I was pretty happy about that.
“Discipline is freedom”
I wasn’t really impressed with this mindfulness course. There was a lot of cognitive therapy incorporated and I thought I knew this already. Quite presumptuous. But this time it wasn’t about the theory, it was about the practice. I was quite good at that time knowing a lot and applying…nothing much.
Weirdly enough, this time I stuck to it. I meditated a few times a week for a couple of months. Most importantly, without huge expectations. And I remember one time, I was sitting at my desk, typing. And suddenly there was a pleasant flow of happiness going through me. I felt instantly happy for no reason in particular. I noticed that intensively. I remember it until this day.
And I knew this was because of my mindfulness practice. My teachers told me that this would occur. And I felt not only happy in that moment for ‘no reason’, I also felt satisfied that I effectuated this. If you want to start your own mindfulness practice, check out my video or blogpost about it.
What I also noticed in the months after that, was that I started to handle time differently.
I didn’t pound 10 things into my schedule anymore. It was easier to let it go even if my to do list wasn’t finished yet. And even better, I didn’t beat myself up anymore for it.
I have been rather organized and loved lists, plans and strategies. But I always overdid it whereas I felt exhausted and unsatisfied with myself and ‘my progress’.
So I want to share with you my opinion on successful and fulfilling time management.
There are a few suggestions that build the groundwork:
1. Always plan your day and your week
Create an overview. You tend to let things slip away when you start to feel like you lose control over things. It feels like chaos and you start to create even more chaos out of frustration. Buy an agenda and a note pad. Don’t do it on your cell phone, that is not visual enough. Get back to loving the old school pen and paper, people!
Sit down and take your time for this. This is the base of a successful time management. How would it work when you don’t even create time for proper time management? Think about what you like to achieve at the end of the week. And write that on your note pad. For now, it’s not in the correct order, more like brainstorming.
Then determine how much time you need to attain each activity. For this, read step 7 and 8 first. Write at what time you will start and when you will end. This will result into more realistic planning. It will prevent you from planning too much. And you want to avoid that at all costs because it will totally frustrate you, so you will want to quit planning all together again.
This makes it easier to see which activity fits at what day. If you have a long day at work or not, if you normally feel more tired that day or not. You create a sort of puzzle and you make sure the pieces fit.
You don’t want to do a whole houseclean when you had a long meeting that day. It won’t leave you feeling satisfied. And that’s what is always the main aim: happiness and fulfillment. Now you can fill in the right activity at the right day. When your done, connect with your body and emotions to be aware if this feels good. Did you put too much in one week? Did you want to cramp in a long work out after an intense day? Adjust if needed.
And know that this is a smart move out of self love that will keep your energy up in the end instead of failing.
2. Make it visual
I mentioned this already, but it is so important for your brain and your subconscious to have a visual cue. It makes you feel calm and in control because you can literally see what is going on. You can strikethrough what is already been done. It will motivate you. You can buy a bullet journal, an old-fashioned agenda (count me in). But I recommend also note pads for drafts. You want to keep your planning beautiful and attractive. You want to make it your friend.
3. Start easy
When you learn something new or you want to insert a new habit, I always advice to start small and easy. This way the chance for success is the highest. It will lead to motivation and inspiration and that is the engine that we want to stoke. If it’s a challenge for you to manage your time, start planning one thing only. And stick to that. For example: plan your workout or plan your house cleaning. Put it in your agenda, add a timetable and do this for a while. Until you feel successful about it. Then add another activity.
4. Start with things you like less and move up to more pleasant activities
This is a personal choice, for me this works the best. Feel what fits you. It motivates me to know that it only gets better.
5. Plan time for preparing and cleaning up
My hobbyhorse is definitely to take enough time for everything. This takes the stressfactor away. Yes you have a plan, not to weigh you down, but to support you. When you calculate time every day to put things in it’s rightful order, you will strikingly create more time.
First off, you don’t get stressed (which drains energy and slows you down). Second, you don’t loose time later when you have to do a massive clean up. Have a place for everything, place them into container boxes that look nice, and when you used it, always put it back. It’s just that simple. Have the discipline to do it this way and you create freedom. Freedom from stress, loss of control and obligated time to ultimately having to clean it up anyway.
6. Less is more
Surprisingly enough you tend to make the same mistake over and over. You pestle your day with 10 things and at the end of it you either did them all and feel frazzled or you did 6 and you beat yourself up over it. Neither of them is desirable don’t you think?
Step 1 will help you a great deal with that. Make it visual and add time. This will make it more realistic and insightful of what is truly possible. And have a look at step 7 and 8 as well. If you feel the need to add more, take a deep breath, tell yourself you are good enough and put the other activities at another day (or week!).
Freewheeling means you pull in time to do… nothing. Why? So you let your creativity have it’s way with you. This is time where you consciously sit down, relax your body, take a deep breath or three and ask yourself ‘what do I want to do right now?’. And let the answer come up.
And watch it, your mind is going to want to take over. It will tell you: the next to do on your list of course ! But we want quality not quantity on what we do on a daily basis.
Be willing to let go and most importantly, be ready to see yourself as good enough.
That is the key. If you are good enough with 5 things done instead of 10, then you are free. Then what you do, doesn’t define your worth anymore. It is how you do it, not how much you do.
I want to take step 7 a bit further. Remember, pick your pace. See this as a journey of self love, not another achievement. This is not how true time management works. It makes you more effective but also more loving.
Bring time in every day to love yourself.
Time to do something that gives you positive energy. This isn’t a luxury, this is a necessity. When the battery of your cell phone runs low, you charge it right? Get inspiration on a healthy me-time routine. If you like it more visual, watch my video 5 healthy morning routine ideas.
Now, let’s do the same thing for yourself. And sleeping and eating regularly is only one piece of the puzzle. I am talking about mental energy. Humans recharge themselves by pleasure. Doing things just for the sake of pleasure. In our hectic society you need to plan this. It feels weird at first, but it is so rewarding en energizing.
What gives you true pleasure? What makes you feel energized and what do you do only because it feels so good? Reading, painting, singing, running, walking the dog, baking…?
9. Count in extra time with every activity, approximately 10 to 15 minutes
When you plan, don’t make it tight.
Count in extra time because you have no control over others or outside circumstances.
Maybe your child needs you for help with it’s homework, maybe your partner has had a bad day and you want to cheer him or her up. If you have a tight schedule you will feel anxious. When you have extra time reckoned, you will feel rich in time. You will feel relaxed and open for unexpected things.
Time management is an act of self love.
It is not for neurotics or control freaks. It is about creating a life that makes you feel good. You want to move forward in life, achieve goals and at the same time, have room for pleasure.