Sometimes it feels like there are never enough hours in a day to accomplish everything we set out to do. And although we create task lists to keep us on track to meet our goals, for some unseen reason new tasks always seem to pop up which need our attention. In essence, this creates an endless game of “whack-a-mole” in our lives. Not checking off the boxes on our task list can be both frustrating and stressful. And we know how stress can create states of exhaustion at every level which ultimately detracts from our wellbeing. Without conscious intervention, a vicious cycle is created which can ultimately control us.
I have been caught more than once in a frenetic and frantic whack-a-mole game where the faster I jump or run to complete a task list, the further behind I become. To gain precious minutes to chase the tasks on the list, something needs to be eliminated or cut short. Perhaps it’s your morning ritual? Or perhaps the group exercise class you enjoy so much or an evening walk to see the sunset. Food preparation could take a back seat, or even skipping eating altogether. And yet that mysterious task list doesn’t seem to end. However, at the end of the day we have exercised less, not taken time for nutrition, or things which support our wellbeing. The cumulative effect of not taking care of what brings us to our best and highest creates frustration and more stress, which can ultimately lead to an endless cycle of non-productivity and failing health.
In my book, I write about the “Rocks in Your Jar” which are those things that matter most to us. Prioritizing the things which bring us to our best and highest state energize and inspire us to be more productive are the “Big Rocks.” For me, a morning ritual which includes exercise and meditation centers me to be able to better handle the swirling tides of daily life. I’ve learned that instead of working harder, faster and more mindlessly, I slow down, take stock of where I am and breathe, stretch, eat or take a walk. Then I return with a clearer picture of what needs to be accomplished next. Although it might seem counter-productive to take a break of any kind when the task monster is demanding everything from you, regrouping is crucial. Setting a timer for working sessions and a timer for breaks has helped me immensely. I notice that my focus wanes at about 1hr and 15 minutes. At this point, my productivity is diminished, and I need a break. Typically taking 15-20 minutes for a stretch, a walk, meditation or snack energizes me for the next work session.
We’ve all heard the airline announcement to “Put Your Oxygen Mask on First Before Helping Those Around You.” This is especially true when it comes to supporting your best and highest self to accomplish your goals and to be of highest service to others. Carving out space for yourself will undoubtedly better support your wellbeing, those who rely on you, and your life more effectively.