Ok. Here’s what I’ve decided. I have a somewhat complex relationship with time similar to some people’s somewhat complex relationship with food. I’ve managed to deal with it for the most part and make it look pretty good from the outside, similar to how someone might diet themselves into submission but always worry about a relapse or how someone might binge and binge on junk food and then feel terrible, shameful and yucky afterward, even if it doesn’t affect their actual weight, either because they don’t do it very often or because there’s purging involved too. This is not to make light of anyone’s difficulties with food, or to say that I’m experiencing the same thing as someone with those difficulties. However I do believe there are similarities, and that they’re both serious issues that can get in the way of living our best lives. So I’m going to step out into the open and talk about it – and see what happens when I shed a little light on something that I think is a big challenge for many.
Just like overweight people know that all they need to do is eat less and move more, I know that all I need to do is use my time wisely and take care of my stuff. Duh. Easy. So if it were that simple we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic. And we wouldn’t have television shows like hoarders, and there would never be a giant pile of papers about ten inches high on my desk.
I’ve determined that it’s time to take a new approach to my time and organization. I’m going to use the science behind my thoughts and behaviors to change my relationship with my time and my stuff. I’m using Martha Beck’s book, The Four Day Win, as a guide. Even though it’s written for weight loss, I’m figuring out that it’s all the same stuff. Let me explain.
Martha says what happens when you put yourself on a diet is that you end up with “famine brain”. All you think about is food and you are suddenly hungrier than ever, and your body, now that it’s received signals from your brain that all the food is being reduced, does everything it can to conserve energy and hang onto every molecule of fat just in case you never eat again.
Similarly, when I try to “finally get fully organized and manage my time like a grown up”, my mind starts freaking out with cries of, “There’s not enough time!” Which then causes my body to immediately want to give up and go to sleep. It’s truly fascinating.
So today was the first day of a new approach, which includes the “actual dealing with time and stuff” part, similar to “actually eating less and moving more”. I’m spending ten minutes per day on paper piles of any type – they’re actually not too bad right now because I’ve been working on them in this way for months. So I’m sort of at the spot that someone might be who is looking to shed the last 15 pounds to get to their most natural, “feel good” weight. I’m looking to shift my attitude toward time and stuff in a way that will “feel good” forever.
My reward for doing ten minutes on my paper piles is a sticker. Yep. That’s all I need. I love to put a sticker on my calendar! After four days, I get a bigger reward, which is 30 minutes of doing absolutely whatever I feel like doing, ideally a creative something that I keep putting off, but I’m going to wait and see about that part.
Most importantly, the other thing I’m doing for the next four days (I get a sticker for this as well) is observing my “time famine” brain. Observing and watching and learning. Getting really curious about what my brain has to say. Today, knowing that this was the first day of a new approach to time, I slept in. Not part of the plan! Thanks, brain! Quite a bit later I felt panicky when I looked at the clock and it was already 1 p.m. My mind was screeching, “NOT ENOUGH TIME!!! AAAAAHHH!!!” Which led to my body responding with, “Give up! GO TO SLEEP!” I just observed nonchalantly. And did my work. And hosted an incredibly beautiful moonlit wordless walk tonight. More on that, and time, and turtles, tomorrow. Yay!