Three strategies to gain the most from the time you have
by John G. Johnson
Most of us lead a multitude of lives in today’s world. Adding to this, we perform a wide array of activities throughout the course of a single day… and then multiply that by seven. The result? Little to no time is left for us to appreciate the finer things in life. It’s no secret that we live in a world of consequences, so over-stressing ourselves, suppressing opportunities for personal rejuvenation will have a negative impact on our mind and body. “To every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction” is a fundamental law of physics. This law applies to human beings as well, meaning the way we live our lives.
The benefits of taking time out for yourself cannot be overstated. However, oftentimes, this classic refrain, better known as an “excuse,” frequently can be heard… “If only there were more hours in the day, then I could get everything done.” And then there’s the popular belief that most people subscribe to because they are convinced that certain tasks need to get done…or else: “it’s impossible! I don’t have time. I have too many things to do!”
These imaginary reasons, excuses, fantasies, etc. imply that we have little to no control over our lives, and that outside forces - not us – are responsible for the life we choose to live. This couldn’t be further from the truth; it’s clearly not a useful attitude to support!.... Beliefs of any sort, or any particular point-of-view one adopts, aren’t cast with and set in concrete. Meaning, they can change.
Twenty-four hours make a day; seven days make a week. It’s the reality we have to work within. Since this is the case, then it’s more useful to perceive time differently and ask ourselves “How we can work with what we have in an efficient manner so as to move towards a higher quality of life?”
The following are three such strategies.
Order of Importance
Last month we spoke about values and asking the question, “What’s important to me in X?” We can ask this same question when it comes to ordering your list of things-to-do for a day or week. When you make your list, (day or week), prioritize your activities from – most important things to get done to least important things to get done. (Think of an inverted pyramid). Organizing your tasks this way has several advantages:
One, you will be able to see that what you thought was important to get done isn’t so after all. You now will have the choice of discarding those less-important activities to free up some time. It’s sort of like deleting non-essential files on your computer’s hard-drive to create additional space.
Two, in many instances, taking care of the most important things has the added advantage of simultaneously completing minor tasks as well. Think of it as collateral benefits – two (or several) for the price of one, so to speak.
Learning to Say “No!”
Think about it. How many times do we say “YES” to activities – without – taking into consideration the full consequences they will have on us and on the quality of time we want for ourselves? The reasons why we say “yes” to tasks are too numerous to mention. But learning to say “NO” to deadweight activities is a useful habit to embrace.
Take a moment to breathe –focused rhythmic breathing, for at least three minutes. This activates what Dr. Herbert Benson calls The Relaxation Response, a heightened physiological state deep rest that allows the body and mind to take a break and restore itself. Many breathing techniques for accessing this state of focused rest abound. One simple strategy is to: Breathe in for four counts, hold for three counts, and then exhale for eight counts. Repeat for at least three-minutes. That’s it. If you find your mind wandering, that’s fine. Just return back to your task. It’s like physical exercise; the more you practice the better your focus becomes.
From the womb to the tomb, time is already pre-determined for us, so we can say it’s limited. It’s not how much time we have, quantity-wise – it’s what we do with it - quality-wise - that makes life worth living.
©2013 John Johnson All rights reserved! Subscribe to our mailing list for workshops, newsletters and events. Go to: www.nlpsuccessbydesign.com
Almost Instant State Change
By Kevin Creedon (1960 - 2013)
Think of a problem. Those four words are used repeatedly throughout NLP trainings because most of the time NLP techniques are used in a prescriptive manner. That means that, after the fact, we can examine a problem, make new choices and mentally rehearse a more ideal performance in the future. But what about those events that we didn't prepare for? Is it possible to shift from negative feelings to more resourceful feelings in the moment, without prior planning or an external trigger?
I remember a time when I had to travel from New York to Boston for an important family event. Very early on a hot August morning, I went to pick up the rental car I had reserved a week before. The rental agent told me that, because some cars hadn’t been returned yet, I'd have to wait until one came in or make other arrangements. I finally got a car—two hours later. Now I was stuck in morning rush hour. Worse, there was a lot of repaving being done on the highway and the heat left a lot of overheated cars stalled on the road.
When I finally got to Boston (having missed the wedding and most of the reception) I was in an awful mood. One of my nephews, who was six at the time, asked me why I was so grumpy. I told him the whole story: the car rental, the traffic, the heat... And then he said, "But Uncle Kevin, you're not driving now."
Instant state change! One moment, I'm grumpy and reliving all the unpleasantness of the morning, and the next I'm enjoying myself.
At that point, I knew that positive state changes could happen suddenly, and faster than any NLP technique I had learned so far. But I didn't know how to generate them for myself. They were always a reaction to something external, usually something someone else said to me. Yet I was very curious about how we could learn to do the same thing for ourselves.
Emotions are Choices
William Glasser, M.D. in his book Choice Theory makes a strong case for the idea that emotions are choices, even when they don’t feel like it. Using my trip to Boston as an example, he would say that the reason I was grumpy with my family was not because I spent most of the day stuck in traffic, but because at the reception I was choosing to generate grumpy emotions.
Whether or not emotions are choices is true, it is a very useful assumption. Here's an experiment. Pretend that you are grumpy and mentally label your experience each of these ways:
1. I am grumpy.
2. I am feeling grumpy.
3. I am choosing to feel grumpy.
What are the differences for you? Which gives you the greatest freedom (and responsibility)?
When I taught my first Master Practitioner class, at graduation one of my students told me that he had just solved a big mystery: that much of what I taught in class was geared toward recognizing that we can choose how we feel. This was a powerful revelation for him—he had spent much of his life being angry, thinking he had no choice about it. He asked me why I didn't just tell everyone at the start that emotions can be chosen. "Who would have believed me?" I asked him.
Some people try to suppress or hide their emotions. Others venerate them, with the idea that ALL emotions have to be fully expressed, preferably with an audience, before an emotion is complete. I don't think emotions should be suppressed or avoided, but I’m surprised how often what I’m feeling seems to have been chosen blindly, without considering more than one possibility.
Here's another experiment to illustrate the ephemeral nature of emotions. Think of a small task that you can do, should get done and have been putting off. When you think about it, what emotions do you feel?
Next, ask yourself "Is there any reason I can't put off deciding how I'll feel about doing this until after it's done?"
Notice what happens. In my experience, both with myself and with my students and clients, if the answer is no, the negative feeling spontaneously disappears and we go and do the thing that we had been putting off.
Kevin Creedon's work lives on in and throughout the lives of the people he's touched in his unique way. A part of his legacy has been captured and preserved on this best-selling DVD - Bang Bang!
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