I have been down the time management rabbit hole.
So many rabbits!!!
(Imagine this rabbit is carrying a watch and muttering, “I’m late!” over and over again, and you get the general gist of the last… oh… 20 years of my life or so.)
In no particular order, the most important things I’ve learned are to Prioritize, Keep a List, and… Um… Schedule. Yeah. That. Everything else pretty much comes under one of those three categories.
There is also this: You. Are. Never. Going. To. Be. Done.
The list of things you are not going to do in your life is infinite.
Infinite is a very very big number.
That many, plus some more. No, more than that.
How do you do that, then? Schedule, keep a list, and prioritize?
How do you decide, of all the infinite things you could be doing, what you should do?
What do you want? As much as you can, do things that are like that, or move you towards that.
Most of us spend most of our time doing things because we think we’re supposed to, or in pursuit of some other thing we think we’re supposed to want. Then it turns out that people are pretty bad at guessing what achieving any of those things is going to feel like, because they were pursuing them for some reason than actually having the experience.
They were looking for external evidence that they had made the right choices. And then it turned out… that life isn’t about external evidence. It’s really about how you feel about it.
That’s it: my big learning. Your success in life is, “How much you got to enjoy it while you were here.”
That’s not to say, “Go full hedonism.” Because it also turns out that making a difference, making connection, and genuinely appreciating things are the mark of enjoying it all.
Eating slowly and savouring it. Laughing with friends. Learning something compelling. Getting to do work that feels like it matters. Mastering something, or trying something new (which of those will feel right seems to depend your underlying personality, so I’m not going to prescribe one.)
How do you decide how to decide?
First, get good at no.
Do you spend a lot of time feeling the “I don’ wannas”? Do you sometimes find yourself wondering why you don’t want to do the things you want to do? Give yourself five minutes… are you using a stick where a carrot would do? Or are you doing things for the wrong reasons? Are you trying to prove something? Are you doing it for the right reasons, but you’re so tired you can’t enjoy it any longer? Resistance is subtle, but it’s always got information for you.
Then get good at small yes-es… What can you do just because you like it? Drink your tea slower? Go for a walk? Pet a cat?
More of that.
Shift the whole system to Trusting Yourself.
Trust your no (but question it, because a lot of us learned to deny our needs.) Trust your (genuine, heartfelt) yes.
When you say, “No, I’m fine,” hoping that the other person will recognize that you are, not, in fact, fine, and insist on helping, or giving, or praising, or blessing you in some other way. (Don’t expect them to – just notice that you’re doing that. In fact, people can’t read your mind… especially when *you* can’t even read your mind!)
Learn to feel the difference, when you say, “Yes,” but you mean, “No.” (“Sure, I’ll do that volunteer work for the school, I can just stay up until 3 AM, I didn’t really need to sleep the night before my big audition anyway…”)
The more you know what you really want, the more you’ll be able to do things for their own sake. Not because they will pay off down the road, not because of your future wealth, or health, or social status… but because they are pleasurable in and of themselves.
Which is how you win at life.