“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” (Hans Hoffman)
When you stop to realize that the reason we become hamsters on the proverbial wheel is that we do the same things as everyone else does at the same times that everyone else does every single day of our lives. Ranging from last-minute holiday shopping to leaving the house late every day to waiting until the last possible moment to do most of what we do in our lives! We are a culture of procrastinators and that is exactly what causes the vast majority of our stress.
Think about that. The things we choose to do are the very things that frustrate the heck out of us! The key word here is “choose.” SO…the simple question is, why do we do it to ourselves? Why are you creating your own stress? Do you not have enough without creating some more?
The great thing about that is that YOU have total control over changing it. You are the one creating the stress and frustration, so you are the only one who can do something about it. Pretty cool, no?
How do you “flip the switch?” Let’s talk about “the magic 10 minutes.” What magic 10 minutes, you ask? The magic 10 minutes that gets you back 2–4 hours a week.
Here is what I am talking about…
One example of this is the daily commute. Do you have any kind of commute in the morning or afternoon? If so, you most likely get caught up in traffic, especially if you live in a larger metropolitan area. This traffic is quite frustrating. It can stress you out. It can “make you late” (at least in YOUR mind). It is probably something to which you really do not look forward! Yet, it is a conscious decision you make every day of your life to engage in this stress.
I first discovered the “magic 10 minute” phenomenon when I had an early morning meeting every Thursday for 2 years. Being at a location 45 minutes from my house, I had to drive across town going from one busy freeway to another busy freeway to yet another busy freeway. Did I mention that it was on a weekday, early in the morning? Although I, like most people in our society, am an expert at the “last-minute” habit, one particular morning I found myself awake, showered, dressed and ready to leave the house about a half an hour earlier than usual.
Hmmmmmm…what to do, what to do. Oddly enough, my first thought was, “I can’t leave this early.” When I asked myself why, I answered, “because I will be extremely early.”
I thought about that for a moment. Something about it didn’t sound right.
Exactly what was wrong with being early I wondered? I realized at that moment that I was so brainwashed by “last-minute syndrome” that I could not see the value in leaving a few minutes early, taking my time, and having less stress!
I put on my coat, gathered a few things into my briefcase (of course, my stuff was scattered all over the dining room table because I had not put it in my briefcase the night before even though I know I needed it the next morning), and headed to my car.
A life-altering thing happened over the next 30 minutes. I discovered a window of opportunity. There were fewer cars on the road. Not only that, but I actually drove the speed limit the entire time I was on the freeways. No more stop and go. I MISSED a great deal of the usual traffic and because I missed the traffic, I was less stressed. Not only that, but it also took me less time to get where I was going.
When I arrived at my destination, early, I took a few minutes to ponder this discovery. It was so simple, so refreshing, and gave me a “gift of time.” Aren’t we all looking for those everyday?
I began to think about other areas of my life to which I could apply it. Here are 5 easy things I started doing that net me a collective 2–4 hours a week of what I call “found time:”
1. At the end of every day, take 5 minutes to put together all of the things you will need for the next day. This seems like common sense, but how often do you find yourself scrambling for your keys, your phone, your calendar, the information you need for the meeting in an hour that are still sitting on your printer from the day before? By spending 5 minutes the night before, you can save 15 minutes every morning, not to mention avoid starting off your day running around like the proverbial chicken with his head cut off.
2. Do your holiday shopping during 10 months of the year. Think that gives you enough time? Avoid all stores in November and December and you will eliminate a ton of stress and self-imposed time crunches. Think you will miss the great deals? Do you holiday shopping in January and February. They are often just as good, if not better, than the holiday sales themselves! Buy things “off-season” and you will save money, time, and lots of energy.
3. If you have a commute for work of any kind, find your “magic 10 minutes.” Leave as little as 10 minutes earlier than you normally do and, you may not only miss some of the extra traffic created by those people leaving at the same rush hour commute time everyday, but you also buy yourself a small window of time to allow for any unforeseen issues that may come up. That small window can make a huge difference!
4. Write down 3 things everyday that you will get done no matter what happens. Make them simple things…a quick phone call, respond to an e-mail, go online and pay that bill. Get in the habit of accomplishing things everyday. Develop the habit of checking all of those little things off of your to-do list early and often and you will find you have a lot more time for the big things you want to accomplish.
5. Use the “f” word more — FOCUS! Studies have shown that it takes several minutes to recover from an interruption. If you feel that you are “putting out fires” throughout your days, actually schedule “focus” times. You CAN find 30 minutes to close your door, turn off your phone, get out of your e-mail, etc. If you are telling yourself you cannot possibly do that, you are lying to yourself. End of discussion. Once you realize that you accomplish more in that 30 minutes than you do for the next 4 hours, you will never look back!
When you identify where you find your stress, you will find that you are creating most of it. The beauty of that is YOU are the only one who can lessen it simply by tweaking things you are already doing. Only then can you find where you get your energy. That is clarity.
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