Image via WikipediaMindSieve has filtered several posts this year with my opinion and/or response regarding "calls" I, and perhaps you, have received in our lives. I continue to circulate the ideas of what feeds me with an eye toward my personal scheduling of activity and the scheduling I observe of others around me. Visiting my list of regular blogsites, Abbey of the Arts contributed poetry and thoughts on the "caring for oneself" subject in September.
Last week, sensing the temptation to become over-committed in my volunteer activities, I pulled up in my mind an old business tool. It was presented to me eons ago in a time-management seminar and I've returned to it time and again to get myself focused once more.
It's a simple spreadsheet of a week's hours (7 x 24 =168) with my approximate recording of time I spend on daily and monthly activities. Here's a little sample below. You might want to map out a week for yourself.
|ACTIVITIES/TASKS *||HOURS PER WEEK|
|1..Sleeping soundly as possible - I have no small children|
|2..Dining at home/out - I love out!|
|3..Creative Stuff/Collages/Poetry - this is my goal!|
|4..Bathing/grooming/patching - I require a lot of work!|
|5..Blogging - this is important to me|
|6..Prayer/Meditation - and so is this!|
|7..Gourmet Food Prep, sorta..|
I need endorphins & muscle and flexibility!
|10.Creative Grocery Shopping -|
including a list each time!
Takes my mind off everything
|12.Tiptoeing thru Household everyday Chores - I am lucky to have some weekly help|
|13.Reading articles, theology, instruction manuals, reviewing others' artwork|
|14.Renovare Spiritual Formation Study & Group|
|15.Volunteer Boards - 3 of them|
|16.Feeding the Washer/Dryer|
19.Mail devoted mostly to Receiving/Destroying Catalogues/Bill Pay
You fill in your own activities. Your worksheet categories will look a lot different than mine if you're a young, working parent/spouse/single that needs to add in ALL that's required in the young striving family category. The GOAL is NOT to take on more than you can reasonably handle! I know, easier said than done.
Another example of measuring what's important and taking up hours in my life is an exercise I've seen used in business seminars and actually during a children's sermon in church one morning -
A Philosophy professor one day picked up a large empty jar and proceeded to fill it with small rocks. He then asked his students if the jar was full? They unanimously agreed that the jar was full.
So professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked his students again if the jar was full. Again, they unanimously agreed that the jar was full.
Then the professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
"Now," the professor said, "I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things: your family, your partner, your friends, your health, your children, and things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else. If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you."
So, what do the chart and the rocks exercises say or prove? My own recent time worksheet indicated to me that I'm becoming dangerously close to over-committing to more tasks, meetings, and scheduling than I actually have time for in a week. My chart called out to me the tasks I might really be doing because someone else wanted me to, or expected me to do, or that in a guilt-laden moment I might have been leaned upon to do. Those hours on the chart screamed out at me - "give it up!! - and/or don't take on anything else!" Give it up before my truly important relationships suffer, before my health takes a turn for the worse, before I find myself snapping at a slow driver in front of me, or my spouse, or even the poor doggies.
I want to feed my life with what feeds me, to spend time in those places and activities that are enriching to my soul, and to my one and only life. Before I head off to a place or activity complaining that "I wish I wasn't doing this or WHY am I doing this" I want to reflect on my worksheet of hours and say - THIS is important, THAT is not. It's such a simple tool to use and when occasionally I decide to balance myself, it is an excellent reminder of who, what, and why is receiving my attention, my honor, my heart and my soul.
Do you see places in your life that could benefit from a weekly/hourly examination? I'd love to hear if you've always used something like this, sometimes, or never?