I don't have time

But I just don’t have time!

There is this weird and yet totally understandable thing that happens to people (and by people I mean: me and everyone I know). It happens when you find yourself in deep procrastination avoidance, in deep freak-out mode, or both.

Here’s what it’s like: You remember this really good technique. You know it works. You remember that using it makes everything better every time. And yet … exactly. You’re not using it. And you’re not going to. Why? Because you don’t have the time! (Insert fist-shaking and groaning as necessary).

Since you don’t have any time, you’re obviously not going to take time out to do it (time out of time you don’t even have). C’mon, you don’t even know why you’re reading this. And even if you did have an extra minute, you wouldn’t waste it working on calming down.

Sure, it would be great if you just had time for it, but you’re not going to pause. Even if it does mean getting focused. Even if it does mean finding out what you really need to do (especially since it’s probably “nurturing your inner self” or something equally embarrassing).

Okay, now I’m just being silly. But it really feels like a kind of paralysis. The thing has to get done. There is a deadline. There are people counting on you. And everything is getting stuck. It’s all going wrong. And that is incredibly frustrating. The last thing you want to hear is that you need to stop.

Welcome to what I call the mindful time management paradox.

When you’re not in flow, it seems like stopping will make it all worse. If anything, it seems like you should really be working faster to get in flow. You feel how urgent it is for things to start working — to catch the next wave, as my friend Michael says, and –paradoxically — the way to do that is to stop.

Not for very long. But for a minute.

That’s the paradox. It takes time to make time. Taking the time now makes it all go faster when you’re actually doing it. Because . . .

  • When you’re functioning from a place of clarity, you’re way more likely to catch (or even avoid) those errors that get made out of haste and annoyance. The same errors that result in everything becoming a tangled, irritating mess. Huge time-saver.
  • When you’ve taken time out to get your bearings, you make better decisions. Decisions that impact everything else you do.
  • When you stop to re-assess, ground yourself and calm down, everything you do happens more quickly and smoothly. Things start falling into place. That’s what flow looks like.

Plus you have perspective. And perspective is the thing that keeps you from banging your head against the wall. Yay, perspective! Good stuff.

You have to stop to get started

So you have to stop to get started. But you don’t want to! What’s next?

Well, there are a number of ways to stop and consciously get back on track. The more conventional ones are things like stopping and breathing, (though, really, who wants to do that?).

The more advanced ones are techniques like using five minutes of Shiva Nata (yoga brain training) or Qi Gong to get back into flow. And those rare people who can actually make the switch from melt-down mode to meditation can just do that, and we’ll try not to hate them for it.

But it just so happens that I have a do-it-yourself 45-second exercise for you that works like a charm. So try it.

Getting back into flow: a 45-second exercise

  1. Take your index and middle fingers as if they were velcroed together, and start tapping gently underneath your nose, right at the funny little indentation there. Try and breathe consciously.
  2. Release tension in your jaw. Maybe even open your mouth and move your jaw around a little. Imagine that you can soften your forehead and smooth it out. Drop your shoulders.
  3. Say to yourself, “I am allowed to not want to take this pause. It’s okay that I just want to keep going. I’m just going to take a minute — one minute — to see if I can’t get back into flow. Even though things are stuck for me right now, I am willing to release any stuck parts that I can. I am willing and ready to let things start moving again. I am ready to catch the next wave.”
  4. Keep tapping. Close your eyes and yawn three times, as loudly as you can get away with.
  5. Stick out your tongue and make a face.

That’s it. Go back to working on the thing (you know, the thing). Take this break whenever things are heading towards stuck.

FYI: Some changes afoot (yes, afoot!) at The Fluent Self

It’s now harder than ever to do private coaching with me. Not that I’m complaining — I love this work — but there are more people who want to work with me and not enough … well, there’s that pesky time thing again.

For one thing, I just can’t fit everyone in. For another, I’ve found that the people who are already familiar with this work and the system I use get their mind-blowing results way faster. Which is better news for everyone. More flow!

So, to save us both time, and to enable results to happen even more quickly for you, I’ve instituted some prerequisites.

Yeah, and thanks for reading. I really do appreciate how hard it is to take time out for anything, even (especially?) a dose of remembering how useful it is to be in the self-learning process.