January 21, 2014
Being natural bodies, we fall under the power of inertia.
When we’re working, really working, we’re often energized and propelled by seeing progress, making small accomplishments, checking items off our to-do list, knowing that we’re finally moving in the right direction. We want to keep going to see bigger victories and reach the end of a project or mission. At least we want to finish something, some stage of work, so we can move on and not have to come back to it later.
If you were writing a report or email when someone yelled “quitting time,” would you stop in the middle of a word, or say “okay, just let me finish this sentence”? (And you’d probably keep going at least to the end of the paragraph!) If you were wiping a counter and saw food dribbled down the cabinet front, you’d wipe that too, and then seeing some on the floor you would clean that up too, which would lead you to see the pet’s empty water bowl which happens to be in need of washing before filling. While you might be thinking “when will I ever be done!?!” you would keep going because you are in motion and one thing leads to another.
When we’re at rest, we feel like staying at rest, either because we’ve worn ourselves way down with our overly long work sessions, and/or because it’s easier to dream than to act. It’s easier to worry and procrastinate than to get the blood flowing through our muscles and brains. Just thinking of all the work we have to do makes us feel tired and lost. We want another hour of rest before facing what feels like a loosing battle with life. (Hint: when we have a schedule, we don’t always have to think about all of our work—usually only the next thing on the schedule.)
When we are working there are always more things to do. When we are resting there are always other positions to roll into, limbs to stretch or retract, dreams to be watched.
But we are not only natural bodies. We are also spiritual beings inhabiting our bodies like exosuits. And it is supposed to be our spirits in control of our bodies. We are supposed to choose what’s wise and make ourselves enact wisdom. Wisdom doesn’t rely solely on willpower—it adds strategic management.
One of the delights in being self-employed is supposed to be the freedom to work when we want to, and not when we don’t want to. But that is only viable once we learn to value work and know how to motivate and schedule ourselves.
If left to my own tendencies I would probably have a 34 hour day/night cycle, but God only designed a 24 hour cycle for us. I believe He had reasons.
I’ve discovered that working to the end of one project, while other things pile up, collapsing in exhaustion and resting until bed-ache or an outside force (or family member) demands wakefulness, and then tackling another mountain of work of one sort other until that pile’s cleared away, is NOT efficient—or healthy.
You might think for instance, washing dishes only once per week would be more efficient than washing after every meal. That not thinking about laundry until you had a washer-worth of each type (lights, darks, reds, whites) would let you focus on other things for a week or two. That piling up unsorted receipts, and sorting out accounting and taxes all at once annually would be most efficient. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
While there are sometimes real advantages to grouping work into batches, cutting down on time required to get things in and out and switch mental gears from one task to another, this definition of efficiency has to be kept in check. There can also be a disadvantage we should examine—the ripple effect on life flow.
Cooking and serving in the second half of the week may take longer and be far more frustrating when the most appropriate dishes are in the dirty pile from three days before, and are filling up half of the available counter space. Picking out an appropriate outfit for your day may also take longer and be less satisfactory when most of your clothes are dirty and waiting for that one big laundry day. Finding time for several days of sorting, categorizing, and adding up income and expenses can not only be hard, but it also means pushing a week’s worth of everything else off track every Spring.
You’ll also find that you work smarter, think clearer and faster, and feel more cheerful and creative when you go to sleep before you’re on the verge of illness, and get a sensible amount of sleep at least several nights per week.
So we need a schedule where everything gets done when it’s best for the flow of everything else. A little of this and a little of that, to keep every department of our lives running well. If you don’t believe me, try imagining the only grocery store in town saying that it’s more efficient to restock everything at once. What if they didn’t care that half of the shelves were empty and you couldn’t buy what you wanted, because there was still half a store’s worth of something for sale? And then what if everyone had to wait outside in line for three days while the whole store was restocked at once? This is an example of the ripple effect “efficiency” can have on the rest of life flow. It can be very inefficient for everything it touches.
The surprising part is that we will find that we seem to have more time–enough time–when we both have a good plan, and stick to it. That’s because we won’t be wasting time in confusion, frustration, and depression. You probably don’t know how much time those negatives take until you free yourself from them.
If your life is complex or you have many responsibilities, you may find it hard to make a plan or schedule which you can stick to. It takes thought over a period of time, and trial and error. Be willing to adjust when you find what won’t work.
I think my biggest problems with scheduling were being unrealistic with how fast I could work, not planning bumper time (for interruptions, bathroom trips, switching between tasks, etc), no allotment for the unexpected, and leaving no time for catching up when a project or chore didn’t fit it’s time slot. For years I refused to make a realistic schedule because I refused to accept it might take years to do as much as I wanted to accomplish in months. But I’ve found a time saver—a magic way to get more out of each day.
What’s important is to accept when you’ve found a workable schedule or plan, and then “just do it!” Know when to stop thinking thoughts like, “I wish I had a plan,” “I just don’t know how to get it all done,” “I’ll have to give up some sleep.”
“Just do it” saves time. I’ll explain.
When you hear “stick to the plan” I’m sure that triggers the protest that our plans can’t take into consideration the unknown future, so we’re bound to have to go with the flow and that means we’ll get behind again, so no schedule is going to work. That’s what I used to think. However I’ve learned that the best defense here is to swap. For example, if you’ve scheduled an afternoon at the computer and your spouse invites you out on a date or your kid gets sick, tend to the family today but make sure you reschedule (and accomplish) that afternoon worth of computer work on the next day where you had intended family time. But only swap when it’s wise to, not when your whim dictates.
So I’ll say it again: once you have a workable schedule, just do it! Whether you feel like it or not, you can just do it. Do what your plan calls for, when it calls for it. If you’re scheduled to load the washer tonight, do it. Don’t say to yourself, “oh I know I’m supposed to wash laundry, but I have clothes for tomorrow and I just want to go to bed. It will be okay.” You could have done it in the same time it took you to debate and excuse yourself. Stay on track and you’ll feel incredibly energized! Telling yourself “Just do it!” is like revving your own engine—you’ll go farther faster. You’ll rest better knowing you’re on track, and wake up happier knowing your not starting the day behind on your chores.
Once you have a good schedule, you won’t have to constantly waste time thinking about what you’re forgetting to do, trying to figure out where to start, calculating what will happen if you put something off, and wallowing in negative thoughts.
Every time you “just do it” you find out you can do it, which makes you feel like you can do anything. And you can. Without wasting energy and time thinking and rethinking the routine and mundane, you’ll have more time and energy for bigger and better things. After a while your schedule will become habitual, and that will free up even more time and energy for whatever you choose.
ANOTHER TIP: Once you have scheduled time periods for each type of work, be thoughtful to choose the most important or forward-moving activity for that category. For instance, if you’ve allotted one hour with your child, which adds most to the quality of your relationship: passively watching a TV show together, or interacting imaginatively with action figures? If you only have an hour per week for social media, decide which will move you closer to your goal: to write a blog post, browse other people’s FaceBook pages, Tweet encouraging responses to other people, search for an ezine which might publish your article, or what? Accept the length of time you have for a type of work, and focus on using that time slot wisely.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3). It’s our job to discipline ourselves to do the right things at the right times.
January 27, 2013
Life is a beautiful forest, and I see that most of the time. But when I’ve bumped my nose on a tree trunk, it’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking about “that stupid tree that’s always in my way.”
It goes like this:
Angry. Short of patience even though I don’t want to be. Frustrated. Tired. Very tired of the same things over and over. “Why does life have to be so hard!?!?” I think.
I know why life is hard in general: so we’ll learn—learn patience, self-control, love, endurance, humility, cooperation (with each other and with God), appreciation for better times, etc.
But why SO hard? Why so hard that I can’t seem to manage what I think I ought to be accomplishing?
Still the wrong question.
Would I really be content with life as it is if I had any clearer understanding of WHY life is as it is? No!
If life is hard so that we learn and grow, then we aren’t even supposed to be content exactly as is—we’re supposed to be growing and moving on, changing our thinking and our approach and our outcome to something better than what comes naturally.
Looking backwards at how we got to the state we are in is helpful, to see consequences of actions so we can make better choices as we go on. Looking backwards can also be helpful in seeing what all we’ve forgotten that we should be thankful for, so we realize that life isn’t as bad as it might seem when only focused on a small part.
But when one is angry and frustrated, then asking “why” life is as it is, is actually mostly looking to blame. Why did God put me in this lousy life? Why don’t other people make my life easier? Why am I so stupid I don’t do something completely different?
Blame breads bitterness, loneliness, and depression. When vented, angry blame only make a problem bigger.
Life is what it is—so far as the present moment. The future depends on our choices.
The right question is “What am I going to do to make things BETTER?”
As long as there’s a plan or an idea to move forward positively, there’s hope for goodness. And where there’s hope and action, there’s joy, and love, and progress toward all good things.
When positivity is radiated, improvement can grow and multiply.
So what are you going to do to make things better?
NOT “What are you going to do for revenge?” NOT “What are you going to do to get free of miserable responsibilities?”
What are YOU going to do to make things TRULY BETTER?
That is the right question. And the answer will make you joyful.
(Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, dan, & Stuart Miles, at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/ )
December 7, 2012
Holiday gatherings, and the month of dread which comes beforehand, are some of the most frustrating and depressing times for many people. These are supposed to be celebrations and reunions, but one of the biggest contributing factors which makes these events problems, is that so many people are measuring themselves and others with the wrong measuring sticks.
Tradition is to compare and judge others’ lives against one’s own life, based primarily and superficially on physical accomplishments, because these are the easiest things to put into words and are most similar across humanity in western cultural terms.
Examples: awards and educational degrees earned; prestige or money from jobs and number of promotions; home size, toys, and cars; money spent on gifts; kids and their growth, involvements or accomplishments; fun activities and places visited; number or class of friends; club memberships; books read or written; childhood dreams realized; etc.
But you can HAPPILY look like a failure by all of those standards, IF you have gained (or know you are gaining) understanding of humanity and of God, your reason for existing, and what will outlast the fleeting years at hand. For if understanding a good chunk of those things is what you pour your time and resources into, you can feel confident in your abilities to be an honest benefit to fellow humans and to the entire universe.
Communicating a meaningful measurement of your life is often hard, because there’s so much value in the fleeting moments which are like little pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and just as hard to remember or explain their context.
Examples: the times you made someone smile, were kind to a clerk, gave a hug, answered someone’s nagging question, realized the answer to your own questions, forgave someone, lovingly sacrificed your own desires for someone else’s good. The times God’s Spirit embodied you and shined through to lighten and enlighten the world with love.
So gather with grace, confidence, compassion and love for everyone, wherever they measure up at the moment–or think they measure up–on any yardstick. Hope for meaningful progress.
(This information is not doctor-confirmed—it’s just my personal experience and opinion. Use your own judgement for your own health.)
Many websites list iron-deficiency symptoms such as tiredness, which I never really noticed. Yet it is my belief I was iron deficient.
I had a severe problem: I couldn’t move–not even roll over in bed–without feeling like my brain was spinning; and along with causing head discomfort, this kept me on the verge of nausea. This was extreme dizziness!
My doctor was on vacation. I don’t remember what prompted me to try iron supplements (I think it was an educated person’s suggestion), but a few hundred percent of the “recommended daily allowance” of iron, a few times per day, cured me gradually over I think about a day or two.
This does make sense, because iron is needed for red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body; and what happens when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen? Dizziness of course!
Here is a nice clear page about iron http://health.learninginfo.org/what-does-iron-do.htm But if you read that page, and many others around the web, you’ll see that tiredness is the symptom most often mentioned.
So why didn’t I feel tired or lacking in energy? Because I was a person who habitually did what I judged needed to be done, regardless of my energy level. In other words, I had long before forgotten what rested and energized felt like, living on adrenaline, willpower, and love for others. I was deaf to my body’s subtle signals.
I repeated the on-off “test” process a few times: I stopped taking iron for a while or maybe only a couple of times per month, had the dizziness come back; took more iron and felt fine. I repeated this cycle more than twice, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t coincidence. Iron really was what I needed. (BE WARNED: Too much iron can damage organs, so be careful and consider having your blood iron level tested.)
Then I had “another” problem: taking an iron supplement daily for a long time wasn’t enough. I cooked in iron skillets; took 100% US RDA of iron daily; I included in my diet lots of fresh broccoli and swiss chard, canned spinach, eggs, beans, prunes and raisins, and occasionally red meat (all iron-rich foods, but most are calcium too). Still I could feel the dizziness coming back (thankfully I’d learned to notice it before it got severe). Without blood tests I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but I was worried.
I did another internet search to learn what interferes with iron absorption. I realized that I was usually consuming my iron-rich foods with calcium-rich foods and whole grains (both of which block iron absorption), and I was always taking my iron pill with my multi-vitamin-mineral pill which also contained calcium. These were not helpful habits.
See these pages for detail on what interferes with iron absorption, and how to increase absorption:
I also read in the book “the Four Hour Body” that the author, Timothy Ferris, did have his blood tested before and after adding orange juice to his somewhat strict diet. His test proved what one of those webpages says: citrus juice increases blood iron content (because, it is thought, of the Vitamin C content in the juice). This didn’t make Mr. Ferris happy (because, he says, men don’t lose blood monthly and so have no way to rid themselves of too much iron); but it’s some good news for anyone already low in iron. Orange Juice can help. ……….By the way, I’ve only read a part of his book, but found it has a lot of good information in it. Here’s a link to it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/4-Hour-Body-Uncommon-Incredible-Superhuman/dp/030746363X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342717373&sr=1-1&keywords=the+four+hour+body
So, I started taking my near-daily iron pill with vitamin C (which helps with iron absorption), AND when other nutrients can not interfere: in the middle of at least a 4-hour stretch between meals, or two hours after dinner if I won’t be having a late-night snack.
Before I figured out how to absorb enough iron, I had already committed to taking better care of myself, including getting enough hours of sleep. I noticed that even 8-9 or more hours didn’t feel like enough, and I blamed this on my dreams. I was always busy in my dreams trying to get things done, just like in my waking hours. I learned to turn off my mind when going to sleep, telling myself that everything can wait because now was the time to rest. This helped considerably with waking up energized. But after correcting my iron intake, I was surprised at how much better I felt! I still get 8-9 hours of sleep occasionally, but often only seven, and I have real energy—I don’t have to push myself like I did for years. (I still sometimes have to push myself to work on the right chores when I’d rather work on different ones, but that’s another issue.)
- Iron deficiency can cause tiredness; BUT, if you don’t notice that, it can go on to cause severe dizziness.
- It’s serious when your body doesn’t have enough oxygen flowing—not something to cure with will-power.
- To make sure more of the iron you consume is absorbed: A) try to eat some iron-rich foods at separate times from tea, coffee, bread, cereal, dairy, beans, tofu, etc., B) try to take any iron supplements on an empty stomach if you can, or with foods that don’t interfere.
- Take citrus juice or vitamin C with your iron foods or iron pills. (NOTE: Potatoes are rich in vitamin C too, if not over-processed.)
- Listen to your body and find out what it needs, so you can last longer to do more for others (and for yourself).
Now I feel great, and have more energy than I’ve had in a long time. Real energy.
May 19, 2012
Here’s the best diet plan ever.
FUN Advantage 1:
You get to create your own version.
FUN Advantage 2:
You won’t get tired of it, and if you think you are tiring, you just adjust your version.
You don’t have to think about getting too fat or too thin, ever.
How is it win-win?
Because while you’re losing unhealthy weight, you’re accomplishing something else altogether that will make you feel great, AND your accomplishment will be positively meaningful to someone else (or even maybe many other people).
Okay, I’m sure you’re ready to hear some details. Nothing in life is simple, but this has a very simple start.
First, set your mind and heart on something bigger than personal physical gratification.
Second, every time you think of eating (outside of normal meal times), remind yourself that you don’t have time—you need every minute to work toward your important something. Remind yourself that you’ll feel better by accomplishing a step in that direction, than you would feel if you stopped to eat. Try it and see how you feel. Food will taste better when you’re truly hungry and have accomplished something valuable, and you won’t have any guilt from eating when you finally get around to it.
Your important something could be anything, like:
Helping your child to be smarter and happier,
Helping more people with your work or your charity,
Being healthy and energetic in order to______ (fill in the blank),
Learning or experiencing ______ (fill in the blank),
Earning more money so you can______ (fill in the blank),
Be specific, choosing something that would make your heart soar if you were succeeding—something that would make you feel like an important and positive contributor to the world.
You will pour so much energy into your “something important,” that excess weight will slip away. And when you need more energy to keep working, you’ll remember to take time for food. You’ll want to eat simpler, cheaper meals, so you can spend more time and money on your “something important”; and you’ll truly want healthy foods, because you’ll seriously want good health to accomplish your “something important.” But at milestones, you’ll relish a celebratory feast—without any guilt.
If you ever think you’re tiring of the whole thing, it’s not a matter of giving up on a diet–because your focus isn’t dieting; your focus is your “something important,” your goal. If that “something” is tiresome, adjust either your goal or your method of attempting to reach it.
When you reach one goal or complete one “something important,” you’ll feel so great that you’ll set new goals and keep going—lean and strong.
If you don’t believe me, look around. In general, overweight people are unhappy and reach for food to feel good fast. Forget about food, and reach for something meaningful to do. You’ll be glad you did, and so will the people you affect.
January 7, 2012
Long time, no post. Nice to be back.
Last year went off the track I planned, but turned out to have a valuable impact on numerous people I know, including myself.
NEW YEAR: I have no “new year’s resolutions.” What I do have is a determination not to let my writing, the promotion of my writing, and making a living from my writing, all repeatedly fall to the end of my never-finished to-do lists.
NEW HOPE: Last year’s chores and mistakes are behind me, and I’ve grown from them. Every day is a new chance for what I could not do before.
NEW EFFORT: Determination is not enough—it’s just choosing a heading. I need action—like stepping on the gas and steering in the determined direction.
I need reminders to act—like back-seat passengers who yell “we’re gonna be late” every time I slow down and stare at the scenery. So, I’m clearing clutter and filling my field of vision with some reminders of what I need to do and why I want to do it.
I need to continually ignore unproductive distractions, while being open to unexpected beneficial opportunities. So, I’m planning time to frequently hush my own usual mental/emotional processes, in order to hear more of God’s promptings and to notice what I’ve been too busy to notice.
NOTES TO SELF:
(Remember that “frog” tasks* usually seem like “chicken nugget” tasks once begun.)
(Remember that at every moment I’m taking a step somewhere—so make sure it’s going in the right direction.)
Focus! Focus! Focus!
Eat today’s frog* and get on with making the right things happen!
Get it done! Move along!
Thank God at every step.
*(“Eat That Frog”, by Brian Tracy, is all about how to gain momentum from tackling your hardest task first, rather than letting procrastination drag you down.)
…Okay, enough already! Let’s get this post on the net! I’ve got more things to do tonight 😀 🙂
© 2012 Noname Porter-McShirley