Mind Like Water. Clear. Calm. Still.
There is no such thing as time management. We cannot manage what we cannot control. What we can manage is our actions and behaviors. Where you want to focus your energy is managing actions and behaviors within the same 24 hour everyone else in the world gets for one day.
In Karate there is a theory that describes the state of perfect readiness, called “Mind Like Water.” You want your mind to be clear and calm. Close your eyes and imagine standing at a clear, calm, still lake. Pick up a rock from the shore and throw it into the water. How does the water respond? The water’s response is directly proportionate to the size of the rock and then quickly returns to clear, calm and still.
How do we clear our minds? We are all busy. But are we? Many times, if you look at all the things to do causing you to feel overwhelmed and overworked you will see they are not really things to do at all. They are decisions that need to be made. We all came into this moment carrying some sort of baggage. Whether it was work related or from our personal life we all have other things on our minds right now. Write down for me the most obvious issue on your mind. Next, write down a possible solution to that problem. That solution can seem overwhelming and daunting. Instead of looking at the whole solution, write down the very next action you can take toward that solution.
After that short exercise you probably feel some relief. You have made the decision. You have put an action to your problem. You have begun to clear your mind.
Mind Like Water… Clear… Calm. How do we get to the Calm? How many people make to do lists? Many of you are familiar with the infamous ‘honey-do -list’. I hate to do lists. We start making a list of things we want to get done. Call the doctor, pick up kids, paint the garage. This is not a to do list, this is a decision list. We start out by calling the doctor, okay pretty good there. Pick up the kids? Is that really something that needs to be on a to do list? No, that is something in your calendar that takes time and is scheduled. Oh, and paint the garage. It isn’t something to do. This is a group of decisions that need to be made.
I recommend task budgets. Next to the action item you have written down, write how long that will take to do. As you are clearing your mind and turning your “so much to do” into visible actions there are a few questions to ask; Is this actionable? Will this take 2 minutes or less?
If it’s not actionable, file it or throw it away. If it will take less than 2 minutes, Do it! If it is going to take longer than 2 minutes put it on your task budget, put it on your calendar, or delegate it. By having this action plan and making your actions visible on your task budget and calendar you will begin to feel calmer.
Mind Like Water… Clear… Calm… Still…Perfect State of Readiness. Trust your system. There is a tendency when we start to experience stress or anxiety to revert back to old habits. If you can trust your system, you will be still when life throws one of its rocks at you. You will be able to respond with the right level of intensity. You will be ready to act.
Be still. Trust your system. What is the problem? What is the solution? Is there an action for me?
We cannot manage time. We can manage what we do and how we react within that same 24-hour period everyone else has. Clear your mind by turning decisions into actions. Become calm by knowing your actions are visible and knowing how long they will take you. Mind Like water… Perfect State of Readiness.