Toward a realistic approach to Mindfulness and Time Management

Aug 26 9:10am | Roberto P. Benzo, M.D. | @robertopbe | Comments (6)

The more we believe that we might succeed in “fitting everything in,” the less we ask ourselves whether each commitment is truly worth a portion of our time. When we try to fit everything in, we may fill our days with more activities we may not value.

When we make the conscious decision to use a part of our time on anything, we are purposively not doing other things: That conscious effort represents that we are taking a stand without reservation to do what matters the most to us.

Suppose we are finally committed to paying attention to what matters to us. In that case, the hard practice is deciding what to focus on and what to neglect rather than letting our schedule get made by default or deceiving ourselves that we will fit everything in with enough hard work and the right time management tricks.

Making choices on how you spend your time is Mindfulness 101. It means paying attention to your life, day by day, moment by moment, and devoting your life to what is important. What is important is not always pleasant: caring for a child having a tough time, working on our relationships, committing to a way of living that requires heavy changes, to say a few.

Concentrating our attention on a few matters also means resisting the seductive temptation to keep your options open. It means standing firm in the face of the popular “fear of missing out” since if we reflect enough,  we may likely realize that missing out on something is guaranteed.

This confrontation with the inability to fit everything may reveal that freedom may come, not in achieving greater control over our schedule,  but in permitting yourself to be constrained and to choose where to put your attention in the context of multiple demands.

Since time pressure on situations comes largely from forces outside us and may not be solved by self-help alone, the point here is that fully facing that reality (what we can and cannot change) can only help.

The practice of “sitting and doing nothing ” (really, doing nothing)  in the context of chaos is counterintuitive (I know). Still, it may lead to the insight that meaningful productivity does NOT come from hurrying things up but from letting them take their time. Importantly, we can take a stand on external pressures and time management by stopping and observing deeply where we put our attention. Suppose we continue to respond like we can keep up with impossible demands trying to persuade ourselves that we might one day find some way to do the impossible. In that case, we implicitly collaborate with those impossible demands (sometimes impossible demands are also self-imposed).

Once we deeply grasp that some situations are impossible, we will be newly empowered to resist  (to fit everything in) and then focus on a few really important things and build the most meaningful life we can, whatever situation we are in.

Simplicity is at the core of mindfulness: mindfulness comes naturally when you practice focusing only on things that matter to you (that require work ).

 

On practice: How is your practice of simplifying and choosing what to focus on? Worth a reflection…

 

See you next month

Roberto

 

 

(Inspired by the Book “Four Thousand Weeks: Time management for mortals” by Oliver Burkeman)

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Health & Mindfulness blog.

@robertopbe hi! Was perusing the site this am and came across your take on mindfulness and time management. I haven’t been active on the site this last year; but, been curious to read about members and moderators in my group (colon cancer/re-section). Thanks for your words. Between colon cancer 10/19 and the Covid shutdown 2/20, I (like so many others) took a breath and stopped my running through life. I knew I was not living a balanced life, but I didn’t know any other way. It’s been about 3 years since this journey started and I am doing pretty good. When I start berating myself for not filling up my time with busy work, I know it is my way of avoidance. Something is making me uncomfortable and it needs to be examined. Can be anything, not necessarily life threatening. Sometimes, the non threatening can be harder to see and easily ignored. I’ve learned to enjoy my own company (maybe a little too much😂) Definitely, I’m more selective on how I spend my time. . Turning 70 this Friday and I’ve decided to do and be curious about what 70 has to offer! I’m actually excited about it. ….I now know “More is not always better” Take care virgo52

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I am dealing with a very difficult medical situation for a loved one and often find myself thinking too much especially about the bad things that can happen in the future. How can mindfulness help me to focus more on the present moment and not look too far ahead?

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@dat

I am dealing with a very difficult medical situation for a loved one and often find myself thinking too much especially about the bad things that can happen in the future. How can mindfulness help me to focus more on the present moment and not look too far ahead?

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Paying attention to what is, without liking or disliking is the core of mindfulness
Opening to this difficult moment and being with the pain that comes with it instead of rejecting it or thinking ahead, may be the beginning of a different way of surviving the hardship

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@dat

I am dealing with a very difficult medical situation for a loved one and often find myself thinking too much especially about the bad things that can happen in the future. How can mindfulness help me to focus more on the present moment and not look too far ahead?

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How are you and your loved one doing, @dat?

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@dat

I am dealing with a very difficult medical situation for a loved one and often find myself thinking too much especially about the bad things that can happen in the future. How can mindfulness help me to focus more on the present moment and not look too far ahead?

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Good morning @dat. I noticed your question about mindfulness this morning, Would you like to take the next step? If so, then you will be reaching for equanimity by using your mindfulness, Please look this up to get a more educated explanation. I just completed a three day retreat to learn about and practice equanimity,

Very simply it teaches you to “ride the waves” without over reacting or engaging in non productive behavior. It’s a new journey for us and we are actually enjoying helping each other attain this status.

What challenges are you facing today?

May you be calm and at peace.
Chris

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philosophy of living – its foundation is the belief that it is not the events in our lives that cause our emotions, rather it is our beliefs that cause us to experience emotions such as anger, depression, and anxiety. It is a mode to consider and change our irrational beliefs and has shown to have a favorable effect on reducing emotional pain.

I must do well and win others' approval or else I am no good. Others must treat me fairly and kindly and in the same way, I want them to treat me.
Dan

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