Who among us has children, a spouse, a job, friends, family, laundry, home repair, a stack of mail, an ignored sick relative plus a nagging extra 10lbs to lose? Maybe a combo of just a few of these, maybe all and more….the fact is, we all have many factors pulling on our time, but the number one thing to get done, yet the one that we often don’t even include on ‘the list’, is taking care of ourselves. The theory of prioritization in order to get your life organized is simple: Make a list and rank it. Plan your days and schedule time for each task. Sounds simple, yet it seems impossible if you are not in the right frame of mind. We get caught behind the eight ball and sink in a flurry of activity that has nothing to do with getting through our task list. Here is an experiment to try: Take care of yourself first, and see all the tasks become lighter and easier to manage.
“But I have no time! That is precisely my problem- I have no time for ME!” Sound familiar? Well, the experiment works like this: Schedule 20 minutes in each day to dedicate to yourself, whether you get up extra early in the morning or take a break at 2pm. Consider it sacred time and don’t schedule other things over these 20 minutes. Use the time to meditate, exercise, or write in a journal. You will be shocked at what 20 minutes can do to fortify your resolve throughout the day, give you strength and improve your mood. Following are some tips on what you can do with your 20 minutes- the only thing you shouldn’t do, is work on other items on the list….
20 minutes to meditate: Meditating is actually easier than you might imagine. Most of us have dabbled in meditation by participating in conscious relaxation. Maybe to try to get to sleep at night, manage pain at the dentist or anxiety before a test. We start by paying attention to our breathing. The practical effort to focus completely on our breathing takes our minds away from the “mind clutter” that constantly invade our minds. With repeated effort, the goal of clearing your mind – to think of nothing, does occur and the process of meditation takes on its own energy. It may help in the beginning to visualize a perfect setting, or a perfect moment in your life, but the ultimate goal is to keep your mind completely blank. The result is serenity, calmness, and eventually a sense of balance.
20 minutes to exercise: You can do a lot for your body in 20 minutes, but you have to have a plan. Since the goal here is to exert your body so you are only thinking of the work out, not your list of things to do, make sure the routine is challenging. A Certified Personal Trainer can assess your fitness status and help you mold a plan that will be safe, effective and fun. The Trainers at Federal Hill Fitness can help you with this- they are just as happy to help you build a program for you to do at home as they are to train you in the club. The most challenging and rewarding short workouts are based on interval training. Start by warming up with 3 minutes of cardio- run in place, jumping jacks, knee ups, or a combo of all three. Having pre-selected six exercises that target different major muscle groups, get started with 8-12 reps of the first three exercises going from one to the next without rest. After your first mini-circuit, rest for 30 seconds, then repeat two more times. Continue with 8-12 reps of the last three exercises going from one to the next without rest. After your first mini-circuit rest about for 30 seconds then repeat two more times. Remember to leave 3 minutes at the end to stretch out!
20 minutes to write: Journaling can be a very rewarding experience, both while you are writing and in retrospect, when you look back on what you wrote last month, last year, during a tragic event, after a magical moment. Developing the discipline to take pen in hand and do nothing but write about what is on your mind can be challenging, but with practice, it comes easily. Try different styles until you find your true voice: talk to yourself, your journal, or some imaginary or real person. Write as you would write a letter, or a newspaper column. Keep your journal locked, hidden, or under password on your pda. This is private and will only work if you are uninhibited in the sharing of your thoughts and ideas.
Try the proposed experiment of putting yourself on ‘the list’. Use your 20 minutes to do something for yourself that puts you in a positive frame of mind. You will be amazed at the reduction in your stress level, the increased ease of sleep and the ability to deal with the mountains of things to do. Especially important as we approach the whirlwind of the holidays, keeping your mind focused will give you innumerable returns on investment.