One of the interesting things about coaching is that periodically, the topics on which I’m coaching someone will rise up and smack me in the face. Pride may go before a fall, but working with someone else on an issue they’re facing seems highly likely in some bizarre cosmic way to raise the same issue for me. Recently, it’s been around time management. A client is known for being busy. Frantically busy. Ridiculously busy. Productive, but busy beyond all measure of busy. And he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t want it, and he’s ready to explore change. Fortunately, after we explored some strategies that he created to meet his own needs and tendencies, things are improving for him.
Can you guess what my last week has been like?
I caught myself yesterday feeling as if I had so much to do that I’d never catch up (which may be true, but is hardly fatal) and bemoaning my lack of time. Nope, can’t work out; I don’t have time. Return calls to friends? Not possible, there just isn’t time. Post on the Life at the Bar blog on Monday morning as usual? Not this week!
And then, two strategies came my way that have created a radically different experience for Tuesday than I had for Monday. I’ll share them here in the hopes that they’ll help someone else.
First, eliminate the word “busy” from my repertoire. I discovered that every time someone asked how things are going, I would reply “BUSY!” and immediately feel more stressed. So, I’m practicing today with using other words: productive, effective, fruitful, joyful, full of accomplishments, etc. (Thanks to Coach Kimberly for leading the way on this!) Nothing has changed about my workload, of course, but my relationship with it has changed dramatically.
And second, at someone’s suggestion, when I felt that time was flying and I would never catch enough of it to get anything done, I stopped and watched the clock for one minute. Have you ever noticed how long a minute takes when you’re just waiting and watching? It was like being a kid waiting for summer break all over again, living in a state of seeming suspended animation. Again, it didn’t change the items on my “to do” list, and it didn’t really even change the fact that I have more to do than I have day in which to do it, but that one-minute break helped me to realize that time isn’t really going so quickly, that just noticing it would make it slow down.
So, today I remain productive and cognizant that time isn’t actually flying by me. I fully expect to hit “reset” again tomorrow by stopping myself from proclaiming my busyness and taking a one-minute break. Will I get more done? I don’t know. But I will feel less pressured, which will make me less hurried, which will prime me to be less likely to make mistakes, which will make the day flow more easily.
Not bad for a small semantic change and a one-minute dance with time. Would anyone else care to try it with me?