I had a recent session with a writer who was feeling down….the inkwell of imagination dried up….feeling unaccomplished.
She needed to go to her files, her drawers, her closets to pull out all her printed drafts of all the work she’d done and leave them out for a while to “see” her work.
Gratifying, validating for a time, seeing all the paper piled high, she then felt a need to “see” further – She called me in and we began discerning the drafts – we separated – 1st play: version 1-8, 1st screenplay versions 1-6, etc.
At this point, she began to feel ready to purge the old drafts….a feeling of completion took over the need to see her work. In order to move on, she now needed the clarity of an empty space…a new beginning.
This process of interacting with her drafts was part of her artistic process – She was not sure if she was “done” with her plays yet —
Without throwing them out, the exercise of taking inventory re-positioned her. With clarity, she was in a new space to make decisions.
She stood in a place of readiness to be open to the next “direction” form the muse/god/ psyche….
There’s a notion in feng shui – If you’re feeling stuck with your stuff, move 20 objects…..just shift them slightly – move one pile from the left corner of your desk to the right, shift the angle of objects on a mantle piece, move the soap dish to a shelf. Shake up the energy of your environment. Sometimes it’s enough to shift your internal landscape so you can “see” what’s next –
Baby steps are effective. Remember when you were learning to walk? You’ve come a long way, baby. Keep stepping.
I often advocate to clients they plan out their day. It asserts ourselves as the creator, rather than the slave to our circumstances.
Set a clear intention of purpose, then schedule the actions that support that purpose with a responsibility to estimating accurately how much time you’ll need for these actions.
Life will happen. Circumstances will assert themselves — an unexpected phone call, a traffic jam, a mistake in an appointment time — brings a need to shift your plans. That sense of purpose for your day can help you remain steady, as you recalibrate and recommit to your intention.
And sometimes, even with or circumstances handled, we find internal obstacles to living our purpose in a day. We need to open to something bigger than ourselves to guide us to our purpose and allow our creativity to to find the tangible actions to support that purpose.
I love this quote from artist, Jen Gray. Practicing spiritual time management is sometimes just what’s needed to cut through the overwhelm of deadlines, obligations, conflicts, vagueness, lack of motivation, or procrastination.
“…the only thing i had to be concerned with was
doing the next single thing that would align myself
with love and spirit.”
If you find yourself on a rainy day, whether it’s external or internal weather, ask yourself, “What is the one single thing I could do now that would align myself with love and spirit?”
If you can go outside and be in nature, when you ask the question, see if it doesn’t deepen the response you get back.
Trust the answer, even if you can’t see beyond the next action. Sometimes we baby-step our way with faith back into clarity.
“I learned … that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes to us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.” -Brenda Ueland
Many of us don’t know HOW to take breaks, and some of us, have a compulsion to avoid breaks all together. This is a sign that something is off — our relationship to using time to “do” is actually unhealthy. Here are some ways we can “fill” our time that are out of alignment with our well-being:
- Shoulds– a compelling sense of obligation to someone or something outside ourselves, often motivated by fear rather than genuine need or desire.
- Time sink holes – draining situations and commitments that don’t nourish or reward us.
- Over commitment – not being able to say “No”, or deriving self-worth and definition by how much one can do.
- Distractions – time spent motivated by avoidance of what’s important.
- Preoccupations, Obsessions or Active Resentment – planning retaliation, complaining, gossiping.
- Non-Selectivity – wanting everything, now. Refusing to prioritize.
- Pushing the Edge/One More-Thing-Itis: – and getting a high off how much can be squeezed into a day and beating the clock: almost missing deadlines, important appointments, obligations to children, etc.
These behaviors can come from a poor sense of self-esteem and a need to prove oneself through accomplishment, or paradoxically, by sabotaging accomplishment.
Like may issues of esteem and worthiness, a spiritual approach can be an effective remedy.
Here are a few ways to cultivate a healing relationship to time:
- Set aside a half hour a day (use a timer) for spiritual reflection – meditation, a walk in nature, reading spiritual literature, journaling.
- Put yourself first in your day – Start your day by asking: “What do I absolutely need today to enjoy a peaceful, joyous time? What’s my self-care bottom-line? To whom and how do I effectively communicate my needs to today? What support do I have to stay on track? – Then make sure you take action on your answers.
- One-in/One-out rule for commitments – make it a standard, for every new commitment you take on, you must complete or let go of a current one of equal scope and time commitment first.
- Practice a pause before saying “Yes”. – When asked to do something you’re not sure you want to do – Say, “I’d love to think about this. Let me do that tonight, an I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”
- Make a list of lovely ways you’d like to take a break – I.e., putting on headphones and dancing around the room, making a cup of tea, walking in a nearby park, etc. Then, wen you find yourself in unhealthy distraction territory, allow yourself to take a legitimate break doing something that’s truly restorative.
- Get enough sleep, nutrition, exercise and water – self care is SO important for our brains to make good decisions and our ability to focus – suss out if any of these could be the root of your non productivity.
- Work with a professional organizer to help set up structures for your time, get accountability and ongoing support.
- For negative thoughts, obsessions, and resentments, or any other compulsive, destructive time-filling – consider the support of a therapist or Clutters Anonymous, Underearners Anonymous or Workaholics Anonymous. Many people have found they get tremendous support in changing these patterns with the support of a group.
Love this picture by Danny Ghitis of the NY Times. Tamara Mellon’s ample, luxurious desktop at home in the UES, NYC.
Do you have the work space worthy of who you are and what you do in the world?
Often it’s the “getting started” that’s the hardest barrier to cross in organizing. I love hearing how different people ease there way into the process…
It appears that Oprah has made decluttering her mission in every Spring. And why not? It’s a great thing.
I think what’s important is not not my realization but why. My productivity equals to my creativity. When I am not being productive, I am not creating anything. I’m not producing anything new, fun, useful or loving. What’s also important is that when I’m not feeling creative, it’s because I often feel anxious. Not all the time. But certainly a lot of the times. I think about unpaid bills, Emails I have not replied, issues I have not dealt with, taxes I have not sorted out etc etc. Cluttering is a way of avoiding and numbing. There are certain things I don’t want to deal with so I pile them up…
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