Time is our most precious commodity. How we choose to spend time impacts how we feel and the enjoyment we get from life. And how we choose to spend time in the present also impacts the future.
If you’re anything like us, in these past few weeks you have been riding the coronavirus news coverage train. It’s a train that’s easy to get on, but difficult to get off. We’ve all been searching to figure out when this is all going to be over.
Of course we need to follow CDC and WHO guidelines, ensure we're social distancing, and do as much as we can to stop the spread of the virus. That's what we do know.
What we don't know, though, is when this all will end. There are no conclusive answers, and every time you try to answer an unanswerable question, you are wasting your time.
If you are ready to get off the train or at least keep yourself busy, all week long our Executive Director Jeff Ford has some options for you to take back your time. Today we'll start with his first suggestion:
1. Read that book that has been sitting on your shelf.
If you are like me, I often buy books far in advance waiting for the right time to read them. Whether the book recommendation came from a recent podcast or it is a new book from one of your favorite authors, it is always a good idea to have a book or two in your queue.
One way to look at the extra time on your hands is to invest it. Becoming an expert at your work or a hobby that you love takes repetitions. Think about, if you set aside 30 minutes a day for seven days a week, you will quickly accumulate more than 120 hours of knowledge in a year.
Click HERE for a list of recommendations from Skyterra, including some solid book recommendations.
2. Write out and get clear on your vision.
Most of us plan what we are going to eat for lunch, when we are going to go grocery shopping, and what we are going to do on the weekend. But how many of us actually sit down and actively plan out a vision for life? I’m not talking about a motivational catchphrase that will fit conveniently on a coffee mug. A vision is what you wish to achieve and who you want to become. What could happen, but hasn’t yet? True behavior change is identity change and it’s much easier to do if you have a vision.
A vision can be fleshed out right now by answering these three questions:
- What do you want?
- Who do you want to become?
- How will your life be different when you become this person?
Here are some example answers to get you started:
- I want to lose 15 pounds and create a daily fitness routine
- I want to become the type of person who is consistent and says no more often
- I will feel better in my skin and get back to active things I used to do
3. Reconfigure your furniture and clean up your house.
Do you ever just get sick and tired of the setup in your house? The unfinished projects? I’m a big HGTV House Hunters fan, who isn’t? I love to hypothesize how to make simple home improvements, all while knowing that in most cases I’ll need a contractor. Now furniture shifting or painting cabinets, that’s in my wheelhouse.
Recently, I shifted our garage gym setup from the left side garage space to the right. It changed our home gym setup for the better, way more than I ever thought possible. It speaks to the reality that tiny changes can bring big results. The same holds true in life.
It is also interesting to know that women who see their living spaces as cluttered or full of unfinished projects are more likely to be depressed and fatigued. In 2010, researchers published a study in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, providing evidence that women with cluttered homes also tend to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
4. Start the new habit that you have never fulfilled.
Despite the stay-at-home orders and restrictions facing us right now, there has never been a better time to start a new habit. In many cases, I recommend people subtract habits before they add them, but in this case, time is on your side.
If you have tried to create habits in the past, try differently this time. Use the implementation formula and habit stack it: I will [behavior] at [time] in [location] after [current habit]. For example, I will focus on breathwork at 12:45pm in my office after lunch. Your habit of eating lunch already exists, now just add the breathwork immediately after.
5. Create a home budget and file your taxes.
In high school or college did you take the formal class? You know the class on personal finances? Probably not. It is funny, one of the most important tasks and most of us have actually never received any extensive training around it.
Ask anyone their top five regular life stressors, and job or finances will typically be on their radar. Now more than ever is an excellent time to get a handle on your personal finances. It might sound depressing if you just lost your job, but you need to look at the facts. The best way to rebound is to understand all the withdrawals so you can get right back to the deposits.
Secondly, our Government gave us a generous new deadline for taxes, but who wants to be back at work with that kind of stress on their shoulders? I am a chronic tax procrastinator and every year it’s not fun waiting until the last minute. With COVID-19 in the mix, there may be better news this time than years past.
6. Identify triggers and build new boundaries.
There I said it, the “B” word: boundaries. If you think back to a few weeks ago, you may not have had any. No boundaries with your work. No boundaries with your family. No boundaries to uphold self-care time.
There are very few people who are naturally great at maintaining boundaries. It is a skill. One of the difficulties is that holding them requires knowledge of what is truly getting in your way. These are what we call triggers. Without identification or acknowledgement of triggers, it is actually quite easy to live in a boundaryless world.
Action steps: Name three areas in your life in which you need to build boundaries. Think about the three triggers that affect or make these boundaries difficult to uphold. You deserve to live the life you want and boundaries are pieces in the puzzle that allow you to do so.