Archive for the ‘Time Management’ Category

One Point in Time

I sat there among the paper, projects, commitments, emails, bills, promises and looming deadlines. And I sat and continued to sit, unable to move on any of it. Full blown inertia set in and I was hopelessly stuck in it. This familiar moment in time is one I relive over and over and have little warning when it will show up. Several inner sparks tell me to gather the bills, write an email, or sort through the file. Others say create a plan, prioritize, call someone. Still more admonish my laziness;others push my head into my hands and plead with me to do something! No thought of threat or reward can lift me. I have lost many opportunities, much money, jobs, potential clients and a few friends over the years- all traceable to one or more of these quick sand moments in time.

On its face this does look like simple procrastination or laziness. I have work to do and promises to keep and I am doing nothing. There are reasons why I’m in this predicament- most of them the results of choices I made. I took on too much. I waited too long. I over-promised. I allowed too much to accumulate. I did procrastinate and succumb to more interesting pursuits instead of doing what needed to be done when it needed doing. This is all true. There is no one to blame but myself.

I have shelves lined with advice for how to organize my time and space; how to manage my things and my schedule. These are valuable resources in my life and in my work as a life coach. The myriad tips and tools for managing oneself are like bricks and mortar for creating an empowered existence. Each tool is an opportunity to build a stronger foundation and a calmer, more successful life. I can start fresh each day with a new way of being: From this day forth, all my incoming mail and papers go in the red basket. Starting right now, I check my emails three times a day and turn off my Blackberry between the hours of 2 and 4pm. I do a lot of cooking on Monday nights so that I need not cook for several days. As soon as I accept a new project, I outline its parameters and create a time line for completing it. These are all tools I use to create order in my life. When I commit to these kinds of activities, over a period of weeks, months, and years, much of the mundane aspects of living are automatically handled. With the start of these kinds of habits I have come miles on this journey toward living a fully harmonious life.

And yet even the finest sieve lets particles through. Despite my efforts to form good habits and commit to them, I sometimes forget to turn off the Blackberry. I’ll sign up for a Monday night exercise class or the red basket is co-opted for another purpose, leaving the incoming papers to fend for themselves. Without a contingency plan, there go the systems. This partially explains why, on this particular day, I sat there among the paper, projects, commitments and looming deadlines and felt so overwhelmed. My pre-frontal cortex, that part of my brain that plans and organizes and handles the details of my life, seemingly shut down. All the books, advice, tools, programs, habits and support groups in the world could not help me in that precise moment. I was stuck.

One Point in Time:
Sitting there at my desk at 7:07pm, mental wheels spinning wildly, I saw in my mind’s eye, a large period. I picked up my pencil and drew that large period on a piece of paper. Then I put my finger on that period. I thought of it as a pause button. STOP! Stop spinning. Stop thinking, ruminating, judging, deliberating, drowning. STOP. Breathe. Keeping my finger on the dot, I then I drew a small circle. What should be the very next thing I do? I wrote it in the circle. (walk to ladies room). When I returned to my desk I put my finger back on the circle. I drew a triangle. What is the very next thing I should do? Pack up to go home. I put my finger on the triangle, took a moment to pause and breathe. I packed up to leave. I drew a square. What next? I wrote in the square Go Home.

This whole process from the moment I drew the first period to the time I locked my office door took 7 minutes. At another time I would have sat there until 10pm feverishly plugging away. During my pausing moments, I focused only on what I need to do in the next moment. You can only fill a moment with one activity. My periods and other patterns represented those moments for me- one at a time. They allowed me to pause, and consider what do I really need to do next. I could take myself home to my family and make dinner for us, and sit down and eat it. Once I did that, I came to my home office and drew a diamond shape: 10 minutes plan for tomorrow. I made a list of 5 important things to take care of, with a reminder to place Periods through out the day in order to STOP, breath, notice, and decide. What’s Next?

When We Had Time

I believe the tragedy of our modern culture is how little time we have to amble and hang out with our neighbors, our families, our friends, and ourselves. The tragedy becomes more apparent as each passing year seems to race by faster than the one before. I wouldn’t even mind it if I understood what was so important that we were too busy to chat with our next door neighbor.

Grandma Mary lived across the street for 50 years and was living there when we moved in.  Grandma never hurried.  She woke up in the morning, made a cup of coffee, and watched a little morning network TV.  When my children were little they would call Grandma over every morning for coffee.  She would amble on over.

Then later in the afternoon we would put on the kettle once more and Grandma would be summoned, which she always accepted.  We had time then.  I had time to drive Grandma Mary to her doctor and she had time to take me to lunch.  I had time to take walks because Grandma Mary, at age 85 had time to romp with my small children.  And then she had time for yet another cup of coffee down at Minnie’s on the corner.

Minnie had time to bake cookies and make coffee.  Neighbors had time to walk over and sit around gossiping, sipping, chewing and just plain being neighborly.

As my kids got bigger, they got to run across the street and bring Grandma for coffee.  When they got bigger still they could walk all the way to the corner and have cookies with Minnie and Mary and Chuck and Laura and the Dotties .and Jerry and Margaret, Sonny and Marion; and Bill and Grace.  Virtually every one of these dear people passed away before my children became teenagers.  But the memory of people who had time for them is very much alive.

excerpts from Viv’s Journal 12/2/05

Favorite Books for Creating Peace, Order, and Connection in Daily Life

These books are on this list of favorites because they are easy and fun to read. They help me establish a sense of focus and direction, and they teach me how to better organize my time, my space, my money, and my life. I refer to them again and again and share them with others. For people living with the challenges of ADD, these books really help.

  1. One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer, PhD.
  2. Making Peace with the Things in Your Life by Cindy Glovinsky MSW  ACSW
  3. ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize your Life by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau, PhD
  4. Survival Tips for Women with ADHD by Terry Matlen MSW
  5. The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman
  6. Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
  7. Conquering Chronic Disorganization by Judith Kolberg
  8. Do It Tomorrow by Mark Forster
  9. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  10. A Finger Pointing to the Moon by Linda Anderson and Gregg Krech of ToDo Institute
  11. The Concise Little Guide to Getting Things Done by Linda Anderson and Gregg Krech
  12. NaikanGratitude, Grace, and the Japanese Art of Self-Reflection by Gregg Krech
  13. The Natural Way to Mental Wellness by Gregg Krech
  14. Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard
  15. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  16. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel Amen MD
  17. The Disorganized Mind by Nancy Ratey MCC
  18. More Attention, Less Deficit by Ari Tuckman PhD
  19. Getting Unstuck by Don Kerson, MD
  20. Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell MD and John Ratey MD
  21. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

The Next Step

The Next Step:  A process to help you take small steps forward on projects, tasks and other things – with built-in time to enjoy yourself.


to break down projects into short doable tasks, creating as much joy and interest as possible.

The Situation:

you have a lot of things you want to accomplish during a given amount of time, (say, 2-10 hours) and you want to stay focused and productive the entire time.


  1. Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish during this time. be sure and include some enjoyable things.
  2. When you’re ready to begin, write down the present time. Then choose a specific action. Decide how much time you will spend on it (5-20 minutes maximum), and write those minutes next to the action. Set a timer; it is very important that you stick to the amount of time you agreed to!
  3. When the timer goes off, decide what the next step will be. Do you want to continue with the same task or do something different? Again, wrtie down the time, the action, and how many minutes to spend. Set the timer.

Continue in this manner for the entire allotted time. Be sure and squeeze in 5 minutes here and there for breaks…writing them down and setting the timer. You can also include 10 minutes reading a magazine or taking a walk or writing a poem. Just stick to the time you agreed to, and you will be able to accomplish many things while enjoying yourself every step of the way.

Note: This process also helps reign in any tendancy toward “wasting” time as every minute is accounted for.