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Posts tagged ‘Time’

Cats Perspective of the Perfect Life

Cats Do Not Believe in Waiting

I start each morning the same way. I get out of bed and head to my desk to write 3 pages longhand aka “Morning Pages”. It wasn’t always this way. Though I’ve been writing every morning for over 2 years, it wasn’t until recently it took first place in my morning routine. Before that, feeding the cats was my first priority.

Though they’ve had to adjust to a 30-minute delay between rising and feeding, some are quite happy with the new arrangement. Dylan usually beats me to my office, settling himself comfortably on the corner of the desk to purr and await skritches when I pause to gather my thoughts. Though he has no trouble telling me if those pauses are less frequent than he’d like.

Recognizing Who’s the King in My Household

Sometimes, it’s a casual flick of his fluffy tail across the page. Others, he’ll walk across it forcing me to stop until he moves, willingly or not. But there are times when he feels particularly neglected. He’ll stand on top of my spiral notebook, shove my pen aside, and head bonk my glasses right off my face. You can be sure he always gets what he wants; skritches and maybe a head bonk in return.

When I stop and glance his way, he’ll roll over, giving me easy access to his fluffy white belly. I start giving him the belly rubs he loves and he grabs my hand between his paws, applying gentle pressure with his claws so I can’t pull away. It’s his way of saying hang for awhile. Give me some love and I’ll give you some back. At which point he begins licking my hand.

Time is Relative to a Cat

Being with my cats is one of my favorite de-stressers. Their soft purrs, their snuffly snores, even the weird chittering sound they make when birds or squirrels land in the tree outside my office window. All are comfort food for my soul. But more, they’re reminders to stop and be for even just a moment. We humans forget to do that more often than not.

To a cat, there’s a time to nap, a time to eat, a time to bathe—you get the picture. They know how to break their day down into pockets of time where everything has its place. Humans lose sight of this. All too often, we’re “go, go, go” and we forget to stop and catch our breath. There’s always too much to do and too little time. Or is there?

Trading in the Rat Race for the Cat Nap

Part of this mentality is due to the 9 to 5 (or in reality 8 to whenever) lifestyle of employees with jobs.https://www.flickr.com/photos/158790927@N08/25811269728/in/photolist-FjRveS-9bdN4K-dKT3m8-anLPS8-G2jGGP-666Dfo-9m3HTB-2ybGf6-9iiWLY-25XfULY-7a6uQa-U9eETw-7DiPVT-p9S65F-e2GNW6-vQhq-4X1zBQ-21j28Rw-aThcrK-RtCD8e-JQymgD-4tNbf5-pHEbRM-6Spn3F-q6BKxR-dFUcvG-pRv5H1-a83xB-3BDEC4-51zVdg-qDXFZQ-ZxzHMW-5QUcWa-sRkDaA-nwfiJe-D2A2dy-6mzNAb-51EaCE-dH2iC3-51zW7R-qy8Bsg-2fiQNc-4rnFvK-cGPQZG-jKU2zx-rpgXY4-oUjEqW-6AiPdn-8GTCLG-9VrnVK You’re expected to be in a certain place at a certain time, and stay there for a requisite number of hours in order to collect a paycheck which may or may not go up every year or so. That doesn’t even consider the bigger and bigger chunk the government feels justified to take out before you get the rest.

One of the best things I ever did was get away from living by someone else’s schedule. It was never natural nor comfortable for me, and often the worst part was being forced to interact with people every day. Though I’m still playing with my own schedule and routine, it will always be a much looser structure than any employer could offer.

Living a Healthier Lifestyle

My schedule these days allows for regular trips to the gym without having to join the masses either before or after regular work hours when I’d have to fight for time in the various stations. I can workout for 30 minutes or 90, or whatever feels comfortable to me.

It allows for a day mid-week to run errands, and opportunities to go to the movies with friends when it’s not only cheaper, but less crowded. Best of all, it allows me to work during the hours I’m most productive, and that depends a lot on what I’m doing. I’ve learned through experience, trial, and error that my optimum times for writing are far different than those for doing accounting or other analytical work, at least most of the time. I typically work at least a few hours on the weekend, but as it’s all my time, it doesn’t really feel like work.

What the Body Dictates

Watching my cats, I learn to follow my natural rhythm. I eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired (often only about 5 hours at night), meditate when I’m ready to stop and go within for an hour, and do chores in the midst of it all. Keeping up with laundry is easy when you can throw a load in, then go into your office and get some work done.

Even better, and more cat-like is the ability to work shoe-less and in comfortable clothes. I don’t need makeup. My hair is usually in a messy bun on top of my head. I wear a bra in the house only if I had to put one on to leave it. Even then, it’s usually off within an hour after I get home.

Sure, there are days when I get almost nothing done, but there are others where I’ll work 12-14 hours and never feel like I’ve worked at all. Still, the old adage applies: “if you want something done, ask a busy person” and the busier my schedule gets, the more efficiently I use my time. Words flow easier, topics fall into my lap, offers of further work come from unexpected but greatly appreciated sources. I rise earlier in the morning (the one thing the cats don’t appreciate) and stay up later.

Making Time to Be

Yet throughout the day, my cats remind me to stop, take a moment to give and receive love. They remind me life isn’t a long, continuous stream of doing. Sometimes you have to stop doing and listen, or feel, or breathe. Those reminders, those little breaks in my day make all the difference in the world. If something I’m doing isn’t flowing as easily as it should, the example I’m set let’s me know it’s OK to stop and walk away for a little while. The task will be there when I get back, and I’m not on a set schedule which says I have to be finished by 5.

As the days grow shorter, I find, more and more that I’ll be working away in my office and look up to find it’s grown dark while I’ve been immersed in my writing, editing, or accounting, and I need to go turn on some lights so I can navigate the hallway without tripping over someone. Though it surprises me to see it happening more and more lately, it’s also gratifying to be able to settle into that flow effortlessly and without fear of interruption or disruption.

Living and Loving the Non-Office

Life and work on a cat’s schedule may not be practical for many, but for some of us, it’s the only way we can do our job to the very best of our capabilities, and remain sane and grounded at the same time. Unlike some, I don’t function well on a strict schedule. I need the flexibility to stand up and stretch, meditate, get out of the “office” for a walk, or simply do a long, slow stretch inspired by my cats.

What’s your best work environment? How do you accomplish the most and feel like your most productive, least stressed self? Share in the comments. You never know who might gain something from your experiences.

Grateful for My Near-Perfect Life

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the slower, more natural pace my life takes these days.
  2. I’m grateful for unexpected projects.
  3. I’m grateful for setting my own deadlines and honoring them.
  4. I’m grateful for my cats from whom I learn so much.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: love, joy, friendship, companionship, unconditional feline love, morning pages, lessons, new information, change, progress, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

A Time to Detach and A Time to Connect

Embracing the Moments of Detachment

Until recently, when I’d start to feel detached or disconnected even when surrounded by people, I’d fight the feeling and work overtime trying to find a point of connectedness. Typically, my efforts were futile, further frustrating and even depressing me.

When it happened while dancing, I’d end up drawing into my own little bubble of energy of being in the moment in spite of myself. It made the experience less joyful if only because I didn’t get that extra boost from the energy of the other dancers and people watching on the sidelines.

Lately I’ve discovered the best way to manage moments when I feel like I’m on the outside looking in is to embrace them and actually enjoy the moment when I’m a bubble floating above and through the crowd, dancing my own dance to the music in my head. It is, in fact, merely a moment in time in the Life experience; an integral part of the unique individual who is Me. I’d already learned fighting it was futile, and often made me feel worse. Now I see how embracing it and “going with the flow” can not only enhance the moment, but make those moments of connection even more special and fulfilling.

Alone Time Can Occur Almost Anywhere

As an introvert, I need periods of alone time when I have no connection with humans, either directly or electronically. What it took me a long time to figure out was those disconnected moments aren’t always convenient. They don’t always occur when I can close myself into my personal space with no one but the cats for company. Sometimes, they come on when I’m out in the world, doing something I love like dancing. The challenge is in maintaining my balance while facing what seems to be a discordant situation.

In truth, I haven’t had a problem isolating myself in a crowd since I learned to shield decades ago. Sometimes I do it because the crowd’s energy would overwhelm me if I left myself open to it. Others, because I need to be more of an observer than a participant for a little while.

As one who often dines alone, I’ve become rather an expert at tuning out the noises around me. I might be reading or writing, or simply listening to music through my earphones. I’ve learned these moments of isolation in a public place can actually be quite productive. My ADD brain is able to hyper-focus, and often, I get more writing done when stuff is going on around me than I do in the quiet and peace of my home.

Using the Ability to Hyper-Focus to Best Advantage

Years ago, I worked in an office the owners had created by converting an old house. My office was an

open space which used to be the living room, and was shared with a couple of other people and a micro computer. I faced a sliding door which led to the parking lot behind the building. Needless to say, there were always distractions whether it was people moving around or holding conversations, telephones ringing, or client calls. I had to learn to tune it out and get my work done. With the detail necessary for accounting and tax work, it wasn’t always easy. But my ability to hyper-focus served me well, and I’d get to the point where I didn’t even notice what was going on around me. If someone approached my desk, they might have to shake me loose (figuratively, of course) in order to get my attention.

I learned from the experience that I work best with a little distraction, whether it’s music playing in the background (Pandora was a godsend for me!), surrounding myself with people and movement in a coffee shop or restaurant (preferably not at peak hours. There is a limit to the amount of distraction I can have and still be productive), a table at the bar where I dance while a lesson is going on—the possibilities are truly endless. I’ve even written at length on a writing prompt while ensconced in one of the red Adirondack chairs on my front porch with my outside cats demanding the attention they don’t get when I’m holed up in the house.

Finding Balance Whether We Like it Or Not

Like so many other things in life, it’s all about balance. We can’t be connected all the time any more than we can be disconnected. We don’t always get to choose what we need when either. We can outline our life with a schedule, but we have to be flexible with the outline, and with ourselves. Stuff happens and we may need to break away from our schedule. Sure emergencies happen, but what I’m talking about isn’t anything as overt as an illness or accident.

Sometimes life kicks us in the butt because we’ve fallen into a rut that’s taking us nowhere fast. It might be a demonstration of how low we’ve sunk without even realizing it, or a study in contrasts to feed the artist’s soul within all of us. It might be a need to do something purely spontaneous because we can, and because when we take a day to do what feels good, we come back twice or even ten times as productive afterwards.

Letting An Artist’s Date Go Where It Will

Case in point. I spontaneously turned a gym day into an extended artist’s date one sweltering Monday afternoon. I threw laptop, notebook, colored pens, and Judy Reeves’ “A Writer’s Book of Days” into my trunk before leaving the house just in case. After a pretty decent leg workout, I drove to Panera, ordered a salad, and found a table with an electrical outlet nearby.

As it turned out, the laptop never came out of its case. Instead, I spent an hour and a half writing a four page story from one of the book’s writing prompts. In fact, I am considering turning it into a post on my website, as, for once, it didn’t take a turn to the dark side.

Feeling pretty good after what I’d produced, I wandered over to a FroYo place nearby, lingering over a dish of half fresh fruit and half FroYo (my favorites, Death by Chocolate and Sea Salt Pretzel) before succumbing to the ultimate indulgence, the $5 Book Store. $15 and 5 books later, I was happy as a pig in mud on a hot summer day.

Time Time to Detach Recharges Our Batteries

Instead of wearing me out, especially after walking around in the 100 degree heat, I came home and got busy. I finished and scheduled another blog post, cut up 2 pineapples and a cantaloupe, and made enough salad to last me 3 or 4 days. Of course, I was motivated by trash day and wanting to get all the rinds, peels and vegetable parts into the trash so they wouldn’t sit in the barrel stinking up my garage for a week where the heat would turn them into a fermented mess of slime and goo.

The funny thing is, I’m feeling extra energetic, getting up and hitting the ground running. I believe it’s because I’m learning to embrace the moments when I feel disconnected instead of fighting them. They appear to serve a purpose, even if that purpose is to make me more of an observer than a participant. As an observer, I have to clear the cobwebs so my vision is unobstructed, and it gives me a clearer view of the path forward in realizing the dreams I have; not only the small, easily achievable ones, but those huge, somewhere-in-the-future dreams with components whose path to realization is still hidden from my sight.

A Time for Every Thing

There’s a verse from the Bible which, though I eschew religion, I’ve always found inspiring. It applies now, more than ever:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

The more I learn to embrace the different aspects of my personality, the changing needs of my heart, body, spirit, and mind, the more powerful these words become, and the more convinced I become of the validity of Eckhart Tolle’s teachings about living in the Now. Only by being in the moment and accepting the conditions as a temporary thing can we live the life we were meant to live and achieve the things we desire. Above all, it encourages me to remember I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m meant to do in this moment in time. Resistance is futile, and self-limiting.

Honoring the Need to Detach on Occasion Leads to More Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the simplest of reminders which come into my life at unexpected moments.
  2. I’m grateful I’m learning to embrace instead of resist the changes coming to me every day.
  3. I’m grateful for spontaneity. It reminds me nothing is engraved in stone, and almost everything can be put off for a little while so we may experience life.
  4. I’m grateful for solitude and distraction. Both are necessary for a productive, fulfilling life.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, life, experiences, choices, opportunities, joy, sorrow, gifts, and losses, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Clean Diaper, Full Belly. Finding Our Bliss In Simplicity

When Did We Lose Sight of Simplicity?

Somehow we’ve all gotten caught up, at least to some extent in the myth that happiness is predicated on having more. We’re bombarded, especially this time of year, with entreaties to let our consumeristic selves go wild, and the devil take the credit card bills.

Finding My Bliss by Giving Things Up

As I throw away every ad and delete every email asking me to buy, buy, buy (and only about half of them are from retailers), I feel a certain kind of peace in my decision to keep my holiday purchases to a minimum this year. It takes a lot of the stress out of the holiday season and beyond, and lets me put more focus into accomplishing things I want to see finished by the time the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Here are a few things I won’t miss this year:

  • Endless hours spent wrapping presents
  • Cramming my car to the gills with gifts for my daughter and son-in-law, many of which they probably neither want nor need (pajamas, socks, and books notwithstanding)
  • Hours agonizing over what I can get them they don’t already have anyway
  • Hours spent online or in the stores which would be better spent bringing my clients’ affairs up-to-date and getting my own projects ready for the next steps
  • Credit card bills in January that leave me questioning what I could possibly have been thinking
  • Dragging out and putting back the bins of wrapping paraphernalia
  • The chaos my living room becomes while I’m wrapping those endless piles of gifts
  • Time spent wrapping in front of the television that would be better spent writing, editing, or doing work for clients
Halting the Pursuit of Stress, er, Happiness

Needless to say, I’m already enjoying the minimal stress of this holiday season more than I’ve enjoyed the holidays in a very long time. My shopping is already done and the wrapping won’t take more than a couple of hours including dragging out the paper and boxes and putting them back. Instead of setting up the card table in front of the TV as I’ve done in years past, I’ll just wrap everything on the dining room table so there’s one less thing to put away when I’m done.

There are hidden benefits to keeping our gift-giving to a minimum this year too. My daughter and I have been working on de-cluttering our environments. Adding more stuff means finding places, or re-cluttering areas we’ve worked so hard to clear. Why would we want to get back on that hamster wheel to nowhere?

Steps to Becoming the Ultimate Non-Consumer

I’m making good use of that “unsubscribe” option at the end of most emails these days. I have no problem if someone is offering me information with a link to their site if I want to learn more. But when someone bombards me with daily emails, each containing a poorly veiled sales pitch, there’ll be one less subscriber under their tree come Christmas. But I’m grateful to all who choose to do business this way as it shows me things I should not do when my goal is to develop a tribe who know, like, and trust me.

Many business-people out there believe very strongly in a numbers game. The more people you put yourself in front of, and the more often you do it, the more sales you’ll have. But if you think about it, their success rate is minimal. They send out daily emails to their 5-10,000 subscribers, so they have to take the time to either write those emails or pay someone to do it for them. Of those 5-10,000 daily emails (and don’t get me started on those who send more than one a day!), I’d say, conservatively, 75% are deleted without being read. Another 20% delete them after seeing they’re nothing but another sales pitch.

Generously, 5% or 250-500 people might actually read those emails, but how many of them actually buy? Remember those same people are also being inundated by emails as well as TV and online ads from Target, Kohl’s, Walmart and more encouraging them to buy the latest fashions, toys, and electronics for their oh-so-deserving families. You can bet most of them haven’t seen a gigantic influx of money to feed these voracious and never-satisfied fires of consumerism. I’m guessing most are going to take care of family before signing up for yet another course or e-book.

Happiness is Simplicity

Though this little rant of mine has strayed a bit off-topic, the point is that if we take it back to basics; to a time when the little things made us happy, we might be surprised to find that the little things still make us happy.

Here are a few of mine, just to get you started:

  • Spending time with friends in an environment conducive to relaxation and conversation.
  • Spending time with my daughter and son-in-law being silly and laughing a lot.
  • Snuggling on the couch with my cats, a book, and a cup of tea.
  • Letting my imagination take over as I spew words on the page with no particular reason or direction.
  • Getting outside and walking, preferably with a friend.
  • Daydreaming
  • Cooking up some kind of tasty mess
  • Baking something just to give it away.

We all have our own version of “clean diaper, full belly” if we just clear the crap and the constant compulsion to buy, the invisible cord that drags us into stores so we might buy on impulse rather than thoughtfulness.

Getting off the Stress-Go-Round

The biggest advantage to this year of simplification is that my stress levels have gone down to almost nothing. My calendar is fairly full, but the tasks required to get there are manageable. There’s even time in between for self-care; something most of us shove to a back burner this time of year, only to pay the price come January (in more than those previously mentioned massive credit card bills).

Simon and Garfunkel said it best, a long, long, time ago:

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

If you find your pleasure being a part of the holiday chaos, so be it. As for me, I’ll be talking to lampposts and watching the flowers grow.

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I am grateful for slow, easy holidays.
  2.  I am grateful for simplicity, and for recognizing it’s an option.
  3.  I am grateful for work that keeps me busy enough, a social calendar that makes me spend a little less time alone, and that both require me to stay on task more.
  4.  I am grateful for the many things I’ve learned and the progress I’ve made this year. Looking back, it’s been a wild ride, but one helluva year for me. I’m looking forward to seeing where the wheels I’ve set in motion take me.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; work, friendship, lessons, love, joy, time, peace, harmony, opportunities already here and yet to come, inspiration, motivation, balance, limitless possibilities, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her special gift lies in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information or to schedule a free informational call. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Oh, The Extraordinary Thinks You Can Think!

Thinking’s Missing Link

Dr. Seuss said it best, but Lewis Carroll had it right as well. We humans have incredible minds able to think extraordinary things, even 6 impossible things before breakfast! Humankind has made more advances in the last 100 years or so using that thinker, than in the rest of the documented centuries combined. And yet, we also keep repeating old lessons, never quite managing to integrate them into the structure of our world.

This ability has been called by many names in recent years: Laws of Attraction and Neuroplasticity just to name a couple. People are cashing on on our ability to think, and our inability to see it and take advantage of it. I, myself have spent thousands of dollars on webinars and books, trying to learn to harness my natural abilities. Crazy, right?

What Are We Doing Wrong?

We all manage to think, at least some of the time. What I think we lack is focus. And because we lack focus, we often fail to make the commitment to ourselves to see what we think through.

Take improving our health habits for instance. How many people have joined gyms, hired trainers, and bought all manner of equipment only to give up halfway through? How many of those expensive elliptical machines and treadmills are gathering dust or serving as clothes racks? How many self-help books and exercise videos are piled on a shelf or in a box, or even still in their shrink wrap?

Making a Commitment to the Most Important Person in Our Lives

The problem isn’t our inability to think. We can sit and do that for hours at a time! Our problem is our willingness to see a project through; to make a commitment. Not the kind we make to our kids, our spouse, or a job. This one hits much closer to home and is often the last to get our attention.

I’ve learned through painful experience that the hardest thing we can ever commit to is ourselves.

How many times have we said “I’ll do that when…” and “when” comes only after things like the kids growing up and getting through college. When comes after we’ve paid off this debt or that. When comes after we’ve honored commitments to our family, friends, jobs…in other words, when never comes. That is, unless we make it our first priority instead of our last.

So I’m learning to change the things that follow “when” to the ones that are for other people and things. I’m getting in shape now, because it’s what’s good for me. I’m writing more regularly because it’s good for me. I’m finishing some of the courses I bought months and years ago because…you guessed it. It’s good for me!

Committing to Yourself is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

All of this has given rise to an interesting side-effect. The more I concentrate on doing things for myself, the more time and energy I have to do other things which I’ve moved to the other side of “when”. Once I refused to allow myself to dishonor my self-commitment to working out 3 times a week, I miraculously found the time to write a blog post every couple of days. Desire resurfaced to complete the VA course I’d bought last year.

The whole thing is having a snowball effect. I’m cleaning out rooms and closets which have been dumping grounds for the detritus of my life for decades. GONE! I’ve cleared my desk and surrounding surfaces of clutter I swore I had to keep because I might need it someday. GONE!

When we make our commitment to ourselves first, we suddenly find we have an abundance of time for all the things we want to do. Why? Because we’re finally happy. We finally get to do things which satisfy our minds and our souls. Life isn’t a matter of getting through the tasks we have to do any more. It’s a matter of getting to do the things we love, so we’re happy to accommodate others and fulfill responsibilities to them as well.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

If I could go back and give my teenage self a single piece of advice right now, I’d say Give yourself permission to do what you love, and commit yourself fully to doing that. Only then will you feel genuine pleasure in helping other people by doing things they ask of you. Only then will there be nothing you truly hate to do.

The light bulb went off for me when I realized I’d always dropped the ball when it came to committing to myself. Though I’m still very much a work-in-progress, I am certain I will continue to see positive changes and continued opportunities to live, learn, grow, and think the most amazing, fantastical things possible, the wildest and most impossible things, and then, make them happen. I hope if it hasn’t already, that light bulb will go off for you too. As I said to myself the day I finally decided to file for divorce: “Life is too short to be unhappy.” But only you can make yourself happy.

More and More Grateful Each Passing Day

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for my epiphanies.
  2. I am grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned, and the ones I’m still learning.
  3. I am grateful for the commitment I’ve finally learned to make to myself.
  4. I am grateful for a refurbishment of priorities.
  5. I am grateful for the joy I feel that increases with each passing day.
  6. I am grateful for abundance; commitment to self, love, joy, happiness, progress, inspiration, motivation, productivity, prosperity, philanthropy, peace, harmony, and enlightenment.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Lightbulb photo courtesy of Julian Santacruz

6 Steps to Kick Procrastination

Kicking Procrastination in the Butt

Now that my Thanksgiving dinner for an intimate group of 30 is over, my house feels remarkably empty with just me and my furry roomies. It would be easy to  allow the sudden silence and lack of activity to lull me into a soporific stupor, and at times, I’ve been tempted.

Drowsing my days away won’t, however, help me achieve my goals, hopes and dreams. Yet, there are a multitude of excuses whereby I might delay my efforts. What to do?

One of the marks of a procrastinator is our ability to be easily distracted by, well, almost anything. In my case, it might be chores, or administrative tasks or a book that falls on my head. So I set out this week to eliminate all possible culprits.

I sit here now with my bookkeeping chores complete, my bills for the month paid, all piles of laundry washed, folded and put away, and the remnants of Thanksgiving tucked away until next year. I also have a freezer so packed with food I can’t even find room for single servings of another pot of chili. (and I’m down to my last 2 containers, so I need to make room soon!)

The issue now is how I’ll avoid going off on still more tangents which inhibit forward progress on those aforementioned goals, hopes and dreams. So, how do we keep ourselves on track towards achieving our goals, hopes and dreams?

Step 1: To Do Lists

I am a great list maker, and for awhile, I’ll even stick to them. The key is to make them simple and actionable. Too many long-term projects on the list and you’ll get discouraged. When you get discouraged, the list will go out the window like so many other things you’ve tried and given up on before you had a chance to see if they’d actually work.

Step 2: Break it Down

If you’re like me, you have a tendency to set huge projects for yourself, then wonder why nothing ever gets done. I liken it to being a hoarder who wants to reform. You stand in the doorway of a room full of stuff and feel overwhelmed by the project before you even start.

I’ve learned through a great deal of trial and error that every project can be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces. This way, you start seeing successes right away. By deciding how quickly you need to see results, you’ll know how much to break those projects down.

One of my biggest projects is to clean up my garage. Somehow, things always get tossed in there when I don’t know what else to do with them, and soon, everything is falling off shelves and onto the floor where it gets tripped on, stomped on and otherwise scattered around. Recently, while looking for my staple gun (which sadly, I still haven’t located) I faced down the mess which had accumulated in front of my tool box. In about 15 minutes, I had cleared the clutter, re-organized the bottom shelf where I keep the power tools, and swept up the crud which had been coating the floor for years. Yes, I did say years!

The best part is, the space in front of my storage room is now completely clean and clear, making it easier to get in and get to what I need (like, for example, the boxes of wrapping paper and paraphernalia necessary to make beautiful Christmas packages for my kids). I can even accomplish it without aggravating myself with false promises to someday clean up the mess. Why? Because the mess is gone!

Step 3: Set Goals

We all need something to strive for. Just like the hopes, dreams, and goals we have, there is a feeling of accomplishment when we achieve the simplest things; clear the clutter from the dresser, dump the cat food into the bin and put the bag in the recycle barrel, wash the load of towels that’s been accumulating in the garage. Get the picture? It isn’t about getting the whole house clean or all the laundry done. It’s about getting something done. If you’ve made some progress with Step 2, you already have the hang of breaking those goals down into manageable pieces. Here are some examples of small daily goals I set myself. I’ve found they make it easier to set and achieve the larger ones which might span a week, a month or even longer.

  • Wash the dishes
  • Scoop sandboxes
  • Make the bed

And here’s an example of how I break down the larger chores:

  • Wash clothes
  • Fold/hang up clothes
  • Put away clothes

Do you see how you can give yourself credit for each step, and while you’re at it, get something off your list? Not only that, you’re not giving yourself time to stare at the pile of clean laundry for days before you just use it up by wearing it every day. I don’t know about you, but the sight of a laundry basket full of clothes in the middle of my room is a constant reminder of the many things I have to do but haven’t. It’s also a cat magnet in my house, and it’s hard enough to leave the house with minimal fur on my clothing when they’re put away in their proper place!

Step 4: Congratulate Yourself

This may sound silly, but we all need an attaboy now and then. Why not give it to yourself when you check something off your list? Over the last couple of years, I’ve slowly managed, in spite of the ADD which has me starting something, only to go into another room with an item to be put away and start something else, to clear a number of spaces in my home. Many of these spaces are part of larger projects, but the clean spots inspire me. They not only let me know that I am capable of clearing a space, but show me how pleasant it can be to have those clear spaces.

Step 5: Make it Fun

The best way I’ve found to make myself get things done is to turn work into play. It might be something as simple as music in the background or dancing with the vacuum. Or maybe you turn a project into a game, or a competition with yourself (How fast can I…? How many…can I in…minutes?). Think “Whistle While You Work” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Step 6: Reward Yourself

I know you’re thinking you don’t deserve a reward for doing things you should do anyway, but nothing could be further from the truth! Just because you should do them doesn’t always mean you do them willingly, much less, cheerfully. So why not give yourself a treat? (Having spent years fighting my weight, I don’t recommend an edible one unless you’re one of the lucky few who burn off everything you eat!) Here are a few examples of my treats of choice:

  • A couple of hours of reading for pleasure
  • Watching/going to a movie
  • A visit to my local bookstore
  • A foot massage

For you, it might be a hike or a run, a walk on the beach, a nap, a long bath. Use your imagination, and make it something you’ll truly enjoy. Give yourself small rewards for getting one or several of the small things done, but make the reward really special when you get a large task (that you’ve broken down into several smaller ones, of course) completed.

No Excuses. Make that Dream Happen.

Now that you’ve managed the stuff you have to do, you’ll find you not only have more time, but more energy to go after those things you really want. You’ve also acquired a few skills which will make achieving them easier and maybe more fun as well. Use the time and the skills to map out that dream you have of building a business or writing a book or showing your art. It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is it’s something which makes your heart sing with joy. It’s something you don’t have to do. It’s something you want to do but have put off because you don’t think you have time.

By simplifying your life, by making it more fun, you’ve suddenly found hours you didn’t even know you had! I wish you many dreams-come-true.

Don’t Forget the Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I learn and the words with which to share them.
  2. I am grateful for the things I’ve accomplished by simply following the rules I found for myself.
  3. I am grateful for making my dreams come true.
  4. I am grateful for keeping it simple
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, dreams, goals, hopes, friendship, success, writing, published work, readers, followers, clients, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Photo courtesy of Orin Zebest via Flickr

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