Learn to Red Line
I learned from Easwaran’s stories about how he began to
“red-line” events and meetings in his life that were no longer of highest
importance. I took that advice by beginning to make clear priorities in the
things that I wanted to do more of, and things that I wanted to do less of. I
don’t make New Year’s resolutions – I make “more and less” lists. I’ve done
this for the last five or so years.
Correctly setting my priorities has been at the core of slowing
down for me. I spend much less time doing unnecessary chores, which allows me
to spend more time doing the things that I want to focus on doing more:
spending time with friends and my partner, studying and teaching yoga,
meditating, and focusing on being creative.
I learned to be more practical with my time, too. Being more
practical with my time, especially by redlining projects that I don’t need to
do, allows me to really slow down and be more focused on the things that I’ve
chosen to do.
Take the Time, But Not Too Much Time
Today was a busy day. I paid monthly bills, took care of a long
list of personal business, answered nearly a month’s worth of personal emails,
and had my scooter repaired. I also had lunch with a friend, cooked homemade
food, and am now doing laundry. Oh, and wrote this piece.
To some, a day like this would sound like madness. But the truth
is, I only spend time doing my chores when I’ve taken time out to do them. One
Saturday per month I do errands. It’s my Errand Saturday.
I do only errands on Errand Saturday, and I do not do errands at
any other time (emergencies are the exception). And while I’m doing my errands
on Errand Saturday, I’m concentrating on one errand at a time, and don’t try to
multi-task (except with laundry). I do my best not to get side-tracked.
I use a similar technique when I’m at work. My job is at a
high-paced, multi-billion dollar, internationally-known Silicon Valley tech
company, where email continues to filter in during all hours of day and night.
I’m surrounded by personalities that are sometimes under tremendous pressure,
and need answers immediately, if not yesterday. To manage, I’ve learned to not
pay attention to email until I’ve scheduled time to look at email, taking the
largest chunks of time to do high-priority projects, and not at all sweating
the small stuff. I don’t try to multi-task. I would never stop reading an
important document to be temporarily distracted by email, or read an important
document during a meeting where I’m supposed to be present.
These are all opportunities to be more one-pointed. We may find
something interesting in the document that we’re supposed to be reading, or the
meeting that we’re supposed to be attending. I think that being more
one-pointed with my attention in even small tasks also helps sharpen my
concentration for my next meditation.