I am mad at myself!
I don’t even really know how it happened.
Actually, I know exactly why it happened.
Because I didn’t have my priorities down on paper.
I’m speaking for myself here. I am in the middle of a big project. Every 15-minute increment that I invest in this project helps me advance the overwhelming to-do list.
Not to mention, the regular life stuff that doesn’t ever go away.
And it’s RIDICULOUS how much we can accomplish in 15 minutes. Just try it. I can unload the dishwasher and fold two loads of laundry…and put it away. Bam!
Or I can take my dog on a decent length walk.
Or I can whip together the salad for dinner with chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and lettuce…all chopped to my delight.
So why why why would I dedicate three hours to binge watching a show with my husband that I don’t even like? (I said “that” I don’t even like. Not “who” I don’t even like. Just want to make sure we’re clear about that.)
Partly because I thought it would be nice to hang out with him for awhile. That’s the operative word: awhile. Preferably a short while.
Instead, I just kept sitting there. As each episode ended, I said, “Okay, I’m going to go get something done.” Then a first scene would intrigue me, and I’d hang out for just awhile longer.
By 10:00 pm, I was downright mad at myself. I went to bed and set my alarm for 5:00 am.
If you, like me, get frustrated when this happens, let’s chat about how to prevent it.
How To Prevent Mindlessness
1: Decide To Not Allow It.
A LOT of us while away our time spinning in circles or doing absolutely nothing that has value to us.
Deciding not to allow it doesn’t mean you won’t ever do it. And also, choosing to do something to shut down and relax does not fall into the same category as getting lured INTO mindlessness.
I’m talking about true, bona fide, maddening time wasting mindlessness. Binge watching TV, going down the rabbit hole of social media posts, standing in a doorway chatting and gossiping about nothing useful, sleeping more than is needed (usually as a procrastination tactic)….
So back to your decision. Could you hear yourself saying this? “My life means too much to me to be drawn into mindless, wasted time. Whatever I do with my time, it’s because I’ve chosen to do that with my time. I’m the owner of my time.”
Okay, decision is made.
Except, if you don’t want to decide this. That’s okay, too. You can stop reading here. No judgment. XOXO
2: Keep a journal or a to-do list
This is a huge category, and it is preceded by a vision. Let’s talk about vision in the next section. For the moment, we’ll zero in on the tactics of a to-do list.
I dare you to find me a woman who is not overwhelmed by all of the things needing attention. And often, we live in the madness of a daily whirlwind, because we have forgotten how much can be accomplished in 15 minutes.
When the whirlwind is swirling around in your head, it’s overwhelming.
When it is dedicated to paper, we start to take back control.
For purposes of my terribly wasted evening, let me tell you what I could have done with the three hours I spent binge watching this not-very-classy show I don’t even like. Not even a little bit.
- Return a dress that I ordered by mail. 30 minutes round trip…which is precisely why I haven’t done it.
- Buy ten towels that I need to catch up with the new color in the bathroom. 30 extra minutes if tacked on to the dress return….also precisely why I haven’t done it.
- I could have written this blog. 30 minutes. But, wait, I wasn’t frustrated enough yet to have this topic, so scratch that one. 30 minutes back.
- Defrost and grill the three chicken breasts I needed for salads today. 20 minutes of my actual time.
- I’m at 80 minutes right now, and I still have 100 minutes left.
- Blow all the leaves and debris off the patio. 20 minutes.
- Take a walk with the dog. 20 minutes. Why do that when I can be a couch potato all night? Sheesh!
- Still 60 minutes left! When I woke up this morning, what do I WISH I had done last night?
- Finished a module of an online course I’ve been trying to get through for months. Literally. Let’s give that the last hour.
I could have done ALL of that. Darn, Darn, Darn!
I could have said to my husband, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll watch one show with you, and then I’ll leave you to your relaxing, enjoyable evening (because he likes the show….not wasted time for him!), and I’ve got a bunch of things I’d like to get knocked off my list.”
Remember, though, I didn’t have one.
3. Have a vision
Be crystal clear about who you want to be, where you’re headed, what kind of life you want to live today, and what big dream you have to strive toward.
If I kept your attention through, “decide you don’t want to fall into the rabbit hole of mindless, time wasting during your days,” that doesn’t mean I’m going to keep you through #3.
After all, in fairness, not everyone has a vision or a dream or a spark or a constant whisper.
Be certain about whether you do or you don’t.
There is a BIG difference between:
“I’m good! I don’t aspire to live out some big earth-contributing dream”
“I’d love to __________________; I could never make that happen.”
If you fall into the second, wait, what?
Of course you can make it happen.
So, now the absolute need for a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual to-do list just catapulted through the clouds.
Dreamers can’t afford to sit around.
(And remember, you can afford to and need to carve out time for relaxation, sleep, mindfulness, watching your favorite show, doing nothing. But, only because it’s on your list or because you decided.)
4. Grab 15
This is one of my absolutely, positively favorite tricks. I read about this when I was 22 years old, fresh out of college and starting my first job. Oh. My. Gosh. This has helped my bust out of mindlessness and procrastination so many times.
Just do one thing.
Set a timer for 15 minutes.
And really dig in. For 15 minutes.
Pair your conviction to do this with this nifty gadget, available on Amazon: The Miracle TimeCube Timer. The best $15 I’ve spent. (I know, a bit dramatic.)
I wish I had done that last night.
But today is a new day.
I am cranking on the to-do list I made when I woke up this morning. It’s titled, “Things I absolutely have to get done today before I go to sleep.”
What do YOU do to prevent or end mindlessness? Share in the comments.
Have a productive day. XOXO
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This is brilliant, as I finally have a morning to stay home and try and catch up. I think I will start with the list and try not to get derailed.
I hope your list worked out well, Mandy! 🙂
Amazed at what I can accomplish in 15 minutes instead of writing it off as “not enough time” to get something done. Thanks!
Exactly, Lisa! Sometimes, we need to simply step back and think about it.