Week 1 of the Yoga Journal Boost Your Willpower program: choosing a focus/goal; Week 2: committing to the goal and choosing something to do that will remind you of the goal. Week 3: dealing with setbacks. Week 4 is about "transcending self-improvement," finding your place in the world, connecting with something bigger than yourself, etc. This is the first time with this program that I'm not finding the daily e-mails all that helpful with the week's theme. There's some good stuff in the e-mails, but except for one that advises that we use the self-reflection questions for Week 4 to help us take what we've gained in the program and help others, I'm not seeing a lot to assist with the connect with others thing. I must admit, though, I'm pretty sure I lost one of the e-mails before I read it, and there's one final one coming tomorrow.
Here's something we can use as individuals, though:
Mere desire/anticipation of the happiness we will get from something like, say, visiting our blog reader or Facebook right this minute, or, better yet, checking out Salon or Slate's (Salon AND Slate's) Monday morning recap of Downton Abbey creates a rush in the brain that can act like a stressor. ("Those recaps are fast reads. I just won't look at any of the comments.") We actually feel pressured by the anticipation of how great we're going to feel if we just give in right this minute.
What Yoga Journal calls the 10-minute Time-out can help us deal with that pressure. A 10-minute delay is supposed to be enough to undermine anticipation stress. (I've actually read this before in relation to eating.) If we can divert ourselves for 10 minutes, our minds may let us off the hook. If we can stick with writing that essay/chapter/letter for 10 minutes instead of giving in right away to whatever was threatening to distract us, we may become so involved with the job that we'll no longer be experiencing the stress and can just keep working.
If you know me at all, you know what I'm going to tell you now: What is 10 minutes? It's a unit of time! Once again, the unit system can come into play here. Say you've been working with the 45-minute units of time that the unit system traditionally deals with, but you cannot stick with work for the 30-minutes you have left. You must have your Facebook or Downton Abbey treat. Before giving in to that instant gratification, reset your timer for 10 minutes, leading your brain to think it will get what it wants very soon, and continue working. If the desire/anticipation has relaxed its grip on you when the timer goes off, it may be happy to let you continue working. If the desire to do something else is still there, try setting the timer for ten minutes again. And again. By then you will have worked the 30 minutes that was left in your original 45-minute unit of time.
Then go read the Downton Abbey recaps during your 15 minute break between work sessions. I believe this is what's called having your cake and eating it, too.
Next week I'll do a Boost Your Willpower wrap-up. Then it will be time to dwell on some other aspect of time management for a while.