Feeling disorganized? Ungrounded?
Want to feel organized? Peaceful? Calm?
Cheryl Richardson has a suggestion.
In Chapter Four of her book,
Cheryl talks about the power of rhythm and routine and suggests a simple experiment in order to create more security, stability and groundedness in our lives.
Sit quietly, take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself the following question:
What one routine could I put in place this month that would improve my life the most?
Make note of the first thing that bubbles to mind (literally – write it down on a 3 x 5 card) and keep it in view all month. Be especially sure to capture it on paper and follow through if what bubbles up is something you’d rather ignore. Chances are That One Thing is exactly what you need to do.
Now, for the next thirty days, make That One Thing part of your routine. After you’ve had it in place for a week or so, spend some time reflecting on how it has affected your well-being. Be sure to keep track of any positive results you experience so you have a written record of the benefits you experience so you can remind yourself of why it was a good thing to do on those days when you ‘forget’ to do it.
And those days will happen.
We’re so human.
Which reminds me, you may need to make a plan if this new routine affects other people. For instance, you might have to let your family know not to disturb you for the half hour you spend every evening writing in your journal or meditating or for an hour on Friday afternoons when you prepare for the week ahead, planning your weekly menu, grocery and errand list. Or you may need to inform your colleagues that you are now unavailable from 1:00 to 3:00 every day so that you can close the door and work uninterrupted.
One example that is top-of-mind for me concerns handling emails. When I let the sound of an incoming email distract me from my work, not only is my focus interrupted (which is bad enough), but I add another thing for my mind to juggle when I finally return to the task at hand, which dilutes my focus (and effectiveness) even further.
A simple new routine might be to check my email only a couple of predetermined times a day.
It seems to me that this would be a helpful habit to create in everyday life. I think about how attached we are to our cell phones and incoming calls and texts. Perhaps our days would be more serene and productive if we didn’t jump to respond every time our phone buzzed. Perhaps turning it off entirely for periods of time – nap time for cell phones – would contribute to a more peaceful mind and life.
When my son attended the Waldorf school, the teachers constantly stressed the importance of creating a consistent rhythm in our children’s lives. Not just a daily rhythm, but weekly, monthly and seasonal rhythms as well. Children are less stressed when they know what is coming from day to day. And the annual traditions we recreate year after year on special days like birthdays and Christmas are eagerly anticipated, fondly recalled and, over time, weave a comfortable web of familiarity, nourishment and safety.
We need that no less than our children do.
When Cheryl asked herself what one routine she could put in place the answer she received involved going to bed and getting up at a consistent time each day.
“Oh, that’s a good one,” I thought. “I should do that.”
But that was Cheryl’s answer, not mine.
I’m curious to see what comes up for me.
Once I find a minute to sit down, take a few deep breaths, and ask the question.