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  • Writer's picture Marilynne Cahn

Smell the roses

Updated: Jul 24, 2022

One of the most common sentences I hear in my practice is ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I didn’t have time’. Time just is – we can’t make more time or have less time. What we all want is to use our time in ways that suits us best and feels meaningful – so that we do get to do the things we’ve been putting off for weeks, months or even years…the things that give us joy and satisfaction.

Many years ago, I learnt from a life coach to factor the ‘what I’d like to do if I had time’ events into my calendar – just the way I entered business appointments and project schedules. Mostly I felt guilty about taking time for myself and not being there make sure everything was working as it should...control! It was a life changer for me. Looking after your mind, body and soul is essential in order to really appreciate the moments of your life. Sometimes this means allowing ourselves to let go of the illusion of control.

Research shows that, for many of us, if we are productive, mostly we can fit our work load into four days instead of the statutory five days – leaving us with three days of ‘me time’. Progressive organisations, corporations and also many small businesses are on board with flexible working hours – understanding the needs of their employees to respond to their family responsibilities and to feel happier at work, and therefore more productive. However, like many other areas of our lives, there are strong cultural belief systems that shape our thought processes and attitudes e.g. – the five-day working week. It will take time for a cultural shift in attitudes here, and for many organisations, we can see that the system we have is necessary.

When we nourish ourselves as best as we can, using our time wisely, we’re doing a great service to ourselves, our families and our communities. There is always time to stop and smell the roses. Always time to take a deep breath, relax and be in the moment. There is always time to take ten minutes to reflect and let go of the brain chatter, the to-do list, the need to always be doing something. Sometimes out of feelings of guilt, anxiety, uncertainty and apathy, we get into a pattern of avoidance around nurturing ourselves. Like any addiction, we feed it – our brain recognises the pattern and it becomes a cycle that we find hard to break.

With our modern smart phones and computers, it’s so easy to organise your day, week or month – reducing the anxiety around appointments, jobs that need to be finished and other commitments – leaving the brain free to attend to what is needed in the moment. A good idea is to make an alternative ‘to-do’ list of the things you would like to do if you had the time. Start with ten – put them in your calendar or reminders, and commit to them like you would with a doctor’s appointment. The shift in your life will become noticeable …it will empower you to know you can be active, rather than reactive.

Protect your time. What needs less time? What needs more time?

Start today and notice the difference!

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