Can you let go?

Photo courtesy of Alex&Luiba (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Alex&Luiba (Creative Commons)

Sixty-five degrees and sunny in February. Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Especially after the winter we have had. But that’s what happened on Saturday, and boy was I ready to soak up that warmth and sunshine.

Thankfully, it happened on a Saturday, so I wasn’t stuck inside at work, and surprisingly, I did not have a single commitment that day that tied me to the clock. Rare, I know.

So I took advantage. I had a nice run without having to bundle up, and I spent a long time during the afternoon sitting on my porch in the sunshine reading. Yes, just reading a spy novel.

But you know why I was able to do that and not feel guilty or like I was shirking duties? Because I’ve been better about making sure my obligations and “stuff to do” was written down, rather than just letting it hang out in my head. I had a plan for what I needed to get done over the weekend, and knew that I could finish what I had to on Sunday.

And that allowed me to live in the MOMENT, which is one of my three focus words for the year (read about that here).

It probably sounds counter-intuitive that I had to plan to be in the moment. Let me explain.

David Allen, productivity guru and author of Getting Things Done (GTD), talks about a state he calls “mind like water” which is achievable if you have gotten everything out of your head and down into logical lists and next action steps. He tells us that your head is an awful place to store things, and will tend to remind you of things you need to do at the wrong time or when you can’t take care of it.

By getting all the things that have your attention out of your head, then you can focus on what you need to at the appropriate time. I have been very guilty lately of not keeping good lists, and having ideas, obligations, and reminders firing off in my mind at totally inappropriate times – like in the middle of a project or other tasks, or when I’m trying to go to sleep. And when I do try to take some time to relax, I can’t fully relax because there’s that annoying idea niggling in the back of my head that there is something else I need to be doing.

So yesterday morning, I spent some time just doing a brain dump – I wrote down everything I’ve had on my mind, from pay bills, create an agenda for a meeting this week and schedule rent – to iron, catch up on email and research wicker porch furniture. All of it.

Once I could see it all, I felt much less overwhelmed. I guess in my head the tasks and obligations were swirling and repeating so they seemed so much worse and due all at once! Seeing it down on paper, I realized that not all of it was due right away, and I could prioritize and make a plan.

And that plan involved getting some things done that morning, leaving the afternoon free, and getting more done on Sunday, when the weather was not forecast to be quite as warm or sunny.

So I could sit on the porch in the sun and read without worrying about what I was not doing or that I was forgetting something. I was truly in the moment, and it felt great.

What do you need to plan so you can live in the moment?