I am a goal-oriented person. I do really well with a plan. If all the steps are laid out for me — i.e. marathon training — I will show up every day and do the work. When I don’t have a plan, though, it’s like a blender with the lid off. What am I doing? What’s that over there? Hey that sounds fun! Squirrel! Instagram! Where did this month go?
This fall I was in need of a serious recalibration. My major goals had been accomplished and I was staring into the void. Or, more accurately, I was filling the void with social media and lots of other distractions.
I needed help and it arrived in the form of the Passion Planner. [This is in no way a paid endorsement, though if the #pashfam wants to send an undated planner my way, I would make good use of it]. It emphasized the importance of prioritizing your tasks. We all juggle a zillion balls at any given time but not everything has equal weight. What are the 2 or 3 things that really move you along your path? What if you focused on those and let the time/energy leeches fall to the wayside?
Once I mapped out some goals and the steps they required, it became eminently clear that I needed to spend a whole lot more time reading and writing and a whole lot less time trying to capture the perfect Boomerang video of my dogs. If I was going to make progress, I had to confront the empty time calories in my day and make a conscious change in behavior. I felt overwhelmed by the prospect, but when the student is ready the teacher will appear. Enter Representative Maxine Waters.
To put it bluntly: Rep. Waters does not have time for your bullshit. She has served in Congress for nearly 25 years. She has seen more than enough to know that the current state of political affairs can be upgraded in size from Dumpster Fire to Garbage Barge or Tectonic Plate. This summer, while questioning the Secretary of the Treasury, Rep. Waters grew so frustrated with his evasions that she refused to give her time to his bluster. The video footage of the session went viral and “Reclaiming My Time” arrived in the national consciousness.
In the latest blog posts for ASBX, Tamara and I shared thoughts about comparison and the ways it can help or hinder you creatively. Rep. Waters provided me a much-needed dose of helpful, high-frequency comparison to apply to my everyday life.
Am I scrolling glassy-eyed through Facebook? RECLAIMING MY TIME.
I obsessively checking my phone for any form of a distraction? RECLAIMING MY TIME.
Am I spending too much time thinking about things out of my control? RECLAIMING MY TIME.
I printed out a picture of Rep. Waters from the RECLAIMING MY TIME congressional session and put it on the front of my planner where it stares me down throughout the day. It’s surprising — or maybe it’s not — how often I need this reminder to keep me on task. What’s more, I know Rep. Waters won’t accept my excuses and, frankly, I do not want to let her down.
Once I had Rep. Waters’ watchful gaze to be accountable to, it’s amazing how quickly social media and other time/energy drains lost their appeal. Also, the planner gave me a concrete way to chart my progress (or lack thereof) and a visual representation of the days I did or didn’t show up for a particular task. This made me more motivated to do the work and keep myself moving forward, because MAN do I love checking boxes. For real.
So what about you, Soapboxers? Where and how could you RECLAIM YOUR TIME? What shifts might occur if you put your attention on the things that feed your soul rather than the things that distract you?
I know, it’s the holiday season. I’m looking at the month ahead and realizing that I have some decisions to make. Saying yes to a party or concert will sometimes mean saying no to writing, or vice versa. As easy as it would be to fill my month with social engagements, I simply must retain some time for myself, some time to keep plugging away at my creative endeavors. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. What about you? How are you showing up for yourself this month? If you need an extra boost, check out the RECLAIMING MY TIME gospel remix and repeat after me: Do you know the rules? When it’s my time, I can take it back.
We’re all in this together, Soapboxers. I’m interested to hear from you. Leave a comment or write us at email@example.com .
‘Til next time!
*Mara has a new website! marathomas.com
Hear Mara on Episode 001 of the Artist Soapbox podcast. Read her testimonial here.
Mara’s posts about Imposter Syndrome, Perfectionism, Comparisons.
Mara Thomas is a Durham-based playwright, actor, musician and teaching artist. Her newest original theatre piece, YES TO NOTHING, was commissioned by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concernand played to raving crowds at music venues in Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham in fall 2017.