Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Oranges vs. the Hazelnuts

As you all know, I am taking a professional training course to become a heath councilor with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The lessons are all on an ipod that came with my books and then there is a lot of support material on the website. I have been using my commute time on the train and bus to listen to the classes. On Thursday, I watched a video with Joshua Rosenthal demonstrating a "surprising time management secret".

He had three containers. one was about 3/4 full of hazelnuts, one was empty, and the other held 6 oranges. The hazelnuts represented all the tasks we have to do in our lives. The 6 oranges represented the really important things that we want to accomplish while we are here.

He demonstrated how we spend most of our time on the tasks by pouring the hazelnuts into the empty container, listing off menial tasks as he poured. He stopped occasionally to put in an orange, when he got done pouring the hazelnuts, the rest of the oranges wouldn't fit, and he said, "Sometimes people forget to do the important stuff, and one day they look around and say, 'Oh. I forgot to have kids.' or 'Oh. Where did my relationship go?'"

He then put the oranges back in their bowl and the hazelnuts back in their container. He said, "Do the important things first. Figure out what they are and do them. Don't worry about the other stuff. Concentrate on what is important to you." And he put all the oranges into the empty container. . . "All the tasks get done anyway." and he poured the hazelnuts over the oranges, they filtered into the empty spaces and it all fit.

It actually brought tears to my eyes.

Sometimes I get so freaked out by all the crap that needs done that I miss doing things that are important. For example, I forgot to call my aunt on her 80th birthday. What was I doing? Who knows, but I can tell you it wasn't important. Also, I just get distracted. I stare at the net. I go out to dinner. I work late. I watch a movie. And then I end up studying for long periods of time with long periods of time in-between. I know that doesn't work for information retention and I feel unorganized.

So, the first question to ask is, "What are the things that are important to me?"

My heath/exercise
Training to become a heath councilor
My relationship
My grandson/family
Looking for, finding and moving to, a place where we can grow food

And the second question is, "How can I concentrate on these things?"

Time reorganization feels like a possible answer. We have the time we have and we do with it what we will. I am a creature of habit just like everyone else. Routine is hard to shift. I've read that it takes 2 weeks to break a habit and a month to get a new one to stick. So, a new schedule focused on my priorities. I'm a professional planner. I'll create a new plan for myself. I'll keep you updated.

This isn't profound. It's a shift.

I'm lucky. I actually have the privilege of  working with a health councilor while I'm in school. She's got my back. I'll be sharing my new plan with her and she'll be holding me to account. For me, telling others what I'm up to helps make it a reality. It helps me remember what I want to do be doing. And, oddly, remembering what I want to be doing isn't always that easy.

I'll also be enrolling Mr. Green. I'm discovering, through time, Mr. Green's patience and stick-to-it-iveness that I can't be the lone ranger and be in a relationship at the same time. . . sharing what's going on is important. At 47 I'm still working on getting past "I can do it all myself and I don't need your help." Which really doesn't work that well if I want to actually have the "relationshipness" that I crave. An orange for sure.

And for you? What are the Oranges in your life?