Being free to experience life to the fullest is a concept that most of us chase. We understand that there is a value in being free. A value in engaging in what our heart desires. And ultimately in being fully present to soak up this exact moment in time. But what we often neglect to realize, is that a huge piece of the puzzle in obtaining that freedom is discipline itself.
Discipline being a part of the equation to obtain freedom seems very contradictory. They are downright opposite of one another. But, if you look closer at your calendar and how you spend the same 24hrs a day that everyone is given, it becomes more evident that freedom and discipline have to work hand in hand.
Let’s start with an example. You have kids, a spouse, a job, a social life, and several competing interests. You also have 24hrs a day E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y. That never changes. Yet, you are trying to fit all your roles in to 24hrs as if you are superwoman or superman. And you are probably ending each day feeling like you came up short. The to do list didn’t get done, the kids didn’t get enough attention, neither did your spouse and you can’t seem to find time to catch up with a good friend. You go to bed and wake up the next day to do the same darn thing over again. It’s a cycle and you can’t seem to break it. But when you finally do get a moment out at dinner or a quick social hour, you feel great! It’s a relief from the constant pull of being needed. You can just be you, for that hour and enjoy the moment. You can laugh and feel the essence of who you are again. UNTIL, you remember that you forgot to grab bread from the grocery store to make sandwiches in the morning! Dang it! It’s always something! And just like that, your “free moment” is no longer free. Not because you necessarily had to leave and head to the store, but because your mind, body, and soul are no longer free to be in the present moment. They are instead weighed down by your responsibilities and roles.
You see, freedom for someone who has a lot of responsibilities and roles, can only be obtained when the responsibilities and roles are in order. This goes back to how you spend your 24hrs each day and how you block your calendar. It’s very important to recognize what’s important to you, otherwise it’s easy to allow things to penetrate your 24hrs that are simply a waste of time. Once you 1) recognize that you own your calendar and 2) acknowledge what is truly important to you, you can begin the process of calendar blocking.
What is calendar blocking? It’s your personal formula for how you spend your time. I’m sure you are the master of color coding your calendar to keep the household schedule in order, but calendar blocking is a little more focused than that. The first concept is that certain days of the week can have a theme. For example, you might want to spend Wednesdays focusing on mail and finances while Thursdays are set aside for relationship building. The idea behind this is maximizing your focus. Even though you “could” do mail, finances and relationship building on both Wednesday and Thursday, is your time truly maximized?
Our brains do a much better job of completing tasks when we narrow our focus. And if you think about it, mail and finances versus relationship building, are two very different mindsets. Therefore, you might get more done in a shorter period of time if your days have focused themes. The second part of this is putting the mundane things like “laundry” on your calendar. You probably put meetings on your calendar, but not laundry. The meeting makes the cut because it involves someone else’s time and feels more important. Understandably so. But, what we don’t realize is that we are giving someone else’s time more value than our own AND we are allowing blind spots. In our blind spots are tasks that we allow out of our direct view. You are more likely to get the task done and avoid blind spots if your long to do list is actually incorporated into your calendar. By transferring tasks from your to do list, to your calendar, you bring those tasks into your direct view and out of your blind spot. Also, if laundry made the calendar, you would be giving the time it takes to complete your tasks just as much importance as you give to other people’s time.
Your calendar will fill up quickly and you will soon realize how fast 24hrs comes and goes. But with a more realistic, disciplined and focused calendar, you can now enjoy the freedom of truly being in the moment. You can be spontaneous knowing that your calendar is taking care of your business. You can laugh to the point that your cheeks hurt. You can completely jam out to your favorite song and sing at the top of your lungs. You can realize a new opportunity because your heart was open to the signs of the universe. Your roles and responsibilities are spoken for and now you can fully be you. Free to be your muse in the present moment, because guess what? You already got the bread from the grocery store!