Time Containers

I don’t know if it’s ADD or ADHD or what set of initials it would be called, but sometimes I want to do ten things simultaneously. When this happens, I start one thing, jump to another, stop doing any of it, have a drink of water and consider what I would like to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or Ugh!!! Too many choices everywhere! It’s paralyzing! Sound familiar?

It happened this past week. I’m moving at the end of the month. I need to start sorting and packing; I’m taking a year-long Compassionate Inquiry intensive with Gabor Maté, so I’ve got to study. I’m learning Spanish—can’t interrupt that 420-day streak on Duolingo; I have a client in a couple of hours. I have to eat lunch, and my car needs new tires, so I need to do some tire research, make that tiring—car stuff.

Not being able to focus makes me want to scream!

Then I remembered a tip my friend Jessica offered back when I was writing a novel and finding it challenging to sit down and write. It’s always so easy to find a wall that needs painting, a wooden floor that could use refinishing or a plant looking as if it’s time for repotting in lieu of putting words on a page. She said, “Set a timer for five, 10 or 15 minutes and write for that long. Then set it again. She reminded me of that trick when I was moving from Los Angeles and had to go through everything I owned and select what I was keeping and what I was selling, a grueling task – set a timer for 25 minutes, rest for 10, then set another timer.

Time containers. What a helpful way to focus.

Small chunks of dedicated time make it much easier to focus on the task at hand; the essential things you need to do that aren’t related to what you’re doing now fall to the back burner.

So this past week, when I found myself spinning in circles leaning towards settling into an episode of Grace and Frankie, I remembered the timer trick. I decided I was going to work on the move for 30 minutes. Then study for an hour. So I set the timer and started sorting through my things. It turns out I didn’t hit start, and I ended up packing for an hour; the good news is I was focused for that hour because I had a plan. Then I studied and got to practice compassion for myself for not starting the timer. Life working out.

Smaller time containers are easier to face, and what I’ve found ends up happening is I can spend extended amounts of time on the thing I need to get done because flow happens. The process calms my desire to jump all over the place, try to do ten things at once and end up not getting anything done at all.

You can also set a time container to doodle, draw, go for a hike, or to do nothing at all except what comes up at the moment—time to flow free and allow yourself to simply be. It feels luxurious.

Give it a try. Maybe time containers can work for you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *