Lessons from markers, dogs, and the 3-letter word
When it comes to creating order in your workspace, sometimes it’s the smallest changes that have the greatest positive impact on your work and well-being.
I discovered an assumption recently that I consider it “free time” when I don’t have a task or appointment scheduled on my calendar. I was frittering away perfectly good work time watching Ellen videos and reading Facebook – and then wondering why I wasn’t getting anything done. Yipes!
Three weeks ago, I started a new practice that is benefiting both my productivity and spirituality.
It has so revolutionized my focus, that I thought I’d share it with you in case you want to try it.
Now, before you go thinking I’m a genius, I’ll tell you that someone else thought of this before I did. In Abraham-Hicks, they call it the ‘placemat technique’. What I’m doing is a variation on that theme… without the manifest-y stuff. And also with a different outcome. But it’s similar. Aaaanyway…
Big, colorful, and grape-scented
I needed some structure with my work flow.
Since I’m a tactile learner, I love to use huge pieces of paper and sweeping movements with my whole body to think and plan. I am also a raving fan of those fruit-scented magic markers. Mmm. Strawberry… Lime… Blueberry… Sorry, I digress.
Anyway, I like to use these tools and methods because they’re so natural and fun for me. So I decided to use them with the intention of focusing better when I have unscheduled work time.
Monday morning magic markers
At the beginning of the week, I reflect on what goals I want to move forward. I check my calendar to see how much free time I actually have to work on these projects.
Then, using 2’x3′ Post-It(R) flip chart paper, I create two columns. The first column says “Jen” – and I write down the things I’d really like to do in the next 5 days. This week, for example, it looks like this:
- Plan steps for 4HS
- Meet with Marketing Director (me)
- Prep for smARTist event
- Plan to update December expenses/income
- Update pricing on website
- Write article for newsletter
I hang this colorful, fruity paper on the wall next to my desk. When I find myself getting distracted or confused about what I want to be doing, it’s right there. When I finish something, I use another marker and cross it off.
It’s amazing how something so simple can help me be so focused and productive.
What’s in the other column?
I mentioned that there are 2 columns. The second column says “God”. This is one of the most amazing, radical things I’ve ever done in my business. I’m delegating stuff to the Divine.
Now, maybe you’re thinking I’m being blasphemous or that all the recent retreats to the Abbey have made an impact on me. Maybe both are true.
But here’s the thing. Stuff happens every day that I cannot handle. I can’t handle it because I don’t understand it, or it frightens me, or I feel huge resistance to dealing with it. This happens for everyone. Every day. Conflict happens. Surprises happen. Things fall through.
All the stuff I cannot handle
At 3:45am, guess what I do? I wake up and start to worry about all of it. It sucks. Maybe you can relate.
Lately, I’ve started to realize that not a single bit of worrying I’ve ever done has ever changed a thing.
If anything, worry has made matters worse. “What if I don’t make enough money this month?” turns into awkward conversations with loved ones. “Do I have anything to wear tomorrow?” turns into a panicky morning and an uncomfortable day. “Is she mad at me?” et cetera – you know what I mean?
Worrying, no matter how skilled I am at it, is not helping me – or my business.
As a kid, I remember playing with a friend’s young golden retriever. “Sensi, drop it.” She had a tennis ball, but she wouldn’t obey. I didn’t yell, I just said it calmly, persistently, over and over, “Drrrrrop it, Sensi. Drrrrrop it. Drop. Sensi, drop it. Drrrrrrrop it.”
And some days, I think that’s exactly what God must be saying to me. “Drrrrrrop it, Jen. Drop. Jen, drrrrrop it. “
My ego really, really wants to hang on to control and try to handle everything. Yet there’s a deeper place in me that wants to hand over the scary stuff and the confusing stuff and the hard stuff. And maybe pick it up later when I feel more ready.
So I started this practice of writing a God List every week, along with my own to-dos, to practice dropping it and actively handing it over.
This week, it looks like this:
- bill paying system
- my week “off”
- hard drive backup
- too much to do
If it’s on this list, it means I have NO idea what to do about it and I’m not sure what my next step is. Because it’s on God’s list, I don’t have to worry. I delegated it. It’ll get dealt with.
I’ll bet you know what’s coming next, but I’m still amazed. After 3 weeks, everything I’ve delegated to God so far has gotten resolved. Inspired Spouse’s broken laptop. Feeling overwhelmed. Snarly budget stuff. I don’t know why it has worked out this way. In fact, I don’t need to know. It just has.
All from writing God a to-do list in watermelon-scented marker.
A word on names: If you wanted to try this yourself, it doesn’t really matter what your religious views are. Instead of a God List, you could write a to-do list for the Universe. Or the Divine. Or the Earth. Or Love. There are thousands of names for the Thing That is Bigger Than Us. I just picked one that works for me.
Practice taking conscious ownership of the things you can handle – and purposely giving away the rest to Something Bigger. Scary? You bet. But it’s worth it. It’s clutter-clearing for the spirit.
Thoughts? Yeah, buts? Me toos?