What day is it?

Career Opportunities podcast logoAsk anyone you know and I am sure you will hear the same thing, “What day is it? How did it get to be 2011 already? The year is moving so fast!” It seems a simple truth that the older you get the faster the days, months and years seem to pass. We go to sleep in one month and wake up in another, not really recalling what happened in between. This year, though, I am going to try and pay more attention to the passing of time and the things I accomplish along the way. Call it mindfullness. Call it paying attention. Call it “Getting Things Done.” No matter what you call it, let’s commit to noticing and remembering more of each days progress.

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Looking at the calendar I see that this is the 14th day and 2nd week of the new year. Both weeks have been very busy for me, but looking back over my calendar (a shared Google Calendar, in my case) I see that I had 11 client calls and 2 user group meetings and 1 night of archery practice with my son. We usually think of calendars as forward-looking devices, but they can be just as useful as a tool to remind us of everything we have accomplished. I even have a service that adds my Twitter messages to my calendar so I can see what I was talking about last week or last month.

Look back at your calendar for the last 2 weeks. How much did you accomplish? How much time did you spend with family and friends? How much time did you focus on what is really important to you? Not enough? What can you do this week to change that? Often we can change our future by focusing a bit more on our past. When we really examine what we did, we can make better plans for what we want to do. You can also change or enhance your focus by blocking out time in your calendar for your most important activities. It can be hard to focus on important issues when faced with the host of tasks that confront us. Too often we reach the Friday only to realize we never got around to this, that or the other. Reserving (or maybe the proper word would be preserving) time in our schedules for our most important task is a great way of reminding ourselves, every day. Of course, if you do preserve time in your calendar, you need to respect it as much as you would respect showing up for an appointment with your boss or doctor. Take the commitment seriously, even when you are only committing to yourself.

One important block of time everyone should offer themselves could be labelled Thinking, Reviewing or for some, Praying. Find an hour in your week that is traditionally slower and quieter than the rest. Maybe you rise before your family or stay awake after the rest of the household is asleep. Mark out that hour and think, really think, about what has happened in the past few days and what you would like to make happen in the week ahead. Schedule this time and respect it every week, no matter what else happens. I think you will be greatly surprised with the results.

Sometimes stopping, really stopping our bodies and minds, is the most important task we can accomplish in our week. I love engaging with the Internet via Twitter, email, messages boards and RSS feeds, but I also know that I need some time, every week, to digest what I have taken in — to review what I have done. Without that time, I reduce the usefulness of all the information. Without time, it becomes a glassy river of data flowing through mind, leaving nothing behind but confusion.

Your task this week is to find that 1 hour in your calendar to mark out for your thinking time. Write me a comment or an email and let me know what time of day works best for you. Where did you carve out that hour to help you do more in the week ahead? Share your thoughts and questions with other Career Opportunities readers and listeners. I will be re-dedicating myself to the same goals and report what I find. Together, let’s see what happens as we enter Week 3 of 2011.

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