Nine Words That Are Changing My Life

I often arrive at the end of my day having accomplished a lot, although rarely all that I had hoped. I’ve tried many approaches to setting and resetting priorities, and confess to being a nearly obsessive list-maker. While lists remind me of what I want to do throughout my day (and sometimes my evening), they do not help determine how much time to spend on any one activity or project. By now you may be thinking, “It’s just not that complicated,” and you are absolutely right. It’s not – except for me.

I love simple solutions but had never found one that helped me navigate the day and, at its end, feel great about all I had done. Even on my most productive days I often felt that what I had accomplished was less than what was possible. Then, while driving to work one morning about six weeks ago, I was thinking about the overly-scheduled day ahead, wondering (and in total honesty, worrying) about how I could possibly accomplish my priorities for the day. I couldn’t help but smile because I frequently advise others that the answers to our questions lie within. So I took a very deep breath and asked myself, “What expression can I keep top-of-mind throughout the day to help me accomplish the most in the time available?” In a moment the answer came…”Is this the best use of my precious time?”

It was a simple question and over the next several days, when I was responding to e-mail, working on a project, heading to a meeting or returning phone calls, I silently asked, “Is this the best use of my time right now?” The answer always came immediately to mind. When it was “Yes” I continued what I was doing, and when it was “No” I moved on to something else. After a few days I was feeling much better about how I was spending my time, but also realized that what had prompted this experiment wasn’t just about the use of my TIME, it was more precisely about how I invested my ENERGY. I understood that if I ventured out of the present moment, if I worried about people or situations out of my control, I was expending energy that would be better invested in what had to be done NOW. After careful consideration, I modified my question to a variation of the original — “Is this the best use of my precious energy?” Much better.

Since reframing the question, I have asked it many, many times each day and evening. It has helped me be choiceful about how, where and on what/whom I invest my precious energy. My natural tendency to “push through” in an attempt to get everything done has now been tempered by the realization that every moment of my time and every ounce of my energy truly are precious. For me, asking the simple question “Is this the best use of my precious energy?” has made all the difference in the world.

, ,

14 Responses to Nine Words That Are Changing My Life

  1. Gayle Northrop March 24, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    I have used similar ideas to try to frame, focus and constantly be conscious of my priorities and how I spend my time, but I can see how clear, concise and multi-faceted that one question is. I look forward to trying it! My quest for balance and to focus on what is truly important in my life seems to only get stronger with each passing day, month, year. Thank you Sharon!

    • sharon March 25, 2014 at 7:52 am #

      Gayle, thanks very much for sharing your experience. I love the way you frame your “quest for balance” because it is truly that. Sending a grateful hug!

      Sharon

  2. Ann lee-jeffs March 24, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Sharon, as woman, it is a continual challenge to focus in ME, and asking this very important foundational question of “is this worth MY time.” I make an effort to ask myself and others this question to get back to the basics – “Why are you doing what you are doing?”

    • sharon March 24, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

      Thanks very much for your comment, Ann, and for providing a perspective on getting back to basics.

      Happy Spring and a big hug,

      Sharon

  3. MP March 23, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    I LOVE this. So helpful.

    I am finally learning that staying in the present, and that being responsive, instead of reactive sure is a journey. But one that’s worth every step.

    • sharon March 23, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

      Thanks very much, MP! Grateful to share your journey.

      Sending love and a big hug,

      Sharon

  4. Pamela March 23, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    Luv this and very timely as I continue to search for guidance and support in the area of prioritizing my energy. Sharon, I recall our conversation about the perception of calm/cool ( similar to a duck gliding across a calming river), however, the pace of the duck’s flippers (under the water) really tell the story. Well, I’m still there searching for balance and opportunities to invest in more me-time.

    • sharon March 23, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

      Pamela, thanks very much for taking the time to share your personal experience with us. I enthusiastically applaud your efforts to find opportunities to invest in more you-time, and I know this is a challenge that so many women face. Sending loving support as you continue to explore the possibilities.

      With love and a big hug,

      Sharon

  5. Pauline March 23, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    This is so true. Our days tend to be consumed with tasks that when completed can lead to more tasks. I have also found that doing something just for myself in the morning, whether it be stretching, tai chi or exercise, allows me to handle better what unfolds throughout the day. In times of “craziness” I can reflect on what I have done to take care of me, and no one can take that away. You have provided another reflection, is this the best use of precious me!

    • sharon March 23, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

      Many thanks for sharing your thoughts, Pauline. I appreciate your advice that doing something just for ourselves in the morning helps set us up for a good day.

      With love and a big hug,

      Sharon

  6. Claudia Schmidt March 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Powerful insight, thanks for the reminder.

    • sharon March 23, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

      Claudia, thanks so much for your comment. Great to hear from you!

      Sending love and a big hug,

      Sharon

  7. Henna Inam March 23, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Hi Sharon –

    Love that question: “Is this the best use of my precious energy”… and what immediately came to mind for me was asking this question not just for the activities I was doing, but for all those thoughts that we get throughout the day that deplete our energy – – e.g. worrying about something I have no control over that happened in the past, or fretting about how something will go in the future.

    This is a brilliant question that brings us to the present moment. Love it! Am going to practice it!

    Sending hugs back.

    Henna

    • sharon March 23, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

      Thanks very much for taking the time to share your insights, Henna. Yes, while we know that we are at our best when we are in the present moment, most of us struggle to stay here.

      With all the best wishes and a big hug,

      Sharon