Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Alcoholics Anonymous, Holy Grails, and Control Freaks

I talk a lot about prioritizing time here, especially writing time. Sometimes I practice what I preach, sometimes I don’t. The truth is, I’m a control freak. I’m getting better the older I get, but I’m still looking for the ever-illusive way to manage and balance my time, money, and weight/fitness. To me, being able to control these three aspects of my life is like the Holy Grail of a balanced life. And being as it is a Holy Grail, I’ll probably never achieve it. But if it exists, I think maybe… a huge MAYBE… the Grail is kept at Alcoholics Anonymous.

Though, I’ve never been a drinker—as in I don’t drink—I admire their philosophies. They apply well to managing time (especially writing time), weight control, exercise, and money.

Modifying some of their steps, I’ve come up with a few of my own…
1. Admit there’s room for improvement.
Books (and any large projects, for that matter) are created in those stolen moments of time. Sure we wish we all had big blocks of time, but the surprising progress is made in the 15-30 minutes we chisel away at the rough-cut stone. The same thing could be applied for finding time to exercise. Spend sometime evaluating where in your life you can spare fifteen to twenty-five minutes, with five more left for mental preparation to move on to the next thing in your day. (Another tip: As you list how you spend your days, especially identify the areas you consider time wasters. These are golden opportunities for carving out time for more important things.)
2. Write an inventory of the reasons why you are tempted to “waste” time/not write/not exercise/eat too much or unhealthily/spend too much money. These reasons may seem big or trivial.
3. Open your heart. Be ready to improve.
4. Make a list or a chart of accountability. How much time are you really spending on writing? Exercising? Shopping? How many calories are you eating? How much money are you spending? There is great power in a written report of our doings.
5. Practice self-control. Then give yourself little rewards for the restraint and courage you’ve showed.
6. The above all said, if being too regimented is sucking the fun out of you, then don’t it. There is a happy medium for every person and if looking back and seeing how much you’ve accomplished doesn’t outweigh the drudgery of accounting for your time, then something must change. Account for activities weekly instead of daily. Or if nothing else, run through a mental check of your doings at the end of the day. Doing some accounting will improve your productivity better than doing none.

As I have said, I’m no expert at managing time for writing/exercise/blogging. (Obviously—I’ve neglected blogging most of the summer!) For sure I can’t balance a budget to save my over-indulgent life. But I’m trying! And if you’re too, I hope my take on AA has given you some ideas of your own to help you.

P. S. Notice I’m only to Step 6… haven’t made it any farther in my own program… lol.

Q4U: Anyone have great time or money management techniques they’d like to share? I would love to hear your ideas!