The following are a few practices I have found helpful. They have helped me enjoy life and at the same time experience some effectiveness. You might give each one some thought. Perhaps some other practices have been or will be more helpful to you. This is great. We are all learning and perhaps what you share will stimulate some thought.
4. Practice emotional self-management. Emotion is wonderful. In fact, it is a gift of God. Yet, far too many of us live week to week fueled by negative emotions that have little or nothing to do with what is happening in the present. For example, some people have experienced hurt or disappointment in the past that continues to fuel their anger many years later. I have noticed that some ministers are very angry people. That anger may have nothing to do with their present church but is a hold-over from painful moments years earlier. There are other people who are fueled by fear. They may do fine as long as things are predictable, but they often experience an emotional meltdown if their plans are disturbed.
This is something I really learned the hard way. As an adult, I began our marriage very emotionally unaware. I had no idea what I was feeling about half the time, much less how to deal with it. The roots for this went back to my early growing-up years. This lack of awareness impacted my work as well. Very often when I felt down, low, anxious, etc., I did not recognize it. Consequently it would often leak out in some very unproductive behaviors or attitudes at home (i.e., being moody, withdrawing at home, being irritable). What helped? Visiting with a counselor over a period of months (about 18 years ago). Finally, I started listening to my wife. I tried to label what I was feeling at different times during the week.
5. Choose to laugh and enjoy what you are doing. My work can be very stressful at times. Perhaps your work is like this as well. Life in general can be stressful. This is one reason why I am grateful for one of the great contributions that my friend Bill Petty has made to my life. He believes in the importance of having fun. Funny things happen all the time. It is good to laugh. Sometimes I just accidentally do something silly. It’s great to laugh at yourself! Laughter can help you be less self-conscious. (By the way, you put everyone around you at ease when you laugh at yourself.) Yes, there are appropriate times and inappropriate times to laugh and have fun. Yet, many of us are so tight and stressed about a variety of things that laughter would be very refreshing.
6. Have some kind of system for managing time. I am not talking about managing time for the purpose of getting more done. Rather, I am talking about the need for some system of managing time so that the way you spend the 24 hours in a day in some way lines up with your priorities. Is this ever important! How easy it is to spend hours and hours on Facebook, surfing the Internet, watching television, and doing all kinds of things that may contribute very little toward investing in what you say is important to you.
I first started using a system that was based on Stephen Covey’s work. Very, very helpful. The Franklin-Covey tools were also useful to me for a number of years. Then I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and began to use tools that I found in his approach. Now, I use a combination of both.
I use an on-line tool (Backpack) to manage my various lists. If you open my main Backpack page, I have a list of "projects." These projects cover my life on a number of fronts, both at work and home. A project is anything that requires more than one step in order to get it done. For instance, on the right-hand bar I might have a project called "Paint the House." This project will have a number of actions that need to be done in order to paint the house. This project list might include the following:
*Go to Sherwin-Williams and look at brown paint.
*Go to Wal-Mart and look at paint.
*Pick up masking tape at Wal-Mart.
*Talk with neighbor about borrowing a ladder.
*Tape the master bathroom, etc.
These are steps I will need to take in order to paint our house. I will put one or two of these steps on my daily "Next Step" list (i.e., "To Do" list). That list is then printed. There will generally be two pages. These are the actual actions that I need to take on a particular day. (Of course, I don’t usually get everything done on this list.) I keep this in a slender binder on my desk. I also keep, in this binder, a hard copy of my calendar. (I use Google Calendar.)
I find this helpful. Now you may or may not. The point I am trying to stress is that there is not a certain tool that one ought to use to manage time. Use what fits you and what works for you.
More later. What has been helpful to you as you think about enjoying life and yet being effective?