How to transform your life, get your dream project done and why the time blocking work method may be a disaster

580191_640pxby Suzanne L. Beenackers

In 2001 my life was stuck in all the ways that it can be; I had lost my father, who had been very important to me in determining what I wanted. Which I didn’t know, so I just settled for what he wanted. I was on sick leave from a job I didn’t like.  And I knew I would never be able to return fulltime to a corporate job; my body would just keep protesting.

So there I was, in my late twenties with an academic degree I didn’t intend to use anymore, a job I had no perspective of returning to, and no compass to lead the way. I felt like half my life was missing.

It was in that vacuum I upped my yoga practice from half an hour occasionally, to 1 or 2 hours a day before breakfast. And I wouldn’t pick up the phone or open the mail before noon. I set my boundaries on which time was mine, and when I would deal with insurance companies and my employer. And although I felt guilty not being able to go to work, I knew the answer was not to be on call the whole day. I needed to step out of the victim role and set my boundaries. So I did.

In the twelve months that followed, my life truly transformed. First I got fired, and the employer made the very costly mistake of threatening to fire me without any financial compensation, if I didn’t accept his suggested settlement. This immediately shifted my feelings from guilt, and compassion, to rage. I hired the most aggressive and specialized lawyer I could find, and he got me a lot of money. Then I hired another lawyer to tackle the insurance company, and I got my sick payments. In the meantime I had moved to Nijmegen, and the insurance company here also didn’t want to pay, so I hired a lawyer for that.

Within twelve months I won three cases, moved to Nijmegen, found my calling as a yoga teacher and got the means to start my own business. I would never have to return to corporate life again and made a full physical recovery.

My desire for more

In the years that followed I kept doing yoga, and often implemented it as a challenge, from 7 days to 100 days, but it never, ever had the same results as it had in 2001. My life never transformed. The only thing that happened was that I either kept/ succeeded in my challenge (or simply could feel satisfied I had a regular home yoga practice) but I never reached that level of success again, of really shifting my life around in a short amount of time.

Until last weekend, when I made a discovery.

The secret ingredient in 2001 was not yoga. Or it was, but not as a one-size-fits-always solution. The reason I had transformed my life in 2001 was because

1. I acknowledged the problem

Any problem that you still blame on someone else, that you think should be solved by someone else, or any problem that you think you shouldn’t have because “it’s not fair” will never be solved. You have to take 100% responsibility and make it your number 1 priority.

2. Declutter/ create space.

When I didn’t pick up the phone, nor checked mail, till noon, what I basically did is, I created space and decluttered my mind from distractions. This is now even more important than in 2001. Do you have any idea how much energy you lose looking in your Inbox with that strange unsettling expectation to be satisfied? You look into your inbox, almost like a fridge that you habitually open, and you’re like: I have no idea what I expected to find here

Or even worse, you have notifications on your smartphone or desktop.
That little “pling” works directly in your “addiction brain” Did you know that?

Current best practice is to work in 2 hour blocks, and shut off notifications then, but I think (and I think science will back me up on this soon enough)
DON T BLOCK YOUR PRODUCTIVE HOURS,
BLOCK YOUR NON-PRODUCTIVE HOURS
For example only check mail and do follow up calls from 15.00-17.00 And not in the weekend. If you work within an organisation you have to modify this, and if you’re already booked full, and have no tendency to get distracted using email or Facebook, then hail to you.

But if you are responsible for your own time management, I URGE you to now and forever block your online (=non-productive) availability. It’s like quitting smoking: you know you can’t go on like this, and that you ll have to deal with it one day. The sooner you do this, the sooner you have created space to solve your biggest challenge (or focus on your priorities at work)

Creating mental clarity by limiting your online availability is key. But also the physical space you live in. I recommend that before you start this quest to transform you life, you declutter the space you live in.

Okay, so now you’ve created space in your life and in your mind. But unless you put in something new, all you ll be doing is fighting LIFE (most likely in the form of your own bad habits) that will want to creep back into the gap. So- and this is key- in order to have more peace of mind at any point in your life, not only do you have to create space, but I also urge you to build or insert something new into your life to take up all that space.
That is the only way to seal the deal to your new life.

Which brings us to step three.

3. Get the right training/ create the right program

So, let’s say I ve identified my problem as “I really want a relationship”. And I ve cleared my house and created space in my calendar. Now I’m all set to make this my number 1 priority. So personally I would choose a mix of taking great care of myself, living an amazing and interesting life so I attract the right partner who’s also living his super happy life. I would probably do some nice urban magic rituals (such as; clearing his side of the closet if I desire a man to move in together, and determine what his side of the bed is, and not sleep there), and read books, watch YouTubes and mine through Layla Martin’s website.
That would be my personalized Find the Man of my Dreams Program.

Other problems or projects you could make a priority are:
– writing a novel
– growing your business
– studying a topic f.e. healing yourself of certain mental blocks, or recurring fears, or getting your wealthy healthy aka improve your money mindset
– planning your wedding
– painting your house
– planning a sabbatical
– getting an education and studying and practicing this new craft
– planning for a baby or a pregnancy
This is something Tara Stiles recently shared in her newsletter; before she got pregnant she and her husband created space in their works schedules, so it would still be sustainable once they had a baby. After this, she was pregnant within two months.
– at work too you may choose one big project and clear your calendar, instead of staying available for the small stuff.
– if you have your own company, choosing one topic and really diving into it for a week or so (such as marketing) can also be really rewarding, versus trying to work on different things throughout your day.

Why it wasn’t yoga

So the “mistake” I ve been making, ever since 2001, is that I thought yoga was the magic ingredient. It’s not.

First of all, I practiced yoga one or two hours straight. That’s not a hobby, that’s a purpose. If I had ever been that dedicated again, the results would have been better.

Secondly, yoga is the right training for when your life is without purpose, when you’re body is in pain, and you have to reclaim your power because you have a long string of legal battles waiting for you. Then yoga is perfect. And if I would ever fall ill in the sense of burnout or heart problems or something, I would immediately return to 1 to 2 hours of yoga a day. But it’s no magic pill.

The magic in creating your own transformation, is to take your problem seriously,
create space, and then design your own specific training or project.

It’s easier now than it ever was. For example Marissa Peer videos on YouTube are a great source to become mentally strong again. There’s tons of stuff on money and mindset (my favorite resource is Denise Duffield Thomas) And at Udemy.com you find a million different inspiring training on any subject, and at nearly no cost including Sadie Nardini’s yoga teacher training programs.

The second biggest mistake

So my first mistake was to think the magic was in the yoga. And not acknowledging that every problem has its own “magic pill”.

And secondly – and I already mentioned this briefly – I had not realized that yoga had been a priority. It was the only thing I seriously invested in. In 2001 I didn’t squeeze my yoga into half an hour a day, but I lived and breathed on that mat until I had all the answers.

So this mistake- to think “oh I did yoga then, let’s do yoga now” – without realizing it was A LOT OF YOGA is related to something massively important. And not just to me, but I m estimating this is essential (and possibly new) to about half of you. And it relates to something fundamentally “wrong” in current time management:

Current time management and productivity management leans heavily on the idea that your day should be divided into little blocks of super productive, concentrated time, at which you disconnect from the world. And then after two hours of writing your article on brain surgery, or after half an hour of intense yoga, you’re all smiles for family members and co-workers, have a coffee and a nice short break, and then you’re on for your next super condensed productivity module.

Well guess what?

For all creative work, for all scientific work, for computer programming and for anyone who works with his or her right side of the brain; this work method is an absolute disaster.

I don’t know where we went from the praising getting into the workflow or flow in the late nineties/ early zeros, to the idea that time is something linear that you can chop up into pieces. But I do know I have been investing in trying to fit my life into blocks for the past ten years or so, only to have it taken over immediately and completely, the moment I started writing, or redesigning my website or whatever.

If you are looking for a transformation in your life, if you want to finish your dream project, plan your wedding, grow your business, learn a new skill, save yourself or find a dream partner, and have been unsuccessful at a lot of things, until now, I invite you;
FOCUS
clear your calendar and work on your project for as long as your other obligations allow you to;
for as many days straight as possible;
for as many weeks as necessary;
And make this thing your number one priority until you live and breathe it and until you know all the answers.

I remember walking into the third lawyer’s office. It was 2002, and I lived in Nijmegen. I had found him through the internet and had selected him on his specialization and experience.
The lawyer said he would accept the assignment but that he had to warn me: he didn’t win all his cases.
And with unwavering confidence I shook it off and said:
“Don’t worry. I do.”

 

NB
This is an extra blogpost: next week is a holiday, and I m offline for the whole week

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “How to transform your life, get your dream project done and why the time blocking work method may be a disaster

  1. Just when I started to feel guilty about the amount of time I am clearing in my schedule to work on the one thing that I really wanna work on…. Thanx s much for this blog and your timing! 😉 ❤

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