Skimming through my daily set of blogs this afternoon, I encountered one of the many productivity posts out there, outlining a system for organizing your life, managing time and getting things done in an orderly and effective manner. These things pop up all over in different forms all over the web, appealing to our universal desire to live better and easier lives.
The ideas are good, like classifying tasks by importance, limiting email to a certain block of time, or restricting aspects of your life that eat away time. I feel, however, that, though implicit in these suggestions for life management, the most important message is missing.
We are independent beings, aware and in control of what we do and don’t do. Simple, right? Except that when you start running through your day-to-day actions and interactions, you begin to notice thoughts such as, “I can’t believe he’s making me do this.” or “if only I could sleep in a few more minutes.” We deceive ourselves, essentially shifting the blame for unpleasant realities upon the shoulders of other individuals, circumstances and fate…when really each and every bit of our lives is a choice made consciously or unconsciously by us.
Now, consider the potential liberty and empowerment accompanying this newfound power. Say you’re daydreaming in class because I’m tired and don’t want to be there. If I consciously engage in these moments and recognize that it is by my choice, not someone else’s, that I’m here, it becomes my time and my thing to be made the most of.
Daydreaming becomes time to process some interesting piece of the lecture, or planning time for the rest of the week. Hours stuck in traffic, related to my choice to drive to work (I could have biked, quit my job, or previously sought a job for which telecommuting was an option) becomes a time to mentally go through a presentation I’m giving that morning, a chance to get up to date on world affairs on the radio or podcast, or a time to get back in touch with friends and family.
We always have a choice. Let’s own these day-to-day choices and turn a dreadfully dull or painful experience into something that can enrich the day and teach something new.