Category Archives: Delete

Time is a four-letter word

The Rolling Stones had it right in their song about time not being on their side. It certainly isn’t on mine and from what I see and hear around me it isn’t on anybody else’s radar either.

Sure, the digital world we live in and this constantly being connected has something to do with it. But  too much coming at us non-stop and too much to do have a lot to do with why we feel frazzled and feel like we are running an endless race at Indiana 500 speed.

If I go back to when I was a child (back in the grey ages, of courses) in the 1950s and first half of 1960s, things seemed to be moving a lot slower and there was less to concern ourselves with. But that’s looking at it in hindsight and considering that back then I saw things as a child.

Life was not without its big problems, the main one being my father having cancer (that’s a topic for another post). But I don’t recall my parents, and certainly me, juggling so many balls in life as people do now.

A friend of mine, who is in the same age bracket as me, said she has three quarters of her life’s worth of information running around in her brain. That is part of it.

We also seem to have to do too much and need to learn to slow down – or at least cut some of the crap from our life. We need to ask ourselves what is important to us and that includes the bad as well as the good. If we have financial problems, we can’t say that isn’t important because we don’t like our situation. It stays in – at least as something we have to do something about.

But irrelevant things such as irrelevant phone calls and emails. Do we need to bother with them? Ignore! Ignore! Delete! Delete! Life is too crazy and too short to be bothered with what isn’t important.

Draw up a list of categories or areas in your life that are important to you. Keep it down to a half dozen or less. Figure out what under those areas are important and focus on them. And not all at once. One day it may be your family; one day it may be your health, one day…well you get the picture.

And yes, I know we all get the unexpected surprise – good or bad – and unless it is something devastating like Hurricane Harvey (for another post), you need to stop and think – is it necessary for me to concern myself with this? And if so, is now the best time?

It might help if I could follow my advice.

For those that wonder – my list of important categories is (in no particular order) Family, Health, Work (which includes my soon- to-be published Beyond Faith mystery), House and Garden, and Finances. Anything else shouldn’t even make the priority list.

Of course, some of the above often become mingled.

So it’s out intomy garden I go.

And that’s life.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Delete, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Organizing and Deleting, Prioritizing

Only Child advocates living with purpose

Only Child in one area of her purpose in life.

Only Child in one area of her purpose in life.

Studies show that seniors who have a purpose in life are happier and live longer. This information got me thinking: what is a purposeful life and am I living one?

Although the studies focus on older adults, the main theme can be applied to any age. If your life is constantly one of living from problem to problem, deadline to deadline – just going through the motions to get through another day with no thought why, no wonder you’re stressed, angry, depressed (fill in the word that suits you).

I’m not immune, although I do have a purpose in life. I get caught up in all the crap shoved my way each day – from bad weather causing water leaking into the basement, to overload in demands from others, to financial crisis, to health issues, to just plain too much to do.

Wait a minute. And while you  (and I) are at it – grab a minute…or more to re-focus. Why am I scrambling and rushing around doing all this stuff? Does any of it have anything to do with my purpose in life? Do I actually know or have a purpose in life?

Remember, your purpose in life can change with your time in life. When raising kids, that might be your purpose until they grow up and leave the home nest. Then what is your purpose? You may have become a doctor, lawyer, police officer, etc. because of your purpose in life. Maybe you want to help sick children have a better life, help those living below the poverty level with legal issues, or catch criminals – to simplify matters. But are you doing just that? We’ve probably heard about police officers whose marriages can’t survive the strain of police work. One of my family doctors years ago couldn’t take the stress of his life anymore and killed himself. Then there are the parents being driven “crazy” by their kids.

Often the surrounding activities and problems take over the purpose and you become lost in the ensuing chaos. For example, it might not be your kids per se driving you nuts – but all the activities you have to drive them to at all hours of all days. Ask any hockey parent.

To get back to our seniors and those studies, my mother is a prime example of not having a purpose in life because she figured she lost her purpose. From hindsight I can see that Mom’s purpose was twofold – raising me and looking after my dad, particularly after he got cancer (when I was 9) and his other illnesses. Remember this was the late 1950s to mid-1960s. When Dad died (when I was 16), mother lost one of her life purposes and the other one (me) was a teenager. Enough said on the latter although by today’s and even those days’ standards I was a “good girl.” After Dad died, Mom’s arthritis showed up; so did her scleroderma. She had to quit work (which she had returned to when Dad was in the hospital) and I had to hurry and finish my secretarial course and get out in the work world. Mom died at the age of 63 from a brain aneurysm.

I’ve made it past Mom’s death age, but not Dad’s (66)…yet. But I keep trucking on. Why? I have a purpose in life, although many of you may wonder about that from some of my previous postings. But like many others, my purpose gets buried in all the day-to-day crap. Much that I place in “delay” should really go into “delete” and get well, deleted from my life. I “should” delegate more, but what I want to delegate (my business bookkeeping and tax return preparation, weekly housecleaning) I can’t afford. Therefore, I have to “do.” So far doing job trades hasn’t worked out except for one instance currently being done – but that is keeping the trades in one area – writing and writing-related tasks. Any attempts at bartering across different areas haven’t worked. Appliance repair people, plumbers, electricians, want money and usually upfront.

We need to re-look at what we do each day (myself included) and be ruthless about what should go out the window (preferably an open window; can’t afford broken windows). You can’t throws all the hateful jobs out. But maybe they’re only temporary and telling yourself this can help you get through your day. We must also not forget our passion, our purpose in life. Perhaps we can do one little thing each day with our passion. Perhaps inspiring writers bogged down in diapers, toys and car pooling, can write – 10 or 15 minutes only daily – in a journal about how they feel, what is bugging them, etc. And are some of the things you do related to your passion?

You can probably guess what at least a part of my passion is? It is living my life creatively and helping others to do so. That encompasses writing, teaching writing to aspiring writers, and yes even editing (for now), gardening, cooking, and walking…by exploring different places –parks or city areas, etc. – I can create a walking adventure and often get more story ideas. (Couldn’t resist the latter).

I’ve known since age 11 when I came in second in an essay-writing contest what my life’s purpose is. Like many others I got and get distracted. So I have to make myself return to the four D’s in my life – Do, Delay, Delegate, and Delete, so that the Delay stops bursting at its seams and at least the Delete increases and the Do is more what comprises my purpose and passion in life.

What about you?

Meantime, check out the ginger tapestry website and the article “The Three Paths to Purposeful Living at http://www.innertapestry.org/articles/vol-11-3/1021-the-three-paths-to-purposeful-living.html I don’t agree with all the author’s ideas, but I am pleased that he isn’t a sheep follower of the Law of Attraction. Neither am I – and I’m not really a big believer in it either.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

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Filed under Balance, Delay tactics, Delete, Family, Happiness, Law of Attraction, Life Purpose, Mom and Dad, Only child, Passion, Prioritizing, Seniors, Seniors and Happiness, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child tries to tame time

One of Only Child's teddy bears sits on time to tame it

My late father’s obsession with time has passed down to me. Unlike Dad, I don’t obsess about taking my watch in to the jeweller’s to get it regulated. Like him, I keep looking at my watch and the many clocks in my house (four in my office if you include the two on the computers and the one on my wrist. I refused to put the battery in for the digital clock on the stereo). Lately, this obsession has me trying to tame time, or rather tame what I am doing in my business and personal life.

Right now I’m reading Peter Bregman’s 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done. (http://peterbregman.com/). The first part is about finding your vision, including what you don’t like doing. Been there, done that. However, when he gets down to the nitty-gritty of time management on page 100 about Creating Your Annual Focus, he has me hooked. Without a focus you can’t plan your day. He suggests dividing your year’s focus into five (more or less) categories and use that as your daily planning guidelines. If it doesn’t fit in, don’t do it. I have four categories: Self, Family and Friends, House and Property and Career. I have to watch I don’t overload any one of them for any day.  Bregman has another category which I just love and started to include: an Ignore list. That list gives you so much power and makes you feel justified for example, refusing to waste time chatting with friends (phone, email, Twitter, in person) during business time. And because last month I obsessed and spent so much time dealing with administrative snafus caused by others in both business and personal, my ignore list has that on it – with one exception – the one administrative snafu I may decide to deal with that day.

So, from what I’ve read in Bregman’s book and elsewhere, from personal experience, here are some suggestions for taming your time.

  1. Have an annual focus and divide it into four, five, six categories.
  2. Use those categories to plan each day – your “to do” list (the night before – that 18 minutes works fine) for business and personal. Bregman says not to worry if one or two categories are much shorter. If one item on one list conflicts in time with an item on another list, Bregman, says to choose. He gives the example of two family birthday celebrations conflicting with the time when he was asked to speak about his work. He chose the family celebration.
  3. Have a daily ignore list and list what you will not do that day.
  4. Follow your “to do” list and your “ignore” list. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get everything done on your “to do” list.
  5. Set regular times to check and answer email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, phone messages and stick to it. Turn your Blackberry or iPhone off and put it in a desk drawer. Do a voice mail message letting everyone know when you are available (be positive, rather than negative here). Check your messages – two or three times a day maximum, not every five minutes.
  6. Use the four D’s (I’ve changed the categories slightly) – Delete, Dump, Delay, Don’t Do. Delete email but Dump things you do that you don’t want to do or that don’t fit in with your annual focus. Delay some tasks that do fit in but you can’t get to right now. And my favourite – Don’t Do. Don’t join that committee if you don’t have time for meetings, etc.
  7. Make the word “NO” a big part of your vocabulary and use it.
  8. Spend time with your family and friends – but don’t let them monitor your time. For example, don’t let a whiney friend take over your work time or family time or your personal time to complain about his or her latest problem.
  9. Don’t forget yourself. You need to be in the category list. Your health is important. Alone time where you can just read, meditate, etc. is important.
  10. And try not to feel guilty about doing the other nine suggestions. Focus on the sense of mastery, achievement, connecting more with your family and self, and just plain not letting other people and things take over your time. And take a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief.

How do you manage your time?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Delete, Life demands, Only child, Peter Bregman, Time management, Vision

Only Child views September’s new beginnings

Only Child age 8 Holy Cross grade school photo

September is too fast approaching and kids, teens  and others will be returning to school or college. I remember the mixture of anticipation and dread of that first day back after two months of freedom. Back in the grey ages I could smell the pencils, paper and print from the books – it’s a miracle I didn’t get high. I wondered who would be my teacher(s) and who would be in my class(es). Not all was smooth sailing for someone who was shy and quiet (then, not now. Try shutting me up today). As I write in my memoir, I had some difficulties with one particular nun in grade 2.

In grade 2 we applied our Grade 1 reading skills in exercises.

“Turn to page 12, exercise A,” Mother St. Helen says. She stands behind her desk. She holds the exercise book, alternating between glancing down at it and over at us. “When you are finished it and exercise B, you may quietly bring them up here for me to look at.” She sits down.

For the next 15 to 20 minutes the only sounds are the flipping of pages and the scratching of pencils. I read through each question and write down my answer or draw the picture required. Some of the students finish quickly and line up at Mother’s desk, so now I hear her occasional, “That’s wrong. How do you expect to pass Grade 2,” and “Good.”

I have now completed the work, so pick up the exercise book, which is the size of a thick colouring book and climb out from behind the desk, walk up to the front and line up. Nora and Michael stand in front of me and as Mother looks at Nora’s work and says, “Good,” I think I also have done all right.

“How do you expect to pass grade 2?” Mother asks Michael.

I hope I have done all right.

It is now my turn. I say nothing as I place the open exercise book before Mother. She presses her lips together as she follows along on the page with her pencil. When she reaches the bottom, she jerks the book at me.

“What’s this?” she asks.

I look down and read out loud. “Draw an X.”

“The word isn’t ‘X;’ it’s an ‘axe.’ ”

I have drawn an “X.”

“Stupid,” she says. “You should know better than that.” She whacks the pencil against my nose.

Tears well up in my eyes. My face must be turning red because Mother is looking a little strange for Mother.

“I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?”

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

But that was back then. Now, with this September lurking near, it might be a good idea to focus on renewing ourselves, what we do, and what we really don’t have to do. Some of us are in a too relaxed mode and September can thrust us in overwhelm and overload. Here are a few ideas to help get us through the next month or so (Do as I write, not necessarily as I will do).

1. Make a list of what you do, what you think you have to do in both work and personal.

2. Use the three D’s – delay, delegate, delete as you scrutinize all the items in your “to-do” list. Ask yourself: What can you get someone else to do? What can you put off doing until another time? What can you delete or never do?

3. Tell yourself that the biggest word in your dictionary is NO. Repeat it to yourself, out loud. And keep it in mind when someone asks you to do something you really don’t have time to do. All it takes is a “No, sorry, but I have a full schedule and really don’t have the time to do…” And courage to say it. If I had more courage here I might have said, “no,” back in July to phoning member of my graduation high school class for the reunion coming up in October. But I had to get the list of classmates with their possible current contact info. I’m not a journalist with a nosy mind for nothing.

4. Find some relax time – go and sit in your garden, a park, go for a walk, meditate, listen to soothing music, read a book, heck even watch some of  the new TV shows.

5. And don’t beat yourself up mentally (or otherwise) if you fall off the balance wagon. Nobody is perfect. (I will repeat that one to myself like a mantra, along with the “No.”)

I think my friend, Fran, had the best way of summing this up – consider what is best for you right now, not what someone else thinks you should be doing. I tend to agree with her. What about you? I’d like comments on how you plan to deal with the September rush and its back-to-business mode.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Back to School, Balance, Delete, Life demands, Memoir writing, No, Only child, Only child memoir, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Reading escapism, School, School days, September, Stress, Teachers, Time management, to do list