As the co-founder of a startup, NakedPoppy, work is on my mind constantly. I mean, it takes full-on obsession to create a company out of thin air.
So, when I try to separate myself from work—specifically when I meditate in the morning—my to-do list tends to creep in and interrupt me. It’s a real struggle to clear my mind when it wants to churn with the responsibilities of the day ahead.
In an ongoing effort to dismiss stressful thoughts, I’ve uncovered a special mantra: I have enough time to do everything I need to do today.
This reassuring statement shifts my mental outlook and reminds me to focus on what’s most important.
Here’s why it’s worked for me—and why I think it can work for you too:
1. It’s a great way to rein in that frenzied feeling.
In this hectic world, it often feels like there’s so much more to do than time to do it in. Time itself becomes a source of anxiety.
I used to complain to my husband and family, “I don’t have enough time for everything!” This would accomplish nothing but stressing me and them out.
The mantra—“I have time to do everything I need to do”—calms my mind and reminds me that I do have the time for what’s necessary.
This brings me to my next point.
2. It’s a good reminder that what we need to do is fairly limited compared to all the reactive things we’re tempted to do.
What would you do if you didn’t have to complete reactive tasks like answering emails?
Let the answer to that question guide the way you spend your time at work.
Decide what’s vital and do it—before anything that’s not.
Liberate yourself to do less, and I predict you’ll find that you do have the time to do everything you need to do.
3. It motivates us to set limits on the amount of time a given effort deserves.
I call this “time-bounding.”
The other day, for example, I had to write a launch announcement. I gave myself exactly one hour to write it. If you don’t give yourself the option to take longer than the time allotted, you’ll be surprised at how efficient you can be.
4. It helps us understand that time can expand or compress, depending on how we choose to spend it.
One way of having enough time to do what matters is to recognize that there is an elastic quality to it, depending on how you use it. It can either be routine and wasted or enriching and doubly productive.
For example, when I’m following a routine, the hours and days can blur.
But when I’m having an interesting conversation under the stars, traveling to somewhere new, or listening to an inspiring speaker in an unusual setting, time slows down and expands. When you get out of your everyday routine, your mind opens to new ideas and insights.
5. It gives us the resolve to clear our heads and meditate when it’s most important.
As my meditation teacher once said, “When you don’t have time to meditate is when you need it most.”
If you can’t find even five minutes to sit still and clear your head, you’ve lost control, and it’s time to take it back. Because taking that precious time to decompress and regroup will help you be more productive in the long run. It’s like giving yourself more time, not wasting it.
Taking control of your time is one of the best things you can do to diminish your stress and boost your productivity. Every time you say, “I’m too busy,” “I can’t get everything done,” or “I’m overwhelmed,” you’re letting time manage you instead of the other way around.
I’ve struggled with feeling over-scheduled for much of my life and am certainly no mindfulness guru. But with the simple practice of starting each day with “I’ve got enough time to do everything I need to do today,” I’ve learned that, as a result, I’m more often right.
This article is brought to you by Minutes Magazine, a magazine that values your time.