Friday, October 06, 2006

Four steps to re-create your world

Four simple, interlocking steps can be the start to creating the world you always have wanted.

1) Get rid of the things that are holding you back.

2) Get onto a real schedule and keep on it.

3) Eat right and get some exercise.

4) Pray/Meditate/Review daily.

Let's take these one at a time:

1) Get rid of the things that are holding you back.

Turn off the TV and gain 3-4 hours a day.

Figure that the bulk of your lifetime is spent working to make income and spending your hard-won income for someone else. You spend 40 hours working and some 10 hours or more commuting each week to that job. Many, especially in the Midwest with our lower income job scenarios, will work three jobs between one couple as they raise their kids. Take out the 7/8 hours sleep we get a night - 56 or so hours a week. Now, if all your spare time (62 hours, not including meals) is spent in front of the boob tube, then you are giving up the majority of your "thunking" time to someone else.

If you aren't moving forward by improving something in your life, are you moving backwards or what? If you are thinking for someone else all the time, what are you accomplishing in your life?

You routinely work at solving someone else's problems at work. Commuting is spent listening to popular radio shows - you are trying to "take your mind off" the stresses of the job or the commute or whatever. Lunch is hobnobbing or gossiping and is another escape from work stress. When you then get home, your 5 hours each night watching a movie or syndicated TV show (leaving you one hour to get ready for work in the morning).

Helluva life, huh? You have the weekend only to get any thinking done for yourself. Two days of relative peace and quiet. Do you spend these days recovering after the late-night parties on Friday and Saturday night? Again - who are you working for? What is all your precious spare time being spent on?

If you really want to improve yourself, the question becomes: How do you invest the time you spend on this planet daily and weekly?

If you are spending your time thinking for someone else, then using the money you gain in all sorts of "entertainment" devices and rentals and expenses - you are spending your time for someone else. There is no personal gain in watching TV, reading newspapers, or popular novels - if the reason you are doing this is as a distraction to the real world.

If there is something in your life you would like to improve, then you obviously have to start re-investing the available waking hours you have to better use. Something's gotta give.

At work, your best use is not daydreaming, but getting your job done and getting more efficient at what you do so that you are kept on and keep getting valuable raises each year, let alone promotions.

During commutes, you might use that CD player most cars to play inspirational or self-help MP-3's - or learn another language, or listen to audio versions of books you need for your job or your spare time hobbies.

When you get home, don't turn on the TV. Just say no for a couple of weeks. Don't read the newspaper. Fire up the computer and get some news and sports summaries instead. Only read the articles which you are really interested in and feel will do you some good or improve your life in some fashion. This doesn't mean you drop out of touch - it just means that you can use the computer to selectively keep only those top stories you really need to know about. Means the network and cable news programs can't just distract you anytime and in any sequence they want to. Get your news and then get off the computer. Don't sit there and fire up a video game.

Now, you have all this free time every day - about 3-4 hours - where you can do what you want.

If you are interested in self-improvement, here is where you plug in your own schedule or program to accomplish what you want. Exercise, do yoga, pray/meditate, start studying to train up on what you want.

But the first point is clearing out your life of unnecessary control. Imagine all the commercials you don't have to listen to anymore. (Especially during political season - you already pick who you want based on word-of-mouth and how your parents voted, so let's be real about these guys and their hatchet-job ads on each other.) Ignore the mainstream press and also the cable guys. Ignore popular TV (except those shows which forward your own personal improvement program, like educational channels).

Turn off the TV, only watch the Internet selectively. Start taking charge of your own world and those few hours you have which you can call your own.

Clean your room.

Now that's something you can do. Get a thorough house-cleaning done and work in a schedule to keep it clean through weekly action. Get those old files organized or thrown out. Yes, you should keep your old financial records for some years, but box them up and put them into a nice, dry space suitably labeled. Otherwise, do you really need all those old newspapers and magazines? If they really are collectors items, then get them into plastic protectors and store them where they can't get damaged. But if they stay around the house, they get damaged and lose value - same for getting dusty.

Re-organize your stuff so that you can find it when you need it. Closets get this way - clutter, clutter, clutter. Horizontal surfaces like tool benches can get like this. But this isn't to say you have to become a "clean-freak" or get obsessive on this subject. Just get some tool boxes for the tools you have, or a pegboard where they can go back when you are through using them. Leave your projects out where you are working on them, but keep the parts in containers so they don't get lost if you have to move the project before you are done. Just keep track of things.

Set up your life so that you can quickly put things away when you get them and don't just lay things around or stack them on various surfaces. Go over those shelves and figure if you are keeping stuff you don't need anymore. You should have some references to look up facts and so on. Some magazines are great in a collection - so these get file boxes or binders with labels, so you can find things when you need them.

You have to organize things according to what product you are supposed to be producing. It's really that simple. If you don't really know what you are trying to accomplish in life, then that is an underlying question to answer.

I've heard of organizations which have taken this to extremes. A carpentry section was made to clean up every mote of sawdust after every single piece of wood was cut. They weren't allowed to clean up at the end of the day, or before a meal break, or at a logical point like at the end of a project or before they started painting or finishing, but after the sanding. (But this example was from a control-freak organization which has been in the middle of imploding for some time.)

Maintenence is another point. Forest fire fighters clean and sharpen their equipment no matter how tired they are when they finish a job. The tools are ready instantly when they need them. I know of farmers who don't clean their equipment or maintain it until they need it - and then waste valuable days getting something ready when they could be planting. Other farmers had shops where they pulled each piece of equipment they owned right in sometime during the winter and got them all prepped for spring. It's a matter of what lifestyle you want to lead.

Just organize and clean so you can find stuff when you want to get something done.

Throw the junk out.

When you are cleaning along, you will probably find stuff that is hard to find a place for. This may be because it doesn't really have a use any more. Do you really need that pile of adult-themed magazines? Maybe you can sell them online, but maybe we'd all be better off if you just junked the lot.

Computers can get pretty filled up with nonsense. But perhaps you only need a search program so you can find stuff by keyword, even on your own machine. But programs you don't need just slow your computer down. One graphic artist I knew kept the basic law of constantly backing up her files so that a minimum of 50 percent of her computer hard-drive was free at any given time. In these days of massively cheap storage, this might not make as much sense. I personally use a website mirroring program to capture good sites which are full of reference materials, so that I can then search quickly on my own computer for specific files when I am researching a particular subject. But the massive sites which host innumerable cheesecake photos have no place on my computers, since I get nothing out of the titillation.

So computers have to be cleaned and organized as well. But don't make a life out of it. Figure what you are trying to accomplish and how your computer assists in that.

How you clean up your life goes big and small. You may want to clean up a section of your room at a single sitting or over a weekend. But when you turn the TV off, you suddenly have a great deal more time to invest in such projects. When you do get your personal spaces under control and organized, you will find that you are making far more progress toward your goals.

Purpose and goals

I've covered some of this point of your life purpose and goals earlier. I'm not going to review it here, other than the point that you have to organize your life so that you can accomplish your goals, which then enable you to achieve your life's purpose or make considerable progress toward it.

But you have to organize for it. Get your spaces in order, both personal and work spaces. Insist those around you also keep good order so that they can achieve their goals and/or at least don't hold you back.

The next step is to organize your time - which has to do with schedules.

2) Get onto a real schedule and keep on it.

3) Eat right and get some exercise.

4) Pray/Meditate/Review daily.

(draft... stay tuned...)

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