Planning for Presence

Frenzy kills focus. And I’m addicted to it.

When I decided to make this the year of presence I was several days into a 10-day meditation retreat, so I was feeling calm and open. So far, the year has not turned out to be so spacious.

That’s why it was Noruz when I finally got this blog launched.

I blew right through January, past the lunar new year and was heading toward opening day of baseball season (the annual rite where all hope springs eternal). I was so excited there was yet another new year I could glom onto.

Apparently, peak demand is my new normal, so I would like to learn how to live with it. As a business owner, when opportunity knocks, you answer the door – even in your bathrobe.

Space is something I will need to create for myself.

So I recently spent a whole day planning. I planned my entire month, blocking out chunks of work time for various projects on my calendar.

Planning gives me permission to be in the now, not the next. With good planning, I can rest in the assurance that space for the next is already allotted, including the space dedicating to planning.

At least, that’s the idea. The real work happens in trusting the process.

“Stay on target!” says Luke Skywalker’s fellow fighter pilot to his fleet. “Stay on target!”

That’s how Luke destroys the Death Star and saves the universe. The only possible way he could do it was to stay on target.

I’m also in a battle of sorts, one I’ve deeply internalized into an addiction. I’m addicted to the frenzy that I feed by over-scheduling, short-changing, and rushing, rushing, rushing. Underlying it all is a persistent worry that I really should be doing something other than whatever it is I’m doing right now.  

You may think the word addiction is an exaggeration. I don’t think so.

Despite having moved more than a thousand miles away 30 years ago, I think I’m recreating the chaos of my family with my addiction to the frenzy.

I’ve had a trillion dollars worth of therapy (slight exaggeration) and sat for countless hours of meditation, but I still end up more days than not with a tight feeling in the pit of my stomach. It often comes from trying to fit a square peg of activity into a round hole of time.

Last year I made a lot of progress in breaking this addiction by opening up my schedule, taking Fridays off and eating breakfast at the table instead of in the car. And it helped a lot.

But life doesn’t always allow this. Whether by choice or necessity, I should be able to keep a full schedule without being frenetic.

I’m certain it’s possible.

Planning is one weapon of choice. One I hope will hit the target, day after day, hour after hour, and obliterate the forces of darkness that cut short my life and rob my potential.

Not a simple to-do list, but real planning, taking into account all that’s foreseeable.

Here’s where I get into trouble:

Falling through the cracks.

Accounting for transitions is by far my biggest problem. I allow enough travel time for the car, but not enough time for my body to get from the parking lot to the bathroom and then on to building security and finally into the meeting.

Bonked by boomerangs.

Just because someone else is doing the bulk of the work doesn’t mean it won’t come back to me for review. It most certainly will. I used to never schedule that time. My calendar would already be full when the boomerang hit.

Skimming.

I’m great on the fly, but I can make more of every opportunity by having it together before I walk in the meeting. And I’ll have more fun doing it. That goes for birthdays and celebrations too. I feel happy and calm when I’ve taken the time to pick a thoughtful gift.

I’ve definitely experienced some carryover from last year’s more open schedule, but I have to start anew every day and sometimes several times a day. Just like meditation, I strive to come back to the focus without judgment, and start again.

To be flexible enough to change the plan when needed but not so flexible that I throw my plan out the window because my default is the frenzy.

Each return is another rep on the nautilus machine to build the muscles that will hold me up straight after I have been cramped over for so long.

What about you? Got any ideas about how to plan your way through the frenzy?