exploding_green_juice_in_blenderWe have one of those blender things in the corner of the kitchen – the kind where you chuck in pretty much any fruit or vegetable and some liquid and then, with the press of a button, it transforms it into a delicious and nutritious smoothie.

Amazingly, and unlike most faddish appliances we’ve bought in the past, it gets used, every single day – sometimes several times a day. I am very fond of my breakfast smoothie.

But sometimes, despite tightening the lid as best I possibly can and then some, there is leakage. Well, more of a banana and pear explosion really. Not pretty. And a pain to clean up, especially as it tends to happen on mornings when I’m in a hurry.

Given that I’m still a long way from enlightenment, I generally do that human thing of blaming the machine, rather than taking responsibility myself. “I tightened it as far as was humanly possible – either some kitchen gremlin loosened it, or it’s a design fault in the effing machine. It’s not my fault!”

The fact that it never ever happens to my husband just goes to show that … hmm. What?

It was he who lovingly pointed out that

  1. it tends to happen on mornings when I’m in a rush, or slightly stressed, and therefore not really present, not in ‘flow’, and
  2. it only happens when I’ve tried to cram too much fruit or vegetable into the goblet, ignoring the guidance of the MAX FILL line.

I love my life. I love what I do, with a passion. And I’m – gradually – getting better at putting in boundaries, saying no and refraining from over-scheduling myself. Most of the time. But yesterday I lost the plot. Way too many things on the to-do list, far too much in the ‘urgent’ box, not enough time, seriously out of ‘flow’. Overwhelmed, confronted, and it was all my own fault so I couldn’t even blame anyone else!.

The inevitable happened. There was leakage. Well, more of an explosion really. Not pear and banana this time, but stress, sharp words, unpleasant barbs, and stomping. Yes, I STOMPED. I own it. And I’m not proud of it.

I had, once again, ignored the MAX FILL line on my inner goblet.

So later in the day, once I’d cleaned up all the mess I’d created (and which I REALLY didn’t have time to do), and worked my way through that long to-do list, I did some reflection. (Of course getting everything done hadn’t taken half as long as I’d imagined it would, not once I’d got back into being present, focusing on the task in hand, and allowing ‘flow’ to resume.)

It’s ironic really. I deliver trainings on time management, or ‘time ownership’, as I prefer to call it. If we think of time as some hungry devouring wild beast that we somehow have to wrangle into submission before we can even start to tackle the other demands of life, well then we’re exhausted before we even begin. But ‘owning’ our time, choosing powerfully how and where we spend it, in order to best serve our goals and dreams and priorities – well that has a very different feel about it, doesn’t it?

Despite the mess, I’m grateful for the reminders that yesterday’s explosion gave me.

The reminder to stay ‘mindful’, and to be okay with saying ‘no’.

It is a joy to relax into the certain knowledge that everything that needs to get done, will get done. And if it doesn’t – well then, it wasn’t meant to be done! My job is simply to be present, in the moment – whether I’m making breakfast, talking to a friend, coaching a client, preparing a training, phoning a customer, walking the dog, sitting on the loo.

Researchers at NASA invented something called interruption science, to investigate how much people can multi-task. They proved that when you’re switching your focus from one thing to another very quickly, each individual task takes approximately 25% longer. It does the opposite of saving you time. Even more shocking – your IQ drops by 10 to 15 points when multi-tasking, more than if you were smoking marijuana (though without the reduction in stress).

The report didn’t mention if the study was conducted on men or women … but let’s not go there!

So, repeat after me: ‘The only thing I have to do right now is …’

And sometimes what I have to do is simply to say ‘No’, not just to other people’s requests, but to my own demands and expectations.

When we say ‘no’ to something, it allows us to ‘yes’ to something else. I have a theory that it’s much easier to have boundaries if you’re a cold hearted, ultra-focused, blinkered alpha gecko than if you’re an empathic, tree-hugging, bleeding heart koala. If that applies to you, then please borrow my mantra (it works well when I remember to use it): ‘It’s not that I don’t care. I do. And I so appreciate your asking. AND I’m not able to do that right now. Because I also care deeply about …’

Honour the MAX FILL line. It’s there for a reason.