Wood floor hourglass

Analysis and adjustment are such a crucial part of anyone’s success at anything. For instance, an airplane taking off from Brisbane, Australia heading for Los Angeles, that mistakenly aims two degrees north will be closer to Hawaii than California, if it makes no adjustments.

I’d recently made one such analysis + adjustment in my own life in an attempt to achieve a different, more satisfying outcome than the one that was on the horizon. After two weeks, I analysed the situation, and realized that the adjustment I had made wasn’t balanced. It was causing increased attention in one subject, yes – something I wanted – but it was also causing a significant decrease in attention toward another subject. Something I hadn’t anticipated in my gleeful planning of this adjustment.

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So, we swing the pendulum back, just not quite as far. Eventually, you’ll hit the sweet spot that will lead to the brightest future of all.

But, this isn’t a post about the value of The Four A’s, it’s a post about the adjustment I made that helped me manage my time better – specifically, my transition time.

My Life: The Swiss Watch

See, I used to think that my life worked like a Swiss watch. And, to many people, it would appear to be that way as most people don’t actually have a strong grasp on their time. I plan, and replan, ultimately attempting to find the perfect balance. Lots of The Four A’s going on.

However, no matter how structured my daily calendar, it was the transition between activities, each representing a different aspect of my life that needed special attention, that was struggling, and causing friction elsewhere. (“Friction” being the operative word – two substances – my time blocks – rubbing against one another and causing “heat”. There wasn’t clear separation.)

Have you ever come home from work and just needed to veg on the couch before being able “to deal” with the family? How about when you went to the gym? Needed time to just cool off before you could talk to anyone?

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Maybe it’s just me, but I find that moving from solo activities to ones where I’m involved with the rest of my family is the hardest. Not only is it a change in activity environment, it’s also a change in casting environment. Further, going from a work situation to a pleasure situation, which my family most definitely is, can add to the difficulties.

The Wood Between the Worlds

What I ultimately came up with is a “wood between the worlds” as C.S. Lewis called it in The Magician’s Nephew. A place that was neither here, nor there. A place where I would leave one world behind, and prepare myself for the next. Here’s how it goes for a work-to-time-with-child transition, for example…

  1. I get up from my desk and sit someplace else. Can’t be at the desk. The desk is “work.” Get up. Change my physiology.
  2. Close my eyes.
  3. Clear my head of the tasks; the stuff; the nonsense of my previous activity. (Because, to my child, it truly is nonsense. Unimportant. Make my work to me, as unimportant as my work is to him. He wants me, not my work.)
  4. When cleared, change my focus.
  5. Ask myself, “Who am I going to be with?”
  6. Ask myself, “What do I love about that person?”
  7. Ask myself, “In my relationship with Jesse (my boy) what is the result I want to achieve in the long-term? (What do I want my relationship with him to look like when he’s 21.)
  8. Ask myself, “What is my short-term result?” (How do I want him to feel after being with me for this time?
  9. Deep breath. Stand up. Open my eyes.
  10. Enter my new environment, prepared.

A 10-step strategy. Six of those being bodily movements. Pretty simple, right? Makes all the difference in the world. How long did it take me to come up with the strategy? About 15 minutes. How often will it work? Every single time. Is it worth it? You bet.

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