Structure Sunday: The Structure of Time

For life to be good, we need a rhythm in the day, the week, the month, the season and the year. These circles within circles allow us to feel accomplishment, and to look forward to celebration. These finite periods allow what is overwhelming to become manageable. Structuring time helps us take the one lifetime that is ours, and fill it mindfully. 

I need to feel I am making progress on my long term goals every year. I use the annual holidays like Thanksgiving and New Years for self assessment. I can look back at the same time one year back and see the changes. 

The seasons hold a different joy. Each time I am sad to see the leaves fall, I am, shortly thereafter, shocked by the beauty of frost and snow. I am reminded that all seasons hold beautiful surprises, and that I am foolish to imagine that nothing exciting is around the corner. 

My business cycle is the month. This is how bills are paid, and accounts are balanced. Accountability is examined month by month. Actual money is one representation of work and effort, and as such it is a useful tool to use in gauging how we are meeting our responsibilities. 

My work cycle is the week. I want a chance to get stuff done, and I want to be creative in that work. I try to pace myself all week long, with a lighter day midweek, then forge on to the weekend, when I would hope to be creative. 

My personal cycle is the day. I believe we all thrive with a good day's work. However, in my opinion, this includes some important health and productivity features. Consider the basics:  sleep , nutrition and exercise. Most people need at least 7 hours of sleep. With this, you will have more concentration, stamina and productivity. You might even have a better mood. Life is just more fun and you will be more successful with a modicum of sleep. 

Food is so important! It is your fuel. You should frontload your day with a healthy breakfast of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. That will turn on your metabolism and your brain. Later in the day, food can give you several healthful recharges: your midmorning snack, your lunch, and your afternoon snack. This way you will not tank your metabolism, feel sluggish, or hardly be able to think. Eating three meals and three snacks per day is a foundational principle of nutrition, and will help you feel better and perform better. 

Somewhere in the course of the day you must carve out at least a half an hour for exercise. It is best to schedule this formally, just like a meeting or an appointment, and to take it just as seriously. The magic of routines will reward you if you persevere. The more you do it, the easier it will be. 

 Everyone from a teen mom to the CEO of a large corporation needs a schedule. To achieve mastery over your time, you must invest in either a paper or electronic system. Smartphones generally come with everything you need in this regard, but the old school day runners can do just as well. But these alone won't do the trick. You must develop a routine of sitting down with the schedule to look it over and fill it in mindfully. I recommend looking at your schedule every Sunday to assess the coming week, and also looking every evening to prep for the next day. Make your schedule check a routine. The habit will stick better if you do it at the same time and place every day. 

Routine lowers stress. Breaking up goals and plotting them over time encourages success. These are among some of the most important things I want for my patients. The particulars I teach them about disease conditions and health maintenance will not help them unless they can follow through on the recommended treatment or prevention steps. Fostering patient success will continue to be a big thrust of this blog and the website in general. 

For more information, please see the hyperlinks in the text. Have a great week !