Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

The Single Most Important Insight from Tracking My Time

Autumn Trees - Change

If you’ve read some of my recent articles, you probably sense my wish to let go of the unnecessary busyness in my life life and dwell more frequently in stillness.

This isn’t a new development.

Interestingly, the first two articles where written around my birthday month, when change always seems to be the order of the day, and the third as I entered the last quarter of my birthday year.

This past week of time tracking served as a wake-up call.  It revealed activities which are not aligned with my values, priorities, and deepest goals.  During the process, I looked at each aspect of my existence and asked, “Is this in line with my life purpose?”  Time tracking also showed me precisely where I can simplify my life and stop wasting time.

Time-tracking can do this for you too.  If you would like to give it a try, you can download and use my free time tracking log.

Why Do We Stray from Our Life Purpose?

As you can see, I’ve kept returning to the same theme again and again these past three years.  You might wonder, “Why doesn’t she just get on with it and shut up about it?”  And that would be a valid question, indeed.

The answer is simple and probably one all too familiar to you as well:  Fear and attachment.

  • Fear of uncertainty
  • Fear of silence
  • Fear of solitude
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of growing old and not having enough
  • Attachment to receiving validation
  • Attachment to helping
  • Attachment to a specific identify
  • Attachment to the comforts of life

I’m sure there are more of these hiding deep inside because I’m just human like you. No doubt your fears and attachments take a different shape, but still may keep you for staying in tune with your own life purpose.

Ironically, despite these concerns, when I’ve entered into stillness – and I’ve done so for weeks and months at a time – I’ve always found profound nourishment.

Even though I’ve veered a bit off-track, I’m not entirely lacking in discipline.  For example, I meditate daily.  But I’m called to do more because I know this life is impermanent.  I don’t want to die with regrets, having wasted unnecessary time on the transitory, material aspects of life.

Cutting Back to Allow for Stillness

As this insight dawned, thanks to tracking my time, my friend and colleague Jodi Chapman announced that she will enter a year of silence beginning January 1, 2015.  Jodi is in recovery from adrenal fatigue, but most importantly she’s drawn to stillness in order to reconnect with the voice of her soul.

“Radical,” you might think.  But perhaps debilitating illness requests a radical response if we can find the courage to obey.

Jodi’s decision provided the perfect affirmation and encouragement for me.

While I don’t feel the need to enter into complete silence at present, I’ll be cutting back my online activities by at least 50% and probably quite a bit more to make more space to connect with my innermost spirit.

That means:

  • Less participation in online forums
  • Less time on social media
  • Less commenting on other blogs
  • Less twiddling and diddling online
  • Less futzing with my blog

Because time tracking showed me that I waste the most time online.  I would like to share the message of Always Well Within – your true essence is peace, love, and wisdom – with as many people as possible.  So I envision using my online time more efficiently and more effectively.  I hope I will continue to touch new minds and hearts even though I do less in certain respects.  Please help me by sharing the posts that inspire you via social media.

Most importantly, I want to be here to share with you.  I deeply value our connection as invisible as it may seem.

I’ll continue to instruct my online meditation course, write a blog post for you once a week, and work in the orchard.  These activities feel closer to my life purpose.  And I’ll have more time for stillness too.

The Practical Benefits of Time Tracking

If you don’t know where your time goes or feel frazzled and fried, time tracking can help you in both profound and practical ways.  For example, on a practical level it can help you to:

  • Remember to balance giving to others and self-nourishment
  • Joyfully twiddle and diddle now and then so you don’t get a headache from too much concentration
  • Notice resistance, one of the best clues to discover where  you’re not being true to yourself
  • Find the determination you need to detach from overuse of social media or other digital devices
  • Face and overcome your biggest distractions
  • Let go of a dream when it’s no longer the best fit
  • See your actual capacity and how you constantly push beyond your reasonable limits

Time tracking helped me in all these ways.  But by far the single most important insight from tracking my time has been the urgent beckoning to make space for silence, stillness, and the world of the spirit.

Whatever your life purpose, if you’ve detoured, time tracking can help you fully embrace your most cherished aspirations once again.  And, if the situation isn’t that drastic, time tracking can simply help you to use your time more efficiently.  In either case, you’ll find more ease and satisfaction, which you so truly deserve.

I’m so glad you’re here!  Please help me touch others by sharing this post using the social media buttons below.  If you’re new, please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra

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26 Comments

  1. I am not sure I could be silent…I need to express my inner thoughts even when I withdraw for a while…but I am sure I waste time online. I will be doing the forms soon to see where exactly I doI waste time…

    • Hi Donna,

      I understand! We’re all different and need to find our own way.

      There are degrees of silence and not everyone chooses or wants complete silence. Jodi is still going to talk to her mother, husband, cats and doctor, but I imagine that will be for limited amounts of time.

      Good luck with your time tracking!

  2. simple. deep. true. much needed. i don’t even need to track the time to know where i spend a good portion of my free time. but that’s ok. i’m ok. i have huge portions of time in silence and solititude, and when i get offline, spirit comes in and hijacks me away. lovely. thank you.

  3. I honor and respect your decision. I *love* your list of practical benefits of time tracking! I agree with each one.

    For me, it’s not about online versus offline time. I practice presence so my intention is to make sure that my time and energy, in general, is vested in meaningful (to me) ways. And that I am appreciating each step, and connection/creative expression, as I experience them.

    When Jody first announced her decision, I was so happy to hear it. Yes, it might sound radical, but she feels it’s necessary and I find it inspiring when peers and friends listen to their inner knowing. When I felt the need to concentrate on understanding my patterns and shifting internal energy, I removed myself from everything (except care for my children) for almost 18 months – and I moved us onto a boat so that we could practice and learn natural cycles and feel the gifts of nature, together. I didn’t know how life-changing, in a ‘wonderful way’ that would be!

    I understand that you both are explaining your decisions as teaching tools and points of connection but I also feel it important to remember that we don’t ‘need’ to explain anything, we may simply honor what we hear/feel and live it.

    Lots of love to you!

    • Hi Joy,

      I so appreciate how the practice of presence is your core practice whether you are alone or with others, online or offline. This is powerful, indeed.

      I think it was so huge that you spent that 18 months removed from everything but your children. And now you’re on a different path, practicing presence whether you are alone or with others, online or offline.

      Presence is truly the way to see what’s right for us in every moment and every phase of our life because it does change.

      I’m always so inspired by how you engage so openly and directly with all that life brings. Thanks for sharing your experience because it helps to hear different perspective and different ways. Much love to you!

  4. Sandra – this really resonated with me and it brings up and puts a voice to so many of the things I am going through and exploring. This summer I went to Los Angeles, CA and stayed in Topanga Canyon for a month and a half. I freelance (User Experience website work) so I wanted to work on my east coast clients in the morning and then take the afternoon and evening to explore the area and do my artwork. At night I found myself sitting in silence or listening to music for hours and just being and it was revolutionary. Many things came up and helped inform my path and brought lots of new questions up. But the gift of that space, in silence was amazing. I recently stopped an interview process for a FT and risk-free job to hold on to the idea that I could continue with the freelance so I could eventually do more with my art and my book (none of which are selling) because I find it connected to what I need to do. I have been going back to the silence to help inform the path onwards. I am not sure where it is going and I really am on the edge but I have to follow this. I am stuck in between the need to get things out there and the need to be quiet so I can make them. In that conundrum is some solution, some level of service. So forgive the rambles but I wanted to say thank you and it helps confirm that I need to follow this intuition and try and find the faith and that I am not alone in this.

    • Dear Beth,

      What an extraordinary experience, Beth. It inspires me to hear how spending this quiet time was so revolutionary for you. It takes so much courage to turn away from a prospective job because it doesn’t ring true for you.

      I can imagine it feels scary to be on the edge like this, but it seems like you are receiving so much from this process of simply being present to this silence. I know you are not alone, that many creative souls are journeying along with you. My heart is with you and whatever unfolds may it be the perfect fit for you.

      Thank you for sharing so openly and deeply. Knowing that this post resonate so strongly for you, makes my writing feel meaningful and worthwhile. Thank you so much.

  5. Oh Sandra – I so could use your time tracker. Not that I don’t know where I spend my precious time…I can usually ‘feel’ when my time is being spent rather than being invested. And I’m not talking about busyiness or doingness…sometimes that’s a great investment. But so too is contemplating and immersing myself in spiritual growth.

    Getting a real hold on what I do and when I do it will help align my left and right brain a little better. The organizing side is not nearly as active as the creative…I could use a little help!

    Thanks for this and for sharing the essence of who you are. I love the being that is Sandra. ღ

    • Dear Elle,

      I really like what you’ve said about “spending” time vs. “investing” time. I think it’s wonderful that you can feel when you are off-track. Many of us aren’t used to listening to that inner voice!

      You sound very clear in your wish to balance the left and right side of your brains. I’m the opposite of you and would be happy to bring in more right side aspects! I’m hoping time tracking will be of help. But, if not, I have a feeling you will find the right tool for you.

      Thanks for your sweet words. I love and appreciate all the goodness you bring to the world.

  6. Hi Sandra,

    I have been pondering over your question: ‘Why do we stray…. and some questions come back to me, hammering at my consciousness: Do we have purpose? Just one purpose? Doesn’t it keep changing as we proceed with various phases of life? Is life so simple that we can compress it into purpose?
    We keep straying because we are surrounded by the same people, we find it difficult to detach, we often surrender before the circumstances, we don’t give priority to our purpose, we get carried away by the needs and desires of our loved ones…
    However I appreciate the decision of slowing down. It dawns on us sooner or later that we can take life easy, that there is more value in silence, that leisure must be given top priority at some stage of life.
    Thanks for sharing such exalted thoughts, they convey the real meaning of life.

    • Those are wonderful questions, Balroop. It takes courage to ask those kinds of questions and I think the answers will be very different for each one of us.

      As you suggest, there are so many reasons why we stray from our true purposes (or purposes or changing purpose :)). We can only know by looking into our self to see what’s true for us.

      Being busy may be fitting for certain periods of our life. However, when I see people burn out, even young people, I value quiet and slowing down all the more!

      I appreciate your heartfelt thoughts!

  7. Jean Sampson

    I do know where my time is spent and I realize that I need to go through and unsubscribe from many on-line things AGAIN!!! I do tend to collect interesting things (at the time) and then have to let them go. But, as I have said before, there is so much richness and love in my on-line relationships that I would never let some things go! I do find myself doing too much socializing at the art center before I get started painting some days and that is just a plain old form of procrastination! 🙂 I am going to try to catch myself doing it and then decide if I want to NOT do it. But awareness is the first step and maybe the most difficult!
    Congratulations of figuring out how to get your life to be more the life that you want to live, Sandra. Being present to ourselves and what we are doing is very important and it sounds like you are getting a handle on it!

    • Hi Jean,

      It is so tempting to “collect” information and activities that take up our time. I can see how a regular weeding process would be helpful for me too.

      I’m not letting go of my online life entirely either! I completely love all the goodness I find in my connections online as well as the inspiration that comes my way.

      I so agree, awareness is the first step! You seem clear about this tiny procrastination habit and I’m sure you’ll find your way to the right balance for you.

  8. Wow, Sandra! Need to read this post all over again and again…..

  9. Sandra, your time tracker is still on my desk, I started and immediately saw just how much time I was spending on Social Media, helping, sharing and commenting- that has to change 🙂 I love how you have shared what silence and stillness is to you and how you will embrace this. You blog post brought a great beach conversation yesterday as I too read about Jodi and found her declaration and a quite different take on silence, that I really understand. I remember doing a weekend vision quest many years ago where I spent 48 hours just with me, nature, peppermint teas and crayons pen and paper. very special. Something that I have put on my bucket list is to Walk the Camino. lots of opportunity for silence and discovery as I am discovering as I devour Walking Home by Sonia Choquette.
    thank you xxx

    • Hi Suzie,

      I appreciate your dilemma with social media because I have it too. Social media is a beautiful opportunity for connection so I don’t want to deride it in anyway. I know I spend too much time there though and want to see how I can stay connected but do less. It’s all an experiment so we’ll see where it goes.

      Jodi’s approach to silence is a little different than what I’m accustomed to as well. On strict retreats, in my tradition, you generally don’t speak to others at all and don’t spend time writing and sharing online or even sharing your experience on retreat. However, you’re sometimes allowed to speak for an hour a day on beginner retreats and the experience can still be powerful.

      I know that there’s a great power in speaking less so I appreciate that Jodi is finding her own form and doing what she can feels is best and most suitable for her even if it’s not complete silence. I’m sure it will still be both challenging and wonderful.

      Wow, that vision quest sounds great.

      I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to walk the Camino, but it holds a special place in my heart. It made a huge change for one of my friends who did.

      Let’s hold each other in our respective hearts as we strive to let go of some of our involvement in social media!

  10. Love this Sandra. I regularly take ‘time out’, especially at busy times. I switch off from the online world for a couple of days and keep away from screens. It’s a time to regenerate and gives my head space for clarity and creativity.
    We get so used to being available 24/7, but it’s not necessary. Believe me, most of it can wait 🙂

    • I love your sense of clarity and confidence, Carolyn! I’m glad you found your way to regenerate that doesn’t give you the least bit of angst.

  11. What beautiful insights you share here, Sandra! I’m so happy that you’ll be embracing silence and stillness in your own way, too. And that’s what’s so beautiful about it – there is not one right way to do it. Just following our hearts and seeing where we’re taken is all part of the journey. And I’m glad we’re on the journey together. Big hug and lots of love! <3

    • Thank you, Jodi! I’m so glad that we’ll be moving through this journey together. There are so many ways to be still and silent and you’re so right, we each need to look in our heart and find the right way for ourselves. I appreciate all the sweetness and clarity you bring to the world. Much love to you and may you have a beautiful journey.

  12. I do find I get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent and end up totally distracted and doing things that are not helpful. I love the idea of joyfully twiddling and diddling every now and then. Sometimes I wonder if the things I’ve categorized as twiddling and diddling are actually the things that are most important of all.

    • Maybe they are the most important of all, Sharon! They bring balance to our life and that makes for so much more happiness and joy. I get many smiles seeing you twiddle and diddle in my mind.

  13. oh Sandra! How I *love* this post! I can’t wait to use the tracker. I’ve been so frazzled and fried these days. I hope the tracker helps me see where the time suck is happening. Thanks for the insight.

    • You’re so welcome, Sue! You’re appreciation is lifting me right up. I hope the time tracker helps you because it’s no fun living a frazzled and fried life. May you find greater ease!

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