In case you're wondering why things have been a little wonky the past day or two, mercury went retrograde yesterday and will stay that way until November 10th.
Mercury retrograde is an astrological event that happens about three times a year and although it's a pain in many ways (communication mix ups, travel delays, electronic or mechanical breakdowns and not a great time to make big purchases or finalize important decisions) it's a fantastic time to clear clutter and deal with unfinished business. It's also a great time to plan and research.
We're all so busy, busy, busy, mercury retrograde is just telling us to slow down and reassess. This is a time to be internal, to listen and transform. I find it a great reminder to be patient, to stop grasping and pushing.
I'm laughing because I've had so many issues getting this latest post up I now know why all my astrologer friends send out information on mercury retrograde before mercury goes retrograde. Smart, smart. It's been a good reminder to be patient. ;)
So, in honour of mercury retrograde I want to re-introduce to you the single most helpful tool that I've found to clear clutter and unfinished business. The time container!
Last week after dinner, I wanted to snuggle up on the couch to watch some Netflix instead of cleaning the kitchen, but I also knew that waking up to a messy kitchen would be a drag. So when my sweetie suggested using a time container to clean up I jumped on the opportunity.
I set the timer for 15 minutes and when it went off, the kitchen was totally clean, dishes washed and dried, counters wiped down and there was even enough time left over to take the garbage out.
Wow! I had forgotten about this simple and powerful tool. The time container is so totally rad that even though I wrote about it in my very first blog post, I’m going to write about it again.
I used it in the coming days to complete a number of tasks that had been plaguing me.
The mouldering things in the fridge I had been meaning to get to for weeks (I know, gross), took me a total of 5 minutes to throw out.
The container cupboard that had been driving me crazy for months, 15 minutes to toss, clean and organize.
The messy dry goods cupboard, where some very stale croutons had been skulking since June and oatmeal from the bulk food store was waiting patiently in a plastic bag for a mason jar, took all of 10 minutes to deal with.
What amazes me about procrastination, is that the energy it takes to NOT do something is so much more than the time and energy it takes to actually do it.
Not doing things is totally exhausting.
One issue with procrastination is that we lump too many tasks together and then get into an all or nothing perfectionist mind set.
Procrastination and perfectionism are besties.
Looking at my kitchen from a perfectionist standpoint, I saw all of those little jobs and lumped them together along with all the other chores I had to do, until it became one big overwhelming mess.
As we all know, when it comes to a choice between all or nothing, nothing is most likely to win.
How do you combat nothing? By doing something very small.
You just have to accept that your perfectionist is never going to be happy. Even if you managed to do it ALL, your perfectionist would come up with a whole list of other things that you hadn’t accomplished, or see the flaws in what you did do.
“Who cares if you just cleaned every single inch of your house and got rid of all your clutter, you never did get that PhD in neuroscience, did you? Oh, and you missed a spot...”
Let’s face it, perfectionism is a total poopy head.
Fortunately the Time Container is the best way to shush your poopy procrastinating perfectionist.
Instructions for the Time Container
Step One - Choose a task and be realistic
What does this mean? It means, don’t let your poopy perfectionist choose the task. Instead, choose something small, really small. For example you’re not going to clean out your whole dresser in 5-15 minutes, but you could tackle the sock drawer. Be specific! Cleaning is not a specific task, vacuuming the living room is.
Step Two - Set a timer for 5 - 15 minutes
Your poopy perfectionist is trying to convince you at this very moment that there’s absolutely nothing you can complete in 5-15 minutes, but that’s a lie. If you really focus your energy and attention there’s a lot you can get done in 5-15 minutes. Try it! Be clear and relentlessly come back to your task during the time container. If you don't like the idea of a timer, use three songs on your favorite playlist.
Step Three - DO IT!!!!
This is self explanatory. Once the timer is set and running, tackle your task fervently. Always coming back to it if you get distracted. If you’re doing the dishes and get distracted, come back to the dishes, come back to the dishes, come back to the dishes.
Step Four - When the timer goes off… STOP!
Why do you stop? Once you start, your poopy perfectionist might take over and move into ALL mode. Next thing you know it's 4am, you're crying over old love letters or cleaning the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush. You stop to honour your boundaries. You stop so the next time you try a time container the part of you that's resistant knows that 15 minutes means 15 minutes, not four hours. Now, if at the end of the time container you really want to continue, that’s OK, just be sure that you check in with yourself first and then set another time container. You don’t want the experience to go from positive to punishing.
Step Five - CELEBRATE!!!!!!!
I took a workshop once where we were asked to make a list of all the events in our lives that we hadn’t celebrated. I was shocked to find some really big events on my list like graduating from high school and university. As far as the poopy perfectionist is concerned nothing is important enough to celebrate.
Why celebrate? You celebrate to practice acknowleding the little things so that it’s easier to acknowledge the big things. The celebration could be as simple as putting on a song you really love, making a cup of tea or calling a friend. Most of the time I just leave the room and then come back in for the big reveal or open the cupboard again and again to admire my work.
YAY! The time container rocks.
- Choose a realistic task
- Set a timer for 5-15 minutes
- Do it!
There you have it, the tool that will change your freakin’ life!
It’s your turn! Right now, take five minutes to do a little task that you’ve been putting off forever. Seriously, right now, you can do it! It doesn't have to be clutter, it can be anything.
See you in 5...
Yay!!! You did it! I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below. Let me know what you did and how it was to use the time container. I’d also love to hear if you have any tools that help you deal with your poopy perfectionist procrastinator.
Please share this with your friend who needs a little help cleaning her fridge.
p.s. I have a new office space in the Annex at Jaya Integrative Health Centre! Are you feeling stuck? I can help, and have room for 4 new clients. Just email to book your session.
p.p.s. Thank you for all the supportive words for my meditation workshop earlier this month. It was absolutely beautiful.
p.p.p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on it! Just pop on over here to get on! All the cool kids are doing it!