Time management for frustrated people

Let’s focus on managing time well. In other words, we can focus on patterns of action and the different results produced by different actions.

Of course, there are others things that we could do with our time besides focus on how to manage time well. Maybe right this moment you are late for something urgent or having a life or death health crisis or an economic emergency like your kitchen is just starting to catch on fire. But I will assume that none of those things are taking priority over reading this… or else you would not be reading this right now.

Next, before we get in the details of to managing time, we might pause a moment just to relax. Many times, people operate with so much habitual stress that if they simply slow down for a few minutes, they may notice their body relaxing. They say things like “wow, I did not even know that my shoulders were tense.”

A similar thing can happen if people get a massage. They may say “wow, I did not even know that I was so tender right there.”

Why the sudden increase of awareness? Because their was so little focus on the real condition of their body.

Imagine someone who is watching a scary movie. Would it be predictable that at some point they would hold their breath? The music starts to signal “something bad is about to happen,” and then it does!

If you watched the audience in a movie theatre during an action movie, you could see the expressions on their face change. You could see men squirming in their seats when some image on the screen shows another man getting kicking in a particular place.

Or in a movie that is a romantic comedy, you could hear it when suddenly a bunch of people in the audience do something very loud with their breathing called “laugh.” At other times, you might see drops of water dripping down their face (whether from crying or sweating).

So people may invest a fair amount of time in to triggering certain emotions, like by their choices of books or music or other entertainment (even sporting events). Maybe someone who is holding chronic physical tension relating to fear values the effect of watching a horror movie. They feel the vitality of adrenalin or maybe they value repeatedly getting a safe exposure to fear that allows them to gradually relax old chronic tensions.

They also get an excuse to have a certain experience. Maybe they even avoid the distress of facing certain other emotional states that are just bubbling below the surface. Maybe they cope by retreating in to a “fantasy world” of very interesting baseball statistics or golf scores.

So one possible issue relating to time management is the issue of habits of avoidance. For someone to actually explore time management, that may require actually identifying their patterns of how they use time. If avoidance of a particular emotion or subject is a primary habit (coping mechanism) that someone has developed, then someone very motivated to improve their time management (and their results) would be interested in that subject.

Others may say “I can’t read something longer than a paragraph without losing interest,” but then go read an article for 10 minutes. Is it possible that certain subjects are too frightening for some people to read about? Is it possible that they prefer a live interaction… maybe even with several people present to enhance the sense of personal security?

To manage time well, it could be useful to recognize the things that are most stressful for us and either stop doing them or do them much better (perhaps bringing in the assistance of people who are willing and able to help). The experience of frustration is generally a sign that one’s immediate ability to focus on a situation and quickly produce a solution is not sufficient.

There may be a general lack of ability, but have you ever noticed that sometimes when you set aside a particular task and then relax a bit, if you come back to the same task later, you may be able to quickly complete it. You notice things that you did not notice before.

Why is that? Because you are better able to focus. You may be less distracted. You may be less exhausted (mentally, physically, etc…). “Suddenly,” your ability to complete the task is sufficient.

What happened? It’s not that your general ability dramatically improved an hour later. It’s that after an hour of doing something else (or nothing at all), you were better able to use your abilities.

So, sometimes a key factor in time management is planning breaks. Sometimes people also benefit from taking routine measurements (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, etc). These measurements inform their planning.

This presentation is laying a foundation for common issues that influence people’s focus and performance. One issue is being distracted by other people- even just thoughts about other people. Let’s briefly consider that “being distracted by thoughts about other people” could actually be a useful thing that we might want to invest some concentrated time in to doing intentionally.

What bothers you most about other people? The reason that this question can be so interesting is that what bothers you about other people in general may be very revealing about you.

I’ll take the issue of someone who has a lack of confidence but a fear of social consequences about that being discovered. Note that just having a lack of confidence is not issue by itself. Someone without confidence simply asks for help. They display their lack of confidence. They request help. It’s very simple.

However, what about someone who takes time to criticize other people’s lack of confidence (to complain)? Do you ever complain that other people complain the wrong amount (perhaps “too much” for your preference)?

Someone with shame about their lack of confidence may seek out reasons to complain. They may seek out reasons to condemn others in a condescending way.

Because they lack competence and do not want anyone to notice that, they point to other people’s lack of competence. Further,
because they lack confidence and do not want anyone to notice that, they point to other people’s lack of confidence.

“That guy is so cocky!”

“That lady is so selfish!”

“They seem to think that they are so smart because they have a degree and a license, but I bet they do not even know a single cure for the thing that they keep calling incurable!”

It is one thing to notice other people’s pattern of behavior and how they speak. It is a distinct thing to present contempt and disrespect.

Yes, there are thousands of specialists whose training is only as good as what was offered in some educational program. We could criticize people for only knowing what was taught in a certain program, but what is the point?

As a coping mechanism, we may complain to create repulsion. We may want to test how others respond to a display of repulsion. We may want to test someone else’s confidence.

For instance, if I am going to hire a health specialist, I may want to know if they are confident in their competence. I may ask them where they trained. I may ask them what they think of some research from 100 years ago or 50 years ago.

I’m not condemning them. I’m not threatening to report them for incompetence. I am just testing how much confidence to put in them.

However, if they did perceive me as a threat, that would be notable. They might say: “I don’t need to answer your questions because I am an expert.” That is even an understandable comment.

But what if I respond: “how many people have you personally cured of the thing that you insist is incurable?” What if I ask: “how much time have you personally invested in reviewing the original studies of authors who claim to have a success rate that is far above average? How committed are you to promoting the health of people like me? Are you open to competing in a free market with other providers or do you lobby for subsidies and protections for members of your professional club?”

There are a few ways that someone could respond to such questions. They could erupt in to terror and then spew rage in an attempt to flee from the distress. They could call the security team to strap down the person complaining and proceed with the operation anyway. Or, they could respectfully respond.

I know that when I mentioned to someone repeatedly that there were excellent success rates for certain medical conditions, their response was “yes, but some people are not open to that.” That is a reasonable response.
What I did not think at the time was “how much do you care about their results? If you are even taking the time to notify me of their new diagnosis, why? Are you gloating in their confusion and distress? Are you rigidly clinging to your own pattern of rejecting excellence for familiar frustrations?”

Maybe some people are investing in producing frustration. Maybe that is an emotion that they have so deeply repressed that they value exposures to frustration which might finally spark learning. Maybe they are desperately committed to their own frustration so that they can mature in a particular way.

Frustration is NOT a signal for lack of ability. Someone who just lacks ability simply recognizes that within a few attempts and does not keep trying what is obviously not working.

The repeated use of a method that is not working could be considered self-sabotage. It could be considered a “cry for help.”

“I got so frustrated that I just finally wanted to tell someone.” Finally? Why finally? Why not tell someone much sooner (as in report the intent to produce a result and lack of confidence in being able to produce it)? Why all of the drama of “being sincere?”

Imagine that at some time in someone’s life, they were told “oh come on you were not even really trying! Just keep working on it and you will get it eventually.” How could that effect them? What patterns of behavior would we expect in regard to asking for help?

What if someone was publicly ridiculed for being unable to complete a task? What if the old pattern of humiliation is built in to their body as a chronic physical tension, but then another layer of tension has been added to hide the humiliation?

“No, I don’t care about ____. Sure, I used to care, but then I was publicly ridiculed for caring, so now I would not admit that I cared even if I did. I mean… not that I do of course, but… anyway… whatever… it doesn’t matter.”

We could call that cynicism. We could call that “a broken spirit.” By the way, the phrase “broken spirit” is related to schizophrenia: broken inspiration, broken respiration, broken breathing.

Are most people holding their breath all of the time? Do they only breath from the chest because their lower rib cage is in a state of chronic tension like someone who is currently watching a horror movie? Do they relate to their life like a nightmare? Do they frequently make extreme interpretations about how they are always a victim?

Maybe someone is being victimized today. But many people were victims in the past and yet still live from that “narrative.” Why? Is that another persona that they can display socially to attract a certain kind of response from others?

“You should focus on someone else who deserves your help more. You should focus on someone else who is more open and more responsive.”

Maybe they are “really” saying that they do not perceive sufficient competence (ability) or commitment (willingness) in another person. That is also reasonable. Maybe they are testing.
Maybe they are displaying that old habitual coping mechanism of helpless victim.

“I am just too helpless. I am possessed by a demon who only uses cynical patterns of language. Plus, I have not done anything to deserve your help, so I feel guilty which I would rather avoid because guilt implies that in the future I could choose better than I did in the past which sounds a lot like learning and I learned once to never ever learn anything ever. Also, I did something bad once and so I deserve to punish myself so that other people will know that I am tamed and not a threat to them that they might want to punish.”

Acting in ways that would avoid expected punishments is reasonable. However, updated expectations about punishments is also reasonable.

To earn social rewards, learning may be involved. Risk may be involved (the possibility of disappointment, failure, rejection, etc…). Asking for help may even be involved, and it is common knowledge among all cocky, arrogant people who pretend to have a lot more confidence than they actually have… that it can be humiliating to ask for help.

Or, one can attempt to explore the experience of humiliation by targeting it and locking on to it as a destination. One can create the experience of helplessness, isolation, frustration, or anything else that one puts a lot of time and energy in to producing.

Now, as for a conversation about time management, that implies a certain amount of self-respect and respect for whoever else is in the conversation. Someone could even come right out and say this: “Maybe it’s not a good use of your time for you to talk to me about time management right now.”

Why are you interested in improving how you manage your time? What results are so attractive to you that you would value exploring time management? What results are so repulsive to you that you would value exploring time management?

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