[A person who contacted me wrote] ‘Now is the only time I’ve got’. I thought it clever as it is so true. Imagine if you knew exactly when you are going to die, and imagine if that day was, let’s say, two thousand days away — would you spend more time in the office, or would you spend more time with your kids? Would you allocate more time to fight with your mother-in-law, or would you walk away and send her on her way wishing her well?
Some years ago I wrote out a process I called “minimal movement”. It is a time management discipline where you brutally eliminate all actions that serve no purpose, and you allocate the least possible energy and effort to the tick-tock things you have to do. For example, let’s say doing the weekly groceries takes you two hours by the time you get to the store, buy the stuff and schlep it all back home. Maybe you can order on the Internet and have them deliver. Never run when you can walk, and never walk if you can hire someone else to do the job for you. Box clever, if you buy one hundred stamps at a time you may only have to go to the post office once or twice a year.
Essentially, minimal movement is analysing what is very important to you, slightly important and not important at all, thus focusing on what serves you best. In business it is usual that eighty percent of your money comes from twenty percent of your clients. So you butter up the good ones and you offer politeness and pre-printed information to the less profitable ones, but you don’t waste a lot of personal time on them unless they suddenly come good.
There are people in your life that are warm and valuable and important to you — a few say — and then there are loads of marginal dead-beats that are emotionally disturbing, expensive and a complete waste of time. Minimal movement requires that you politely eliminate them. A few good ones are way better than a hundred dubious ones. The less people you are emotionally involved with the less obligations on your time. Sooner or later everyone wants something. I have the philosophy of never agreeing to attend anything: wedding, funerals, functions etc. Then sometimes, very rarely, I capitulate. For decades people thought me odd as I don’t do Christmas — I’m not a Christian, I don’t eat turkey and I feel the materialism of Christmas disturbing so I refuse to attend. I don’t mind going to the races on Boxing Day, I enjoy that so it is allocated an okay in the minimal movement file.
The shaman in Ecuador is a very kind man but he has absolutely no ability to say “No” to anyone. He travels on a bus for twenty-two hours to go to Bogota to do Aya’ ceremonies for people who don’t pay him very much that he says never change one jot. Then he takes the bus home. The trip takes him five days in total. I held his hand and took him to a mirror and had him practice saying “no”. We laughed a lot as he couldn’t even do it in the mirror. The trick to saying “no” when you feel awkward about something is to start by telling the recipient of your decision how uncomfortable you are saying what it is you are just about to say. You tell them how fond you are of them and that it is so uncomfortable for you to have to decline their kind invitation but you are not coming. Don’t lie as an excuse, just be brave and tell them you do not want to attend – period, full stop. Try it in the bathroom mirror first if needs be.
Once you don’t have to pander to your Mr. Nice Guy illusion then many obligations fall away and you can concentrate on processing your dark instead and actually become nice. People pleasing is not allowed in minimal movement as people pleasing usually has an agenda that either feeds your dark shadow (you covertly want something), or your white shadow (you seek to create an impression). You need to act coherently and fairly explaining yourself well to people, and not be arbitrary or crass, and of course you hope they are pleased with your actions, but you didn’t come to the earth plane to keep people happy. That was not on your list of prior instructions, and you should never become the custodian of another’s happiness.
This is especially true in relationships where one partner might use anger or threat to force the other into becoming his or her slave. So the slave trots about endlessly trying to please the aggressor under the threat of emotional retribution. You don’t need that…airport! Remember, love is like the #49 bus that winds down Kings Road, Chelsea and over Battersea Bridge, there will always be another along in a minute! Failing that “marry yourself” and become strong.
So you make a list of what is important and what is not, and you evaluate each thing carefully, deciding what it offers and what defined benefit or pleasure you derive from each action, and you agree to make everything around you simple and Zen, so you don’t waste time looking for things and you are not surrounded by confusion and clutter. And if you can afford it, put all your domestic bills in the automatic payment system at the bank. That way you never have to mess with it, and you design life with you in the centre. Like a general at a headquarters, you make everyone come to you whenever possible and you stand in the centre in minimal-movement-mode as much of the time as you can.
If you have a job, your time is not entirely your own but you can still put minimal movement into what work you do and get more done with less effort and time. If you rise one hour earlier and you sleep one hour less that’s seven hundred and thirty hours extra each year, which is the equivalent of thirty days a year or one extra month – amazing. You can have thirteen months in every year by just altering how long you sleep and when you rise.
Now is certainly the only time you have got, an extra thirty days of ‘now’ is a valuable asset.
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