By Kathryn Weber
Happy New Yin Year!
It’s resolution time. How fun. But let’s forget about those for a moment. Getting to the end of the year and greeting a brand new calendar, a new birthday, another anniversary or just another year may seem overwhelming.
To some it’s a clean slate, a chance to start over fresh. And yet, to others, it’s a mix of the two.
Regardless of where your leanings fall, one thing is for sure: you can do more by doing less. In other words, more yin makes more yang. More yang does not create more yang – it creates less energy, more yin. It’s the old saw of less is more, and conversely, more is less.
And for many of us, we are continuing to live a more is less life.
This may sound overly Zen and esoteric, but I assure you it’s not. Let me explain.
Too often we’re so busy spinning our respective hamster wheels that, like clutter, we become immune to it and don’t notice how we’re constantly “on.” My husband, Tim, is a perfect example. I’m not tattling, either; he gave me permission to use him as my example.
His natural posture is with his head bent down scanning emails, Facebook comments, etc. All.the.time. Me? Not so much. I set distinct times to answer emails, just like I set distinct times for work, getting dressed, making dinner, or reading the paper in the morning. I also know where the off switch is on all my electronics – and the mute button.
If I was constantly tethered to my phone, having to monitor it minute by minute, I’d go out of my mind – and I’d never get anything done except in microbytes. Yet, I see it all the time.
Parents complain about their kids on video games, yet they sit at the restaurant table or cross a parking lot pinned down by a Blackberry or iPhone, heads bent in zombie-like electronic compliance.
Whole tables of diners in restaurants sit in a mute congregation, unsociably socializing.
Or, during the holidays or personal conversations, someone’s phone constantly dings and pings, the electronic equivalent of a yapping dog. Yet, it is we who are on the leash — an electronic tether that we willingly hook ourselves up to.
And it is we who must set up our electronic boundaries.
So when you wonder where your year went and why you didn’t get done all those things you thought you were or how your relationship has dimmed, well, you have to ask, are you so Pavlovianally conditioned to electronics, busy-ness (which is not productive), or always being on that your time is stolen from you, ping by text by byte, out from under your very nose?
But electronics aren’t our only energy thieves.
Sometimes we steal from ourselves, overdoing things, doubling our efforts or not giving ourselves over to the yin that we need to generate yang in our lives.
Here are some more ideas about how to introduce more yin into an increasingly yang world, and be ready for the year ahead.
Value the darkness. Today’s world is full of electronics that emit light, and at night, those tiny diodes can pierce the darkness like a lighted needle preventing you from sleeping well. More darkness (more yin), means more sleep, and more sleep means more (yang) energy the next day.
Set time limitations. Everyone has to set boundaries on their time and their energy. Do you give your energy away – always being on, available, texting, emailing, Facebooking, tweeting? Stop. Set up calling, emailing and social media times. Shut the pinging off on your phone or turn the pinging off at 5 o’clock.
Increase your focus. Too much energy is wasted and scattered. Studies show it takes up to 500% more energy to continually start working again when interrupted. Stop the interruptions and you’ll get more done. Facebooking while you’re working on a presentation, for example, weakens your concentration and lengthens the time spent on the work at hand.
Batch your efforts. Try to put similar activities together and do them together. For instance, rather than being on all the time to answer emails, answer them all at once and only check email once or twice a day. Doing a series of efforts means you get more done in less time. Or, if you don’t have time to cook, spend a Sunday afternoon making up several dishes that you can have ready all week long.
Watch frittering. Whether it’s your money or your time, too many fritter away their resources. One of the worst fritterers I know is Tim (again, he offered himself up as the example – thank you, honey!). As my mom would say, he’s like a flea on a griddle. Tim would sit down at night to watch TV, then get up to take a shower, then sit back down to watch TV with Steve and me, then get back up to turn off his computer that he didn’t turn off when he left the office, then sit down, and then get up to lock the doors or get a bowl of ice cream.
His up and down and up and down habit was distracting and bothersome – for all of us. He complained about being always on and I reminded him that he is in charge of the ‘on’ switch. He now joins us, having turned off his computer when he leaves his office, and stays put until time for bed.
Do you do something like this…doubling your efforts, or unable to sit down? What are you leaving undone that you could finish up or stop so you can enjoy a sustained amount of time resting and relaxing? Maybe the frittering of time is at work – tweeting, texting or emailing that you find it hard to get your work done. Look at where your time and energy are spent to see if you can get more of it.
By working on your awareness of your time and energies, you’ll find that you have more of both – and that it goes a long way toward creating more quality of life. Those are resolutions worth making.
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