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Organizing a Yogi: Discipline

I'll be the first to admit I have a problem with discipline.  Maybe you know what I mean.  When I know I need to work on an essay my hand is glued to the remote control and I'm inexplicably watching incredible feats of hair and make-up.  Or I have an hour to prepare for a yoga class I'm teaching and I'm gorging myself on page after page of The Hunger Games.  We all know the word for it: procrastination.

Sometimes it takes on truly mysterious forms like when I studiously start paying my bills instead of calling the dentist, or fold laundry instead of working on my taxes, or turn off my alarm and go back to sleep instead of getting up for my morning asana and meditation practice... ok, that last one isn't really so mysterious.  Sleep feels so good, so vital, so delicious.  And discipline... well I'm not really sure what it feels like.


The work does get done.  Oh it sure does.  Tasks especially get accomplished when there's a tight deadline (and not a minute sooner).  Yet the process of getting things done has been quite mysterious to me.  It's kind of embarrassing to admit for someone who worked as a Technical Project Manager for over six years.  When I had a web project and a team of designers, developers and testers I managed each phase with aplomb.  My projects ran smoothly because I planned ahead so I was able to handle demanding clients, last minute changes and production bugs with calm.

However when I consider the projects and tasks that make up my life I feel none of the assurance of that Project Manager self.  Instead I'm paralyzed and overwhelmed with stress by the sheer multitude of these "things I gotta do": this weekly column, bills to pay, household upkeep, getting a hair cut, other writing projects, yoga teaching gigs, dog food to buy, emails, activism, and then some semblance of a personal life.

A New Hope I

I started reading the oft-recommended book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen and just a few chapters in I have to admit I'm already feeling a sense of relief. 

It helps to recognize that I am not alone.  Apparently most of us these days are feeling this near-constant low level anxiety: overwhelmed and never getting it all done.  Perhaps it's a first world problem as in the past several decades with all our technological advances the line between work and personal life has blurred.  With the aid of our techno-gadgets we are always at work, checking and writing emails, scheduling meetings; and we are always within reach of our loved-ones should they need us.  This illusion of constant contact is a double-edged sword as our stress levels are rising and opportunities for true relaxation are scant.

A New Hope II

In the book there is a technique Allen delineates called simply Getting Things Done (GTD) to help put all our projects and tasks, personal and professional, into order. I haven't gleaned all the details yet but a main tenet is to capture externally all the "stuff", all the "things I gotta do" thus relieving the mind of the grueling task of having to remember it all.  As someone who's worked with mindfulness practice for years this makes sense to me.  In the next few weeks I will be putting GTD into practice and writing about it here.

Let's relax, take three mindful breaths, get organized, prioritize, and get some things done!



In the column Organizing a Yogi I describe the process of organizing my projects and letting go of procrastination in order to achieve stress-free productivity.

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Check out Margoshka.com for more posts, stories, poems and things.


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Keep it human!

My advice with the GTD system is that it can rule you, or you can use it to rule yourself. Experiment with the discipline, but like the lojong slogan says "remain natural".

Don't turn into a robot!


How's that thesis coming along?

I discovered that I have to get a label maker, 100 folders, and a place to file those folders... before I can REALLY get organized. Hehehe.

Thanks for the post

I was about to revise my PhD thesis when I found your post, it helped me procrastinate ... :-)

Dentistes Montréal


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