Category Archives for Practice of The Work

How I Like to Slowly Begin a New Habit

raindrops on a lake

A gentle rain that begins slowly often lasts longer.

I Like to Begin a New Habit Slowly

At this time of year, it’s natural to become enthusiastic about starting new things. With a whole new year ahead, the mind gets excited about what it could do. But unfortunately, most of us bite off more than we can chew and end up dropping new plans within a few weeks.

Here’s how I like to begin new things (at any time of year).

Phase 1: Contemplating the Idea

Before I jump in with a new routine, I like to sit with the idea I’m considering for a while. I may take several weeks, or months, or even years considering adding something to my routine.

The reason I like to take my time is that my time is limited. That’s just reality.

There are only so many hours in a day and, when I do too much, I end up feeling stressed instead of excited. So, as I consider whether to add something to my routine, I’m considering it along with my other priorities.

Is it a higher priority than something I’m already doing?
How much time will it take?
Is there a niche in my day that would work for this?

As I sit in these questions, I consider all the options, and mentally experiment with it. Over time, it becomes clear what the priorities are and whether it is doable or not.

Some great ideas wait a long time before I add them to my routine. But I’d rather wait than overburden myself. And some great ideas get left behind. As I get in touch with my true priorities, these things sort themselves out.

Phase 2: Getting on the To Do List

Once I’ve decided that this new practice is something I really want to do, and that I really can fit it into my routine without overburdening myself, I start adding it to my to do list every day.

I have a flexible to do list. Every day of the week has a template of basic things I want to do that day. Each morning, I copy my template for the day to my active to do list and I prioritize it. I also add any special or unexpected jobs for that day. The most important things go to the top of the list, and less important things stay at the bottom.

I know that I will probably not get everything done on my to do list every day, and I’ve become very comfortable with that. Regardless of whether I finish everything that day, at the end of the day I cross out any of the recurring items at the bottom of the list that I never got to by the end of the day. Even though I didn’t do them, I am reminded that they are something I’m working towards doing.

Phase 3: Checking in for Just a Minute Daily

As I start seeing my new routine showing up on my to do list every day, I start looking for ways to actually do it. The first way, is simply to open up the project for a minute. I may do very little in that time, but at least I opened it up, even for just one minute. And I can check it off for the day.

I find, as I keep opening it every day, I want to spend a little more time doing it. So it starts to catch, and soon I’m spending 5 or 10 minutes, or more, every day on it. It’s amazing how much I can do with just 10 min a day.

Meanwhile, I’m still juggling my to do list and working through items in order of priority. In fact, after every item that I complete on my to do list, I revisit my list and rearrange things as priorities continue to shift during the day.

Phase 4: Booking Time in my Calendar

Time in my calendar is reserved for my highest priorities that I’m committed to giving regular time to. If I notice that I’m opening and working on one of my new practices every day consistently and it really has become a high priority for me, then I block out some time in my calendar for it. My very highest priorities tend to go at the beginning of the day.

This feels very nice to me. I can now count on time for this practice each day. And all of the other items on my to do list will have to fit around it.

Of course, if my priorities change again, I can always remove it from my calendar time and put it back on my regular to do list. The key for me, is continuing to listen to my ever-changing priorities. As they change, I adjust with them.

Guilt-Free Practice

I love this way of doing things for many reasons:

1. I am never pushing myself to do something.
2. I respect my priorities as they continue to change.
3. I remain realistic as I experiment with new practices.
4. It is not stressful.

My way may not be your way. This is just how my mind works, and I share it only for you to see it as an option. Your mind will find its own best way. if you have an idea you want to share with me, send me an email.

Here’s wishing you a happy 2019!
Todd

“The Work wakes us up to reality. When we take it on as a practice, it leaves us as flawless, innocent, a figment of pure imagination. Practicing inquiry takes us to the Buddha-mind, where everything, without exception, is realized as good. It leads to total freedom. Why would you want to experience a problem and pretend it isn’t there—to skip over it and find just some tiny place inside you that’s free? Don’t you want to find freedom with every breath? Nothing exists but the concept in the moment. Let’s meet that now with understanding.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

Slow and Steady Wins the Race but Fast and Furious Saves the Day

waterfall

The same waterfall has both fast and slow streams.

I’m a Big Lover of Slow-Cook Inquiry

For me, slow is fast. I love to go deep and to marinate in each question and turnaround of The Work. I typically take a couple of weeks to work through a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet questioning every statement that I wrote.

And the reason for this is that when I slow down, I often see much more than I do when I’m zooming through my work.

The Work is meditation, and meditation requires slowing down.

But That’s Not Absolutely True Either

I was reminded of this the other day by someone in my online Inquiry Circle group. She got triggered at work strongly enough that she needed to do The Work on the situation right away. But she didn’t have time to do a slow, meditative approach.

Instead, she wrote down her stressful thoughts quickly and worked them quickly. And she was able to get back to work without the emotional baggage in a very short time.

I Remember Doing This Some Years Ago

It’s been a while for me because I’ve mainly been practicing the slow approach.

I remember I was meeting with a client who had stressed me the day before. I knew I was not feeling very open minded towards her and I needed to do The Work before we met.

But I only had five minutes. I wrote a rapid Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet in about three minutes and then simply turned around each statement that I wrote in the remaining two minutes. There was no time even for the four questions, or turnaround examples. But as I turned everything around, I found where I was off, and I found several powerful living turnarounds I could try out during our session.

This Was An Emergency Approach

But because my mind is used to doing The Work, and am comfortable with the process, I felt my story shifting immediately. My heart opened towards my client in a matter of a few minutes, and I felt connected to her throughout our session together.

In fact, that was a turning point in my relationship with that client. She quickly became one of my favorite people to work with.

I experienced the power of inquiry—even when doing what I called “the fastest worksheet in the world.” And I never did go back to working that worksheet thoroughly. It was done.

This Does Not Diminish the Value of Slow-Cook Inquiry

In fact, the effectiveness of my fast approach may have come from my generally more meditative practice of The Work. But I love seeing the value of both ways here.

The moment I think there is only one way to do it, I’ve limited myself. It only takes a second to see things differently. So why not intersperse some fast worksheets along with all the slow, meditative ones?

Have a great week,
Todd

“Again and again, I have seen The Work quickly and radically transform the way people think about their problems. And as the thinking changes, the problems disappear.” Loving What Is

Saying Yes to The Work Means Saying No to Other Things

early morning sun in the apple orchard

When I was a nature photographer, getting up early was a priority.

But Just Because I Wanted to Do It Didn’t Mean I Did It

Saying yes to early morning photography was one thing, but saying no to all the other things that competed for that time slot was another.

Getting up early in the morning to go out and photograph meant not doing other things. I had to be really clear about this before it became a habit.

First of all, getting outdoors before sunrise meant saying no to sleeping later. I value my sleep, so that was a big consideration. It also meant saying no to staying up later in the evening. But these were things I was willing to do because my yes to photography was strong.

Getting up early even meant doing less meditation, or sometimes none. Meditation has always been a big priority for me. So saying no to it was huge for me. But it was honest. My desire to photograph was bigger, and I didn’t photograph every day so I could compromise.

As You Can See, a True Yes Comes with Lots of No’s

Even a little yes, comes with lots of no’s. So even if you’re just a little interested in doing The Work of Byron Katie as an ongoing practice, the question is, “What lower priority items am I willing to stop doing?

It’s all about priorities. Maybe The Work is not a priority at all for you. Then The Work gets the no. No problem. But if you have a yes to The Work without a no to the other things that compete for your time, The Work will not happen as an ongoing practice.

Sure, you may do it from time to time when the pain gets strong enough that doing The Work becomes a high priority again. But an ongoing practice requires some solid no’s.

No’s Are Not Negative

No’s to all the lesser priorities does not mean I don’t want to do them. It just means that I want to do The Work more than I want to do them. By saying no to my lesser priorities, I am creating focus on what I want to do.

A telephoto lens is powerful because it says no to almost all of the 360 degrees.

No is a very powerful, positive force. A yes without a no is just a wish. A yes with a no is the beginning of taking action.

So Take Some Time to Consider

Do you want to make The Work a steady practice? How high on your priority list is it? How often do you want to do it? When could you do it? And most importantly, what would you need to stop doing in order to do The Work regularly at that time?

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“And if The Work becomes your daily practice, you’ll find that there’s no longer any war in your life. When the war ends in you, it ends in your family. You’re the one who can end it.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

The Power of Slow and Steady

rounded rocks

The ongoing action of the waves over time has rounded the edges of these stones.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I was cleaning the toilet today, as we do pretty much every day. And I realized that the calcium buildup that had been so bad last summer was gone.

Ironically, I hadn’t done much of anything. I didn’t make removing the calcium scale into a big project last summer. I didn’t try to chip it away. I didn’t use chemicals. All I had been doing for the past six months was just cleaning the toilet every every day with a porcelain-safe scrub sponge.

At the very beginning, I had tried scrubbing a little harder with the sponge, but it didn’t make much difference. So I soon forgot about getting rid of the scale and just cleaned every day because that’s what we do.

Then, without any major fight, the scale is gone. In fact, I think the scale was gone for a while before I noticed.

That’s How The Work Works for Me

Sure, I notice plenty of “calcium buildup” in my thinking that I would like to get rid of. But thinking about it as a big project makes me more stressed. It actually creates more “buildup” in my mind.

So, instead of making a project out of cleaning my thinking, I don’t worry about it. I can live with a little scale in my thinking, just like I can live with a little scale in my toilet. This takes the pressure off. I’m no longer doing The Work to fix myself.

As a result, The Work is not stressful for me. And when the The Work is not stressful, there’s no resistance in me to doing it.

I just do The Work because that’s what I like to do. I like cleaning my mind every day—just a little bit. I’m not trying to make everything perfect in there. That’s probably not possible anyway. I’m just questioning my thoughts a little here and there because it feels good to do so.

But Over Time a Little Questioning Goes a Long Way

Every once in a while I realize that something that was a big issue for me is no longer an issue. I don’t even know when it fell away. I don’t know which worksheet, or which one-liner, that I questioned was the one that made the difference.

I’m not even thinking about it. It’s like doing The Work without caring. When I do The Work that way, I hardly notice that my thinking is getting clearer. There’s no big celebration. It’s just a growing feeling of being on the right track.

And that Reinforces my Desire to Keep up the Steady Pace

I’m not looking for miracles when I do The Work.

Slow, steady growth of clarity is enough for me.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“You can’t force this process; you can only inquire and find out what’s true.” Byron Katie, I Need Your Love Is That True?

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You Don’t Have to Wait until you’re Angry or Disappointed to Do The Work

beach waterfall

You could be in paradise and still do The Work.

You Might Think The Work Is About Being Happy

But it’s not.

It’s about being peaceful.

And even that is not true.

If anything, The Work is about not being anything.

It’s about being free instead.

How Much Freedom Do You Want?

Some people use The Work just to take the edge off of the pain. And they stop as soon as the pain decreases. With this approach, The Work is like an aspirin that sits in the medicine cabinet and is only brought out when there is a headache.

Others use The Work as an ongoing meditation. A way to step closer to themselves. With this approach, pain is often still the starting point for inquiry, but they keep going even after the pain has subsided because they are interested in deeper balance.

This is like getting some sleep to cure a headache, but then continuing to get extra sleep going forward to prevent further headaches.

This Is Why I Like the Slow, Steady Approach

I’m not looking for quick fixes when I do The Work. I prefer the slow approach of questioning all of the thoughts that originally caused of my suffering. For me, it doesn’t matter if the pain goes away after working Line 1 of a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. I could quit at that point. I’m no longer in pain. But I don’t.

I tend to work almost all of the statements on my worksheet, even if they don’t stress me anymore. The reason is that the seeds of pain are still lying there in the other thoughts I wrote down.

Even if the thoughts I wrote are no longer active for me, they are still there, sitting unquestioned, waiting for the next opportunity to sprout. When I question them, it makes it that much harder for me to fall for them again.

I Actually Make the Most Progress After The Pain Has Lifted

Instead of stopping a worksheet once the pain has subsided, that’s exactly when I start setting my teeth into the worksheet. Now, there is no resistance as I do my work. And there is no distracting motive to “feel better.” Now, I’m just doing The Work for the sake of truth.

This is the sweetest, most unbiased place for me to do The Work. And I would miss it if I stopped working my worksheet once the pain had stopped.

The Same Is True for New Worksheets

The more I do The Work, the less crises there seem to be in my life. I tend to have a more even keel as I believe my thoughts less. That means that extreme suffering is less and less the motive for doing The Work. And I don’t have to wait for it to start.

Instead, I tend to write a new worksheet, or write a new one-liner to question, just because I’m in the habit of doing The Work. This means that my worksheets are sometimes very minor. Ironically, when I work these kind of worksheets, I tend to have even more insights than I do with the painful worksheets. They are such low pressure worksheets that my mind is much freer to explore as I work.

Sometimes I Work Situations that Are Not Painful at All

Instead of pain, I may notice just some attachment to something that I don’t want to lose. It’s not pain, but it’s the slightest rub of discomfort that prompts me to do The Work.

I don’t need to wait until I lose it, I can set myself free of that attachment even while I still have it. It’s just a matter of questioning what I think I want.

Have a great week,
Todd

“When you attach to any identity, you suffer. Only the unidentified mind is free.” Byron Katie, A Mind at Home with Itself

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Are You Being too Thorough in Your Work?

pebbles

I don’t need to pick up every stone to have a full experience of them.

Here’s a Trap I’ve Been Caught In

I tend to be a very thorough person. I usually think of it as a good thing. But sometimes my thoroughness is a hindrance, not a help.

Here’s what it looks like when doing The Work.

Being too Thorough in Identifying Stressful Thoughts to Work

This happens when I spend too much time trying to find “the one” stressful thought underpinning them all. I can end up excavating forever, because there’s always another one just out of reach.

The balance in this case is for me to remember that any stressful thought can be a window into myself. There is no need to find the perfect thought to work. It’s much more valuable to pick any one in the vicinity and start going through the questions of The Work.

The Same Thing Can Happen Writing a Worksheet

Sometimes, I become so thorough in writing a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet that I have a mile of stressful thoughts lined up to work, and end up losing heart before I even begin to work them.

The solution to this for me is either to be satisfied with writing a little less on my worksheets, or to be satisfied with not working all of the statements that I write on my worksheet. Either way, I end up less intimidated by my “Work load,” and am more likely to complete my work.

Thoroughness Can even Show up when Doing The Work

I can get lost in any of the four questions to the extent that I never reach the turnarounds. This tends to happen most often in question 3 because there are several sub-questions there.

The temptation is to answer all of the sub-questions every time. Or to go into an overly analytic description of how I react in every detail. When I do this, I often lose the clear comparison of my answers in question 3 with my answers in question 4. And I can run out of time for the turnarounds.

This Is Fine as Long as I Pick up where I Left off Next Time

But if my work consists of mainly answering question 3, then it’s not the full balance of doing The Work.

The Work is identifying stressful thoughts, questioning them with all four questions, and then applying the turnarounds and finding examples for the turnarounds.

I Can Even Be too Thorough in the Turnarounds

This can look like straining to try to find three examples, instead giving it some time, looking for what I can find, and moving on if I don’t find more examples.

It’s all a balance. Too little thoroughness and I miss The Work. But too much thoroughness and I can also miss The Work.

Have a great week,
Todd

“Just notice when things are out of balance. You don’t have to figure it out. There’s a built-in signal that will always let you know: it’s called stress.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

Perfect Habits Are Sometimes Less Stable Than Imperfect Ones

aspen trees

So you got everything lined up perfectly? Now what?

What’s the Most Stable Practice Routine?

Whether you’re practicing a sport, learning a language, building a business, refining an art, or doing The Work, routine can be a wonderful friend.

What all these things have in common is that they are long-term processes. And when dealing with long-term processes, a steady approach is helpful.

With any of these processes, if you go too slow, momentum never gets gained. And if you go too fast, you can end up burning out, or quitting early.

Somewhere in the Middle Is a Sweet Spot

Most people who start doing The Work are on the “too slow” side. They are still just figuring out how to do The Work, they may have doubts about it, and they usually don’t have a routine established.

So for most people, they hear a little about The Work, maybe read one of Katie’s books, maybe watch a few videos, or read this newsletter, but no habit of The Work gets built. And soon their interest peters out, or they put it on a shelf for later.

But the other extreme is people who go all out, hitting sprint speed with The Work, but can’t maintain the pace long term. The funny thing is they end up in the same place as those who never get started.

So What Is a Balanced Approach?

It is different for each person. Because the balance is a balance between internal interest and external situations. And that’s different for everyone.

If you have a great internal interest, you can naturally maintain more practice of The Work. But even if you have great interest, if you don’t structure some routine for doing The Work, it can easily fall by the wayside.

So the first part of finding that balance is to gauge your interest. This includes educating yourself on how to do The Work, how to find turnarounds, how to answer the questions as meditation. And it includes getting honest about what your priorities really are.

Once you’re clear on that, it’s a matter of finding what’s practical in your life. Can you find a time on a regular basis to do The Work? Maybe it’s 15-30 minutes in writing every morning before work. Or maybe it’s a phone session once a week. It’s up to you to find a routine that matches your interest level.

But Even if You Find a Good Routine, The Balancing Act is Not Over

In Inquiry Circle, we do The Work every day, five days a week. It’s a routine that works for most of us. And I recently had a good idea for supporting us all to show up every day. I proposed creating a “day streak” report for each person every day.

You see this kind of thing in foreign language apps: it tells you how many days in a row you’ve shown up. The basic idea is that the feedback will give you motivation to show up more regularly.

But as we discussed the idea in the forum, I saw some drawbacks. It became clear to me that this was outside motivation, not genuine internal motivation. In fact, it could cause extra stress for each of us as we try to do it perfectly.

This Made Me Think

Showing up perfectly, every day without fail, is not necessarily the best practice. If I’m attached to doing it perfectly and some day I can’t make it, then I may never start again. Imagine I do two months without missing a day, and then I miss one! That could make me give up. Why put all that pressure on myself?

But if I am doing my work from a genuine internal motivation, I’m not paying attention to “doing it perfectly.” So when I miss a day here and there, it’s no big deal. My day streak was not ruined, because I’m not paying attention to that at all.

What I am paying attention to is my internal experience of doing The Work, which is its own motivation. When I discover through my work that what I thought was a stressful situation is not stressful for me, I feel freedom. And it’s that feeling of freedom that brings me back to do more of The Work.

It so nice to forget about perfection, and just follow my heart into inquiry.

If you want to start building a practice of The Work, or just want to experience it more deeply, join us for The Work 101 online course starting July 10. Registration closes this Friday, July 7.

Have a great week,
Todd

“There is a perfection beyond what the unquestioned mind can know. You can count on it to take you wherever you need to be, whenever you need to be there, and always exactly on time.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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The Work 101 Course Is Not Just for Learning The Work

forest

Trees grow taller in a forest. And learning accelerates in a group.

I Created The Work 101 for Anyone Who Is New to The Work

But many experienced people have taken the course—even certified facilitators. What is the value of a course like this for them?

Review is always helpful. But I think what really makes the course valuable for all experience levels is the fact that there is a structure to the course, a structure that holds everyone to do The Work.

The result is that a habit of doing The Work starts to naturally develop. It happens automatically just by participating.

This Is How I See my Job as a Facilitator

“Facilitate” literally means “to make easier.” So my job is to make it easier for people to do The Work.

You may think of facilitating as just one-on-one work with clients. But another powerful way to “make it easier” to do The Work can be found in group structures like The Work 101.

It’s like joining a sports team. On a sports team, you get specialized training to help you learn the sport better. And you also get the camaraderie and encouragement of working with others. A team is a great way to make exercise more enjoyable and to help ensure that it actually gets done.

The Work 101 Is Training

Training on two levels: learning skills and establishing a practice. And it does both of these simultaneously.

It’s a structured support system to get you started until your momentum is gained.

I also take attendance in The Work 101—sometimes, just knowing that you’re expected to keep showing up can be very helpful in overcoming inertia. And I read everyone’s work every day and leave comments. There’s quite a lot of support.

It Is Effective

About 2/3 of participants in The Work 101 continue on in Inquiry Circle, my ongoing practice group for The Work—whether they were new to The Work when the started, or whether they were experienced.

And the people who join Inquiry Circle directly from taking The Work 101 tend to be the most consistent in their practice. I think this is because such a momentum of practice was started in The Work 101 that it carries them.

For this reason, I’m now making The Work 101 a prerequisite for joining Inquiry Circle. Even if you are very experienced in The Work, I believe that going through The Work 101 before starting Inquiry Circle will help you go further with it.

The Next Course Starts July 10

Join us for six weeks of doing The Work in a structured and supportive learning environment. It all takes place online so you can do it from anywhere. It includes short videos, documents, and exercises for you to do every day, four days per week.

I invite you to bring your real life to the course. Many participants have seen significant changes in their life as a result of the work they have done in the course. It is a supportive, safe environment for sharing, and you can go as deep as you want while you learn.

This Will Be the Last Course Until January

If your summer schedule allows it, I’d love to have you join us. Registration closes July 7. Learn more and sign up here.

Have a great week,
Todd

“It’s generous to bring this practice into everyday life. The results are nothing short of miraculous, realized ever more deeply through further inquiry.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Get two new articles about The Work of Byron Katie every week, plus my checklist for the Judge-Your-Neighbor-Worksheet. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

If you like this article, feel free to forward the link to friends, family or colleagues. Or share the link on Facebook or other social media. If you have thoughts you’d like to share about it, please leave your comments below.

How Big of a Mirror Do You Need to See Yourself?

saxophone

For you, this might look like a close up of a saxophone but, for me, it’s a mirror. I see my fingers holding my camera there.

What Stops People From Doing The Work?

If there is one thing that seems to stop people from doing The Work more anything else, it is this: trying to solve big problems.

Because big problems are big! And important. And daunting.

Big problems make me think, “My whole life is at stake.” This kind of thought adds pressure when I want to do The Work. And it makes me put it off.

Fortunately, The Work Is Much Simpler Than That

The Work is not about figuring things out. It’s not about “getting to the bottom of things.” The Work is not about learning more about myself so that I can control myself. It is not about fixing my life.

It is not even about dealing with issues.

The Work is just a way of exploring. Exploring the possibility that there are no issues, even when I think there are.

The Problem with Trying to Solve Big Issues

If you’re trying to solve big issues by doing The Work, you’ll probably feel the need to look for big situations to bring to The Work. And you set the stage for intimidation and disappointment. You’ll be looking to go deep, to find the mother of all situations. And you’ll be easily dissatisfied. Or you may not even start The Work because of this.

It’s like trying to find a mirror big enough, perfect enough, to reflect your whole life in it! Very difficult indeed. That’s the problem with problem solving.

But When I Just Do The Work on What Came Up Today, It’s Easy

That’s how I like to do The Work. I let life show me what to work on next. I don’t have a plan. I don’t have a strategy. I just wait for the next tripwire that I happen to stumble over. And I do my work on that.

It’s that easy.

I don’t need a mirror the size of a city to see my life. I can see it perfectly well reflected in the tiny, and big, events of daily living.

My Partner and I Laughed About It Last Night

There was a mosquito in the house that was zooming around. My partner said that the mosquito was not sure what it wanted to do.

We both laughed because my partner was feeling exactly that way in that moment. He had been trying to read a book that he didn’t like. And he was getting up and down trying to decide whether to keep reading or find something else to do.

The mosquito was literally his mirror in that moment! His off the cuff judgment about the mosquito described his own mind perfectly in that particular situation.

That’s How The Work Works

The Work takes any situation, invites me to write my thoughts about it, and unfailingly shows me who I am in that moment. That’s why I trust it.

No need to unearth the past. Yet, if some big past situation comes up for me, great; I’m open to work it when it comes up of its own accord. But there’s no need to find the perfect thought to question. There’s no pressure.

I know that I can see myself just as well in a tiny mirror as I can in a big mirror. And small mirrors have the distinct advantages of being both easier to hold and easier to find.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“If you don’t know what to write about, wait. Life will give you a topic. Maybe a friend didn’t call you back when she said she would, and you’re disappointed. Maybe when you were five years old, your mother punished you for something you didn’t do. Maybe you’re upset or frightened when you read the newspaper or think about the suffering in the world.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

Get two new articles about The Work of Byron Katie every week, plus my checklist for the Judge-Your-Neighbor-Worksheet. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

If you like this article, feel free to forward the link to friends, family or colleagues. Or share the link on Facebook or other social media. If you have thoughts you’d like to share about it, please leave your comments below.

Why Doing The Work at the Same Time of Day Works Best for Me

beach

The sun rises at pretty much the same time every day. It probably doesn’t involve much thinking.

I’ve Tried Different Ways of Scheduling The Work

For some time, I’ve been using my calendar to schedule an appointment every day to do The Work. This works pretty well, but I’m not completely satisfied with this approach.

The reason is that I tend to move the appointment around when I need to squeeze something else into my day: an extra appointment, or some unexpected task. And because doing The Work is an appointment with only myself, it tends to be the most “flexible” appointment in my calendar. So flexible, in fact, that it can sometimes be squeezed right out.

That Doesn’t Work for Me

I like to have systems in place in my life for things that I really want to do. I have a system for brushing my teeth, a system for doing my yoga every day, a system for doing my meditation every day, a system for cooking good food every day, a system for going to bed at the same time every night. I guess the better word is “routine.”

Anything that I want to do consistently over time has to be in a routine for me. Otherwise, it’s hit or miss.

And routine seems to work best when it’s at the same time each day.

That Way I Don’t Have to Think About It

If I had to decide when I was going to brush my teeth each day, I’d probably only do it a few times a week. If I had to decide if I was going to cook or not, I’d end up scrounging for food more often than not. And if I left yoga and meditation as flexible things I could schedule in “if there’s enough time” then they wouldn’t happen with much consistency.

It’s doing these things on a regular routine that makes them happen day in and day out for decades.

The same time of day is important for my routines. Because using the same timing every day helps it to become automatic. A habit. Not something I have to plan out, or schedule in. I just go with the routine. It’s easy.

My Mind Has Two Modes of Functioning

One is for planning. And the other is for doing.

If I try to do both the planning and the doing at the same time my brain goes nuts. And I get stressed. And when I get stressed, I start dropping all the extra things to do. My mind needs simplicity to function. So when it gets overwhelmed, it gets rid of everything except the essentials. It basically pares my day down to what it knows: to the routine items and to putting out any fires.

If doing The Work is not a part of my routine items, guess what? The Work gets cut. Unless on rare occasion I’m using The Work to put out a fire.

The Work was getting cut a lot for me the last few months. Because my schedule was over-full, and because doing The Work was not set up for the same time every day.

But Recently I Found a Fixed Time

Fixed time for me doesn’t mean mornings every other day and afternoons every other day. I tried that. It didn’t work. I needed a time that could be consistent every day.

I also like it to be the first thing I do in a block of time. So either first thing in morning, or first thing in my afternoon. I tried the end of the afternoon, but my mind was tired. And even end of the morning was always a scramble getting odds and ends done.

So I tried first thing after coming back from lunch. I was able to make a recurring appointment in my calendar for 1 – 1:30 PM every week day. This has been working great. It’s a routine (same time every day). It’s consistent. It’s at the beginning of my afternoon, before I get too busy. And I’m finding myself being very consistent with it.

I Don’t Have to Think

I don’t have to plan when I will do my work. It’s clearly in my mind. I don’t even need a calendar to remind me. It’s on automatic pilot. It’s becoming a routine.

And that’s when I really settle into it. I know the time is there every day. I can count on it. And I start diving deeper in my work.

So it’s working for me, just like my yoga, my meditation, my cooking, my teeth brushing. I don’t have to think about any of these things. I just show up and dive into doing them.

Have a great weekend,
Todd

“As you do The Work, you return to the place you never actually moved from, the heart, the sweet center of the universe. Heart is just another name for the open mind. There is nothing sweeter.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

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