Have you ever felt like your time was being sucked into some sort of chronological Bermuda Triangle? Where did all the hours go? Most of us live at such a breakneck pace that it’s hard to remember all the things we did today, much less last week or last month.
Or have you wondered why you always seem to react a particular way to a certain person or in a certain kind of situation? Where did that anxiety come from? At times it seems to tackle us from behind.
Or have you been feeling exhausted or restless, with no apparent reason? Why am I feeling this way? It’s hard to focus on the people in front of us and the tasks at hand when all we want to do is sleep or go somewhere – anywhere – else.
Enter the usefulness of tracking and reflecting. When we take a few moments each day to make notes on our activities or our state of mind, we can begin to notice patterns that help us understand ourselves better and point to potential changes.
Here are a few examples:
- Where did all the time go? Use your calendar to keep detailed notes on how you spend your days, even marking how you use short bursts of time for things like email, Facebook, or hallway conversations. After a few weeks, sit down with your calendar and look for the time leaks. (You might even consider color-coding the different categories of time use to help with this reflection piece, especially if you’re a visual person.) What changes could you make to plug up these leaks?
- Where did that anxiety come from? Keep a journal handy. When someone or something prompts you to act in a way you don’t like, write down what happened, who was involved, and what your mindset was going into the situation. Think through what you could do differently next time to come away with a different result. After you’ve made a few entries in your journal, consider whether there’s a pattern in your triggers and what that might mean for how you prepare for appointments and/or when you schedule them.
- Why do I feel so exhausted/restless? Sometimes these feelings are the stirrings of discernment. Sometimes they are due to temporarily overwhelming life circumstances. And sometimes they are simply related to personality type. Look back over your calendar over the last few weeks. Are you an introvert who has been covered up with pastoral care visits and meetings? Are you an extrovert who has been chained to her desk lately by the demands of study and planning? Where might you play to your personality type to strike more of a balance in your day?
Patterns can be adjusted, but only when we’re aware of them! If self-reflection isn’t giving you the answers you seek, ask for the observations of a person you trust.