Welcome to episode #174 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. Do you ever wonder how you can get your plan to match your reality? If you’re swinging from the pendulum of burnout and procrastination, today’s podcast on why soulful time blocking worked for me and the shifts in thinking that occurred – that you can borrow for your life.
If you haven’t listened to last week’s episode, we covered how soulful time blocking changed my life. In summary, soulful time blocking is a holistic approach to time management that integrates your spiritual practices, personal growth, and well-being into your daily routine. It goes beyond traditional time management by prioritizing not only your tasks and responsibilities but also your inner development and connection to your authentic self. This practice recognizes that the quality of your time is just as important as the quantity of tasks completed.
When I was struggling with burnout, one of the most important changes I made wasn’t just adding different activities like meditation to my day – it was to think differently. I was already meditating every day, but who I was when I was going through my day was playing the role of victim and doer. I was trying to work my way through every problem, instead of bringing greater awareness and higher levels of thinking to every problem.
When it came to the load of work I was dealing with, I tried to just do more, and more quickly. I was all about efficiency. I read time management books. I categorized things as urgent and important, planned and prioritized – but I still felt like there was more than I could get done in a day, and not only that, but external expectations were that these would all get done in the day. It felt like a lot all of the time and that I was failing at it all.
Here are the things I had to do differently, and the ways I had to think of life and my time differently – that actually made a difference. It’s how I became a better human being, made career shifts and learned new skills like getting certified at Columbia for executive coaching, even while I had a demanding job and 2 small children.
Traditional time management often focuses solely on productivity and efficiency. Soulful time blocking recognizes that well-being encompasses physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. It’s about nurturing your whole self.
I started thinking about myself as a performance athlete. Someone who had to have a more holistic approach to my life. It wasn’t optional. My life depended on me running well on all cylinders. I got over the initial pang of investing more money into health, and started seeing a holistic practitioner, who was an integrative medicine practitioner. He asked me not just about my physical health but about my mental health, my job and career changes – giving me additional accountability to move forward and have hard conversations about leaving one job for another.
By allocating time for self-reflection and mindfulness, soulful time blocking encourages a deeper understanding of your thoughts, feelings, and motivations. This self-awareness contributes to personal growth.
I began to see that my meditation practices were great but not enough on their own. I needed to deepen my meditation practices by spending more time noticing what my patterns of thinking were that led to my feelings. I realized that the more frantic and harried I was in my day to day, the more I needed to slow down and deepen my own self awareness of why I was doing all these things. I had to understand what my motivations were and why this was important to me.
Sometimes, there were emotions underneath the surface that I hadn’t stopped to witness. When I could see and witness these emotions without judging myself for being weak or too slow, time seemed to slow down long enough for me to figure out what I wanted to do with these emotions. I would start taking 5-10 minutes to write down what I noticed after my meditations and this practice opened up a lot of clarity. Even asking myself to plan out my days ahead of time was a moment of self-awareness and reflection that sometimes felt too slow. I just wanted to get into the work, but I would tell myself that even 2 minutes was enough. If I had 30 seconds and half the morning already passed, that was enough. Just plan then and stay out of the judgment of not having done it first thing in the morning or the night before.
It’s like when I’m going into a more difficult pose in yoga and I first take a deep long breath to center and ground myself. These moments of mindfulness and reflection became more and more baked into the day and when I would come back to times of crisis or lots to do, I would have a way to recover and regroup that allowed me to feel ready to do it again – maybe not that day, but the next day. This is so important because the longer we go feeling exhausted and not ready, the longer we delay our life and the ability to enjoy and celebrate the present moment.
While traditional time management might prioritize completing tasks, soulful time blocking emphasizes growth that aligns with your values and aspirations. It encourages activities that foster personal development and transformation.
I began to see the smallest things as important for my growth. I would find that even the way that I talked to the kids or the way I would make my breakfast would be a place of growth. How do I bring my best self to the people around me, including myself? How I treat myself when I don’t complete a task that I wanted to complete matters more than completing the task itself. My daily workouts were a place for me to consider if I was pushing myself too hard or to notice where and when I liked to pick up the pace.
I started doing fewer things. Uncomfortably fewer things so that I could have more growth in the places I did spend time. This was hard because it went against patterns of wanting to fill my days. It also was a bit exciting and it had to be – otherwise I would just keep overworking and hustling.
Doing less was exciting because it meant that I could do those fewer things better and that I could finally lean in and spend the appropriate amount of time on what I wanted to do more. This was the tradeoff but well worth it in my opinion. I get better at my gifts and I get exponentially more rewarded spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically when I spend time on the things I truly am gifted at then on other things.
Authenticity and Connection
Soulful time blocking creates space for authentic connection—with yourself and others. It’s about fostering relationships, nurturing your passions, and connecting with your spiritual journey.
I started seeing how I wasn’t spending as much time with my family and friends as I desired. It was also more than just the amount of time spent, it was how present I was when I was with them. For example, I would often just think about work all day long so even if I wasn’t there at work, I would keep thinking about it, mulling it over and trying to fix the problems of the day.
When you create space for your brain to unwind, reflect and think on purpose, you stop procrastinating because you know this task is not just another to-do. Doing is just as much about your growth in the way you do things – not about completing all the to-do’s and doing your work perfectly. You start to realize that you’re meant to spend time with and be a human being with other human beings. You come out of your dream-like state and snap back to reality. You’re here, now.
Who was I beyond the things I did or the family I had or the relationships I nurtured? This is the authenticity that brings you back to a feeling of peace, presence of curiosity and wonder. All of these questions and related feelings are the antidote to procrastination and burnout. Reflecting on my authentic self connects me back to who I am, a spiritual being first and foremost, before a human being.
Constantly being on the go and pushing yourself to complete tasks can lead to burnout. Soulful time blocking encourages breaks, self-care, and activities that recharge your energy. It is the requirement that we often forget – rest.
I’ve had so many experiences with burnout that I know it very well and I can spot the signs. The signs of thinking “just one more” instead of asking “would I do this if I’m going to do this for the rest of my life?” Patience is something that was and still is hard at times for me to have.
I’m described as being patient by most people because generally, I’m pretty practiced at staying calm. I also know that there are times that I just want to push through life quickly to hurry up and see results instead of doing the daily, slow and consistent march. Yet, I have found the best results in the latter. I have found that being kind to myself and not pushing works better and lets me stay in the game longer. When I made myself think I had to quit the corporate world immediately, I started burning out with my coaching work and corporate work. When I made myself think I would do corporate work forever, I stopped the burnout and got better results in both places.
By weaving spiritual practices and growth-oriented activities into your routine, you’re setting the foundation for long-term fulfillment and a sense of purpose in your life.
All of these shifts in the way you think and feel about life is the internal work you don’t always see. These are spiritual practices. These are purposeful practices and things every single person can do because it’s about you as an individual and the way your life is structured.
Soulful time blocking is a conscious choice to design your days in a way that aligns with your highest intentions and values. It’s an invitation to infuse each moment with meaning, foster well-being, and embrace personal growth as an integral part of your daily journey.
The more we do this, the more we foster that deep connection to our spiritual self and the person we are beyond what we do. The self that knows the why.
Next week we’ll dive into choosing spiritual practices. You won’t want to miss it!
To take this work even deeper, on August 30th in the Spiritual Achiever coaching program, we’ll be coaching on the topic of creating more Daily Magic in your life through the power of rituals and flow states.
Reach out at www.mayempson.com/contact for more information on my Spiritual Achiever coaching program. You’ll figure out what’s next and actually go and do it.
If you like this blend of both practicality and mindset, you will love coaching. You can schedule a consultation at www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more about working together and joining this community of like-minded, open and curious seekers. It is the powerful group and private coaching hybrid experience for achievers who want to expand their vision of what’s possible. Twelve months of support, individualized guidance, community and retreats. We will help you build your confidence, trust your intuition and make decisions that you love.
That’s it for this week. Have an amazing one and I’ll talk to you next time.