Striped pocketWe are going to start a series of Keys to Keeping Chaos at Bay related to putting ‘pockets’ into your life.  To get us started, visualize each of the following, which will help you get the concept in your mind…

  • Picture yourself getting an old purse or wallet out of your closet and finding change in a pocket.  You got a surprise of some extra money!
  • Think about a time when you reached into a winter coat or spring jacket and found folded-up money. You received a surprise of some extra money!
  • Remember a time when a three-hour meeting was canceled at the last minute and you found out you had a ‘pocket’ of time you weren’t expecting. A wonderful surprise!

When you have ‘pockets’ in your life, big and little surprises (of the positive kind) can result.

There are other ways of thinking about this idea, which I will mention in future weeks.  But here is when I first started really thinking about this concept for myself…

When I was the Director of the Excellence in Teaching Program at the University of Nevada, Reno, if I had a 10:00 meeting across campus, and I knew that it took me ten minutes to walk from my office to the Provost’s office.  I would leave at 9:50, working right up until the moment I needed to leave. I was, of course, thinking how efficient I was. WRONG! A 10-minute walk across campus would only work if

  • I didn’t see anyone I knew along the way (and that wasn’t going to happen after 15 years on campus),
  • if I didn’t notice something interesting to look at (students doing something, a new set of plantings, a poster that begged to be read), and
  • if I didn’t need to take a quick restroom break on the way (also highly unlikely since I’d been working all morning and drinking coffee!)

So, in order to be “on time,” I’d be charging across campus, barely greeting anyone I knew and purposely ignoring everything interesting that might distract me (and of course, not stopping in the bathroom). Harumph! This was not a smart or efficient way for me to behave.

I decided to make that year (and it’s a constant, continuing quest) the year of time “pockets.” If I had a breakfast meeting that started at 8:00 and I knew it took 15 minutes to drive there, I would leave at 7:30. Gosh! What if I got there early?! Here’s what happened: I was calmer and more ready to meet, pay attention to my colleagues, and think. So, we are going to start a little series in the Keys to Keeping Chaos at Bay that will address the notion of putting “pockets” in the following areas:

  1. Time
  1. Wealth
  1. Stuff (cars, appliances, etc.)
  1. Kids/family
  1. Work (self-employed)
  1. Work (not self-employed)
  1. Health
  1. Home
  1. Energy
  1. Ideas

And maybe some other areas, but we’ll see how it goes.  We all need as many reminders as we can find!!

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And if you liked these tips, feel free to check out Putting Pockets in Your Personal Life: 52 Tips to Implement Immediately. If you know you are operating without any “pockets,” and you realize that you have lost sight of the difference between calm and crazed, then this booklet will help you regain that realization and subsequently DO something about it.

Inside, you’ll find practical ideas to implement, letting you actually choose to put in pockets in your personal life (i.e., some protected space, both the physical and metaphorical). With these 52 tips in-hand, and you’ll be well on your way to greater peace of mind and productivity.