Ever wondered how professional, busy women ‘fit everything in’? Welcome to the first interview in my ‘She’s got time for WHAT?’ series.
I’ve spoken with these gorgeous ladies and they’re shared their days with me. We’re covering things such as:
- What they do
- How they do it
- When they fit everything in
- Personal boundaries
- Time for themselves
- Favourite tools
- Productivity and efficiency secrets
Introducing – Sarah Fletcher
Tell me a bit about your business
I am a meditation teacher. I have been meditating for more than 20 years, and sharing my passion for meditation with others since 2009 when I set up Quiet Mind Meditation. I run group classes, corporate onsite programs and an online eCourse, produce downloadables, guided meditations and eBooks. My goal is to design the tools and resources so that everyone has an opportunity to learn this ancient practice .. which I consider a life tool.
Do you have a ‘typical day’? Or are most days different?
Having my own business means that I have a sense of each day being alive with potential .. but there will always be some structure around family needs and managing the various admin/operational requirements of the business.
How does your average day look, from the minute you wake up to the minute you go back to bed?
I am blessed with having my own business and doing what I love .. so I am able to wake up naturally with the rising sun (I have no curtains so the light on my face naturally wakes me) and then I drink a glass of water and settle in for my meditation of 20-45 minutes (depending on the day ahead). I then journal for 3-5 minutes as part of a free-thought writing practice .. and then launch into my day. First, organising the household and their needs, then I make my one and only cup of coffee for the day (a Mindfulness practice in itself) before settling down at my computer – reading my Action List (prepared the night before) – and making magic happen!
Do you feel like you fit everything in? Or do you finish your day thinking you should have done so much more? Please chat a bit about that.
I try to be happy with whatever I have achieved .. or at least accepting that some days are super productive (and others less so). Meditation clears the mind and one of the amazing benefits of a regular practice is that ‘spaciousness’ allows for a pretty hefty flow of creative ideas .. so much so, that I have to be very stern with myself and not get drawn into all the fantastic ideas that comes up. Sometimes that strategy works, other times I have to get out my Dream-Do book and mind dump everything to come back to later. So there is always a temptation to start something new .. which can artificially make me feel that I am falling behind. I have to recognize that is not the case, smile and take one step forward at a time.
Do you specifically do anything – on a regular basis – that you believe really contributes a lot to your success?
I learnt to meditate when I was in senior school as there was a concern about exam stress and how the student body was handling the lead up to our final exams. I was instantly fascinated by the experience and so have been meditating for more (way more!) that 20 years.
Through all of life’s challenges, shifts and demands .. a corporate career in a competitive industry, marriage, travel, relocation, divorce and children .. I have always had this safe harbor of my practice to return to, and refresh, each and every day. I cannot imagine my life without my meditation practice. I believe meditation is the doorway to being present, engaged and happy in life.
I also believe that a regular meditation practice is a time ‘expander’ .. there is a wonderful quote attributed to a Zen monk “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour”. Totally agree!
Does managing your time come easily to you? Have you always been that way?
When I was working in the corporate sector, I had to manage my time wisely as I had multiple stakeholders and competing demands (and I was a single mother). Since starting my own business this sense of managing my time well has been tested.
After working from home for five years, I have recently moved into an office offsite. The reason was to combat some of the ‘at home’ challenges, like the washing that needs to be done, or family members who might also be at home and want to shop (my daughter) or drop in for a chat. My productivity has now improved exponentially .. removing distractions and having a quiet and work-oriented environment certainly helps. Like meditation, we step away from the external distractions when we sit down and close our eyes, and then the practice of meditation helps to clear away the distractions in our mind.
Do you have time for your friends? Your family? Your health and fitness? Please tell me a bit about that.
It is so easy when running your own business, to put in 200% to your work and find other connections and activities fade away. I have found the best way to make sure I have the necessary time for all the other parts of my life, is to schedule the time in my diary and make it a non-negotiable (like my meditation). It’s not always easy to uphold the commitment but again it’s about being mindful and present .. many people seek out meditation because they feel this deep sense of disconnected from their relationships (with themselves and others) .. because we are constantly distracted and stressed and overwhelmed .. and we lose time because we miss the magic and beauty of the present moment.
Do you have boundaries regarding your own time? How did you come up with those? Do they work?
At the moment I am committed to a set number of days in my new office, and flexible to catching moments at home when I can. It is a constant readjustment however as I get used to this new work model and it is teaching me patience and kindness (to self) and flexibility.
Do you ever feel like procrastination gets in the way of achievement? Or are you very regimented in that regard? Please tell me a bit more about that.
I am a natural procrastinator. I can deliver 1000% on the projects that excite or engage me .. and procrastinate on everything else. My Action List helps a little .. but sticking to my plan and ticking projects off (earlier rather than later) is a skill that I continue to try and develop.
How do you structure your time on social media? Do you feel like it ‘gets in the way’ of achievement? Are you addicted to scrolling and refreshing? 🙂
I love the connections that I make on social media .. but recognize that it is also a deep hole that I can easily get sucked into. Lunchtime and early evening are when I allow myself some time to scroll and engage. I also try to recognize when I am using social media as a distraction (and stop) .. and when I am engaged, learning or sharing on social media.
If you were asked to track your week, hour by hour, how do you think the outcome of the tracking would compare with your estimates of what you spend your time on?
I remember doing productivity reporting when I worked in a Chartered Accountants office, recording our day in 6minute increments (for billing). Occasionally over the years I have resorted to doing this exercise to track how I am actually spending my time. I think I would be surprised how many hours I am working .. but also how many hours I perhaps could have chosen better. I try not to beat myself up about that ..
Do you have any favourite productivity tools?
Earphones when at home (or in a co-work space) stop people from interrupting. A night time ritual of plotting out the following day with an action list. An up to date diary, so nothing is forgotten or arrives unexpectedly. I have also tried the Pomodoro Technique and find that a fun way to focus my efforts on a project. And certainly, I believe my daily meditation practice is the best productivity tool as it clears my mind and sets up my day the best possible way.
For anyone who struggles with time management – what would be your one big piece of advice for them?
Haha .. learn to meditate!
What percentage of week do you currently spend on ‘you’?
My daily meditation practice is my personal wellness tool and best possible ROI. My daily morning practice, along with several daytime/evening or class practices, would most weeks equate to maybe 4-6 hours a week. Some research suggests that the benefits of meditation in terms of ‘rest’ time is equivalent to sleep, but meditating regularly is like getting a mega-dose of rest time.
What percentage of week do you wish you could spend on ‘you’?
I think that I have a pretty good balance at the moment. Being able to take regular short breaks, or a longer holiday, is also vital to my sense of freedom and that I am looking after myself. Plus .. a 15 minute meditation practice is just 1/100th of your day .. and I don’t know that you can get a better return on your investment.
Sarah I love your take on time management from a holistic perspective. This is a breath of fresh air!