You know how you have books sitting around your house waiting to be read? I mean, I know you fully intend to read EVERY SINGLE BOOK you own, but let’s face it – you won’t. This book changed the way I think about that now.
In December 2018, I was walking through my house grabbing up a few things as I slowly move into my boyfriend’s house and my eyes happened upon a book called ‘Hands Free Mama’ by Rachel Macy Stafford. There was a Post-It note in the inside from my friend Leslie Swathwood about Rachel being a dear friend and how her books and blog helped her be a better person. The book went into my overnight bag and out the door I went.
This book is now a 12-part reading series here on our blog because the Introduction and Chapter 1 were so packed with amazing nuggets of goodness that you can’t do the book justice with only one #FridayReads column. So let’s start at the very beginning, shall we?
Introduction: Why Hands Free?
How many of you already suffer from this:
“Information overload, electronic gadgets, packed schedules, and unachievable standards would all be waiting for me tomorrow – and the day after that and the day after that. Someday was merely a word I used to avoid facing the frenzied reality that had become my life.” – Rachel Macy Stafford, Hands Free Mama
When I read this – I was hooked because it’s as if she took words I would never utter in public right out of my head and put them there on paper for all the world to see.
Where are you putting your time, focus, energy and love today? I mean – get really real with yourself.
- Who/What has your time? Is it your family, kids, friends, relatives, spouse? Or it your job?
- Who/What has your focus? Is it your child who got an A on a spelling test or is having a hard time getting by in social studies? Or is it a relentless client?
- Who/What has your energy? Is it your spouse who wants to make love because there are 10 free minutes before the day starts? Or is it your Facebook newsfeed which you check first thing in the morning instead?
- Who/What has your love today? Is it your family? Or is it your desire to take the perfect picture of your lunch for Instagram?
Chapter 1: Acknowledge the Cost of Your Distraction
Dale Carnegie is quoted as saying, “One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living.” This couldn’t be truer. Ask any person headed to the other side of life and they all I agree that they never wished they had worked more. If we keep being distracted, then all we are doing is putting off the things in this life that make our days worth living.
You must honestly assess this current moment and take inventory of the things, people, situations that are costing you a life.
“I realized with clarity that this – this pausing when the whole world keeps on going – is living.” – Rachel Macy Stafford, Hands Free Mama
Exercise 1: Go Hands Free for a Specific Time Period Each Day
So I started the year off with scheduling device-free time for family events. Did you hear what I just wrote there? I actual have to schedule time to tell myself, “Put your phone down, Sheryl.” Oy! Every day from 7pm to 8pm at night I’m putting my phone down for one full hour to do nothing online. (I’m a social media strategist – that’s tough!)
The only person who can protect my time is me, so I’m scheduling my hands-free time each day.
Exercise 2: Make a Priceless Investment
You need to re-evaluate what is a valuable use of your time. I have always been of the mindset that I needed to check the box off the to-do list. The reality is there are a lot of distractions on my plate which I call my “to-do list”. Instead, I need to reconnect with people and not make it a to-do item. Call people, write letters, etc. because I want to – not because of a to-do list.
Exercise 3: Let Go of the To-Do List!
This one is tough, right? I mean – I have stuff to do for work, but I don’t have to look at the list all damn day long. Instead, I programmed time on my calendar to look at my list and then I PUT IT AWAY. Yep – I put it up for most of the day. This forces me to stay focused instead of feeling bad about something that didn’t get done, etc.
There you have it. I will have Part 2 of this 12-part writing series coming up in a few weeks for February. Now – go change your day with a few tweaks and modifications! Let’s hear how it goes!