Bog off, BOGOF!
We are all familiar with supermarket BOGOF offers (Buy One, Get One Free). These cunning ploys entice us into buying more and wasting more, and no doubt contribute to the 50% of food that is estimated to be wasted. BOGOF is bad, but what about DOGOF (Do One [Thing], Get One [Other Thing Done] Free)?
I recently started working through The Artist’s Way Workbook by Julia Cameron, a course designed to boost one’s creativity. One of the realisations I came to soon after starting it was that my conscience-inspired blog-rants on issues of the day (such as GM), need not take time away from work on my new novel. They could, in fact, be reframed and form part of it. This came as an epiphany: no longer would I feel torn between these things and desperate for more time and energy!
“Multi-purposing”, not multi-tasking
Then this morning I had the thought that this could be generalised. What if there might be a way of combining other pressing tasks? What if one perceived necessary task could achieve more than one purpose? Multi-tasking has been shown to be a myth (no one can do more than one activity at the same time effectively) but how about what I am calling “multi-purposing”?
To make this clearer, here are two examples:
- You have been on the receiving end of various acts of generosity from your friends (invitations, presents, assistance…) and you want to thank them or reciprocate in a meaningful way, but it is not possible or diplomatic to return the favours directly (by doing/giving the same thing). You have also been yearning to do something creative or to learn a new skill, such as painting, sculpture, pottery, interior decorating, cake- baking, gardening, website design, etc. Is there a way you could combine the two, and offer your friends the use of your new skill or the items you might create?
You feel the need to go to the gym, but you are struggling to find the time as there are so many other things you need to do, or you cannot afford the gym fees. Well, are any of the tasks you need or want to do exercise-intensive, or could they be made so? Gardening (digging, hedge-trimming, etc.), moving heavy items (such as books and furniture) and dancing are all excellent exercise. If you have to travel to do any of the tasks on your list, could some or all of the journey or journeys be under your own steam (walking, jogging or cycling) rather than by powered transport?
Or simply “purposing”
Or how about giving seemingly useless experiences a value (“purposing” as opposed to “multi-purposing”)? Could some of the situations you currently feel you simply have to endure become opportunities? For example, I recently had to be in the company of someone whose behaviour would previously have annoyed me no end (a distant acquaintance). Because I had to be in this person’s company for several hours, challenging the behaviour could have poisoned the atmosphere and made things even worse for me, so I decided to see the occasion as an opportunity to practise mindfulness meditation. I focused on my breathing and the immediate environment apart from my companion. Instead of feeling stressed, I felt deeply relaxed, and pleased with myself for having achieved this. I could then even feel grateful to my companion!
This could, of course, also be called “re-framing” one’s experiences, and can be done retrospectively: “What could I learn from what happened?”
Corollary: appreciate how many things you are already achieving
A corollary of all the above is that one can look at all the things one does and identify how many purposes each activity already serves. For example, anything involving physical activity serves as exercise. Buying from a small local shop as opposed to a large supermarket (back to the theme of those nasty supermarkets!) is contributing to the health and vibrancy of your local community and contributing more to the country’s tax revenue, and is therefore good for your own conscience and self-esteem. It could, in fact, be viewed as an exercise in self-love!
Be creative and imaginative here. The point of this exercise is to make you feel better about your life and look for the positives. The more you practise this, the better you will get at it, the better you will feel, the more productive you will be…!
What have you got to lose? It’s surely worth trying these things?