Create More Time for What Matters
Can you relate to the feeling like you’re trying to do too much?
For months I have felt like I’m on a too-fast treadmill where I can barely keep up. Last weekend was the final straw when I spaced an appointment with a friend. Thirty minutes after we were supposed to meet and realized it, my heart sunk and I felt frustrated and embarrassed. I don't miss things! ….At least I didn't used to. Now with working full time, parenting a 6-month old, and still trying to squeeze in self-care and being present in my relationship, I’m dropping the ball way more often.
But here’s the great thing: I realize it now! I know I need to do less. And just in the last couple of weeks I’ve been moving in that direction, un-committing myself from things and being intentional about slowing down and being present with the remaining items on my plate.
Do you want to know the result? I feel calmer, and I feel like I’ve created space for the activities that matter to me and for ideas and creativity to flow to me in a way that hasn’t happened in MONTHS.
What really helped me get to this point was asking, “What are my top priorities?”
After days of contemplation, I have my answer. Now, if there’s something I think I HAVE to do, I ask myself, “Is this one of my priorities?” If yes, I will make it happen. If not, I let it go. It has been a great shift in feeling like I don’t have to make everything happen, all the time, all at once.
If you need help removing to-do items from your agenda and creating more space in your days, give this a try:
Grab a pen and paper and make a table with two columns–
Column A: Make a list of your priorities. List anything that you feel really matters to you right now. Examples: spending quality time with family, completing a project, exercising, cooking healthy food, going back to school, etc.
Column B: Make a list of all the things you’re trying to do right now. These are all the items on your life’s plate, all the balls you are juggling, all the to-do list items. List them all. (Examples: Time with kids, studying, watching Netflix, writing a book, community involvement, socializing with friends, cleaning the house, etc.)
Clean the house
Time with family
Clear out the garden for the season
Saving for a new car, etc...
Help kids with homework, etc...
Okay, now that you have your two lists…
Look at your priorities. Out of all of those listed, take a moment to reflect. What are your top three? Circle them now. You can acknowledge the others as things you care about, but really narrow down to the three that matter the most to you.
Next, return to Column B, your To-Do list. Go through the activities one by one and ask
yourself: Does this activity align with my top three priorities? If yes, mark it with an asterisk to denote that it stays. If it doesn’t, cross it off the list.
Example: Let’s say out of eight listed priorities, your top three priorities are spending quality time with family, exercising, and studying for an exam. If one of the activities you’re trying to juggle is cleaning the house, do you see how it doesn’t fit into your top 3 priorities? Cross it off the list. Let’s say the next item on the list is taking a walk after dinner with your family. It meets two of your three priorities: quality time with family and exercising. Mark it with an asterisk. It stays. Continue until you've gone through all the activities in your Column B list.
What this may look like in action: Since cleaning the house didn’t make the cut, but exercise and time with family did, perhaps you leave the dishes in the sink after dinner and go for a walk instead while it's still light out.
Hopefully you’ll find after this activity that what remains on your plate is less than before and feels more manageable. What got crossed off the list is there for when you have extra time. If you don’t get to it though, don’t beat yourself up. Know that you’re now being more intentional with the activities that remain, creating more time and space to live more aligned with what truly matters to you.
The rest can wait.