My mantra for 2017 is the quote by Stephen Covey: "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."
I’ve had a couple of decades of practice learning how to be judicious with my time. I spent the first 20+ years of my adult life as a busy law student, then as a busy lawyer. When you regularly work 70 hours a week you become extremely protective of your precious downtime, and vigilant about anything that can eat into it.
But after I stepped back from full-time legal practice, I started to relax my guard. And over time I started to notice that the pendulum had swung too far in the wrong direction.
So this is what I have done to enforce some compassionate boundaries, and free up my time for the things (and people!) who really matter to me:
Simplify your Daily To-Do list!
I have two To Do Lists; one big list where I put all of my tasks, big and small. I mark the tasks on this list according to urgency and importance.
But from this big list I build my Daily To-Do list. I'm pretty ruthless about my daily to-do list and try to keep it to no more than 5 things. I have found that having an unrealistically ambitious to do list just causes me stress.
I wrote about my To-Do Lists here. I have also created FREE PRINTABLES of both my Big To-Do List and my targeted Goals-Focussed To-To List. They are in the members-only Resources library. CLICK HERE to sign up to my mailing list for access to these and more than a dozen other helpful resources!
Have a Not-To-Do List
My Not-To-Do List has been a game-changer. I wrote about it HERE, and I highly (highly!!) recommend you give it a try!
There's a Not To-Do List in the Resources Library too! So if you are not already on my subscriber list CLICK HERE and I will hook you up with ALL the good stuff!
Email used to be the bane of my existence. For years I would end each day with more emails than I stared with. But a few things helped me get it under control:
- I started checking my email only twice a day. I disabled all notification pop ups too.
- I took steps to reduce the amount of email coming into my inbox. I used unroll.me which generated a list of all my email subscriptions and enabled me to unsubscribe from them all at once.
- And I reframed the way I viewed email. I now realise that just because someone has emailed me I don’t have to respond. These days I very rarely reply to unsolicited emails at all. Nothing terrible has happened. The sky has not fallen in, and I'm feeling much less harassed!
Once I got my email under control I realised how out of control my phone was! So here's what I did:
- I stopped answering calls from numbers I didn't recognise.
- I also often switch my phone off or to silent when I want to make sure I'm not interrupted.
- I let people who call me know up-front if I have time constraints so they know if they need to be brief or if we needed to make another time for a longer catch-up.
- And I kicked myself for not doing all of this YEARS AGO!
Mindless Social Media Scrolling and Internet Surfing
Let's be real. This is just a waste of life. If you can't trust yourself to limit your time, then get an app that will force you to!
For example, if you are a Mac user there is an app called Self Control. This is how they describe it: "SelfControl is a free and open-source application for Mac OS X that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click "Start." Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites--even if you restart your computer or delete the application."
Here's the link if you would like to check it out!
If you're on Google Chrome, here's a link to a similar app.
Do an “Energy Audit”
I wrote about this HERE and it has been a game-changer!
We only have so much time and energy to go around.... And so many things we want to experience and achieve. The Energy Audit exercise can help you identify the situations and people who are unnecessarily or inappropriately draining your time and energy.
There is a FREE Energy Audit Worksheet waiting for you in the Members Resource Library I created for my email list members. CLICK HERE to sign up!
Consider stepping back from high-maintenance, draining friendships.
It's not just situations that drain us. Sometimes certain people in our lives can absorb too much time, cause too much stress and drain too much energy. Friendships should leave you feeling connected, understood, accepted and supported. Connection, understanding, acceptance, support, honesty and trust are hallmarks of healthy friendships. But unhealthy friendships can leave us feeling drained, discouraged and demoralised. They absorb time and energy, our most valuable currency.
I wrote about this here. Consider this your permission slip to step back from friendships that drain or hurt you. When you eliminate the situations or people in your life that no longer support you, you are also creating space to nurture the relationships and interests that are truly important to you.
Say No unless you really want to go.
Now first a caveat. This doesn't apply to family or ride-or-die close friends. You GOTTA show up for them dahlink! What I'm talking about is this: I have a lot of acquaintances who are in business and who hold events. And invite me to their events. Some are free, but most are ticketed paid events. And I used to run myself ragged making an effort to get to as many of these events as I could. But with a full schedule I now have a rule that I no longer go to any events unless it is something I have time for and genuinely want to attend. In fact for 2017 I've declared that I won't be going to any conferences, networking events, seminars or functions. And it feels absolutely awesomely magnificent and I wish I did this years ago!
Simplify your socialising
Combine socialising with an activity you love. I've created a ritual Sunday afternoon in my kitchen. I test recipes for my blog and invite friends around to taste the results. It's made catching up with friends much easier - just come around on Sunday afternoon and let me feed you! I used to have a great way of catching up with my bestie before she moved overseas. We used to spend every Saturday morning at the gym, taking a class, doing some weights and then having a quick brunch afterwards. This is a game-changer if you have a busy social life but find it hard to schedule time for exercise. You will find that many of your friends are in the same boat and will be grateful for the opportunity to get in a walk, workout or game of tennis while catching up on all of your news!
Pretty much every silicone valley billionnaire is doing this, so it must be good, right? The theory goes that we only have so much mental bandwidth for decision-making, so why waste that precious bandwidth on deciding what to wear every morning. I'm personally not a fan of uniform dressing if it is of the monochrome really-looks-like-a-uniform variety. I love to wear vibrant colourful swishy clothing of the sparkly Camilla variety. So my uniform dressing looks nothing like a uniform. But it is still an easy, streamlined process. So if standing in front of your wardrobe every morning causes you anxiety, know that uniform dressing is definitely a thing, and it definitely doesn't have to be monochrome and boring. And allll the cool kids are doing it. So by all means give it a try!