One of the greatest lessons that I learned last year was how much I got in the way of letting myself live; the limitations that I had placed on myself, the excuses that I had made, and the perceptions that I had. There is a tremendous value to letting go of the things that hold us back, weigh us down and prevent us from reaching our full potential. When I made the decision to free myself from these things, my entire worldview changed. This post is the first in a series on the topic of letting go and de-cluttering your life. Over the course of the series, we will dive into things that consume our day, our mind, our heart and even our physical space (don’t worry, I won’t be writing an article inspiring you to buy a tiny home).
When I think about the limitations we all have, I immediately think of our most valuable resource as humans, and that is TIME. What consumes our day. How we spend each day is largely based on the obligations that we feel we have, but my challenge to you and what I hope to achieve from this is that you start to question those 1440 minutes that you spend each day. What are you doing with your time, why are you doing it, does it really need to be done and most importantly what is the return on this time investment?
So how do you spend your day? I read an article once that said you can really only do three things well at any given time; the thought being that if you spread yourself across too many activities you can only give minimal effort whereas if you select three areas of focus you can give maximum effort. The article (which I can’t find for the life of me now) broke these categories into decent sized buckets (family, work/school, friends, health/fitness, hobby, you get the gist). It really made me think about how I spend my day and what I wanted to put my focus on in order to give maximum effort to the things that I cared about. In general, I tend to agree with the article in that you really need to prioritize what is important to you and invest your time in those areas. What would your three buckets be? At this minute, mine would be family, work, health/fitness…I’m sorry friends but maybe we can work out together?
When you think about your day, try to focus on the activities that turn a positive return. Interactions with your family will fill your love tank, working gives you a sense of purpose and has practical returns like salary and health benefits, reading a book is enjoyable and is just plain good for the brain. Really think about the things you are doing and make sure they have purpose and provide value to your life. If they don’t, stop wasting your time.
In thinking about how I used to spend my time, I removed many mindless activities that provided little to no return, things like pointless internet time (you know that time between 8:30p and 10:00p when you are sitting on the couch like a mindless zombie missing out on contact with other humans in your close proximity), obsessive list making just for the sake of making a list (I have list issues), sitting on the couch watching TV during the kids’ naptime, and stupid Pinterest projects that just never turn out or save me money or give me tank top worthy arms in 10 days (you know what I am talking about). It seems minimal, but these things add up each day. Use this time gained and do more of the things that you want to do. When you are 85 you aren’t going to wish you would have spent more time making your own baby wipes or laundry detergent…go buy the damn things and move on with your day.
Last year I took steps to take back more of my own time. I think women tend to give most of their time to others because generally speaking we invest a lot in our children and families and want to make sure everyone else is taken care of because they are so important to us. I think far too often we forget to take care of ourselves, and for me I started to feel this growing feeling of unfulfillment. So last year I decided to get a little selfish. I started taking back some of the time that I was spending making others happy and used that time to do more of what I wanted. What’s the saying, “if mama aint happy, aint nobody happy”? I made time to do things that I wanted to do like run, take a girls trip, actually post things on Facebook that were about me and not just about my kids. Let me tell you, it was amazing. Never once did I feel neglectful to my family and I don’t think my young children were any the wiser that I didn’t have a full list of kid centered activities planned each and every weekend. My goal was never to take anything away from my family, but instead give myself more so that I could feel more fulfilled and in turn give them more of me. This can be a hard topic to fully embrace because you do have to find the balance.
So back to my original question, how do you spend your day and what are you willing to let go of? What non value added activities can be cut? Once you are able to let go of these you are one step closer to removing self-imposed limitations. One thing I want to make sure is still understood even after all of the prioritization and no value added time comments that I have made, I still do believe it is possible to do/have it all. I absolutely believe this, but in order to do/have it “ALL” you have to be willing to redefine the word “ALL”.