Do you struggle with trying to keep up with all of the needs of your home and family? Is finding time to get organized a challenge? Maybe you have trouble balancing EVERYTHING without feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps your biggest issue is finding balance between home and work.
My husband and I are tired. Tired of feeling overwhelmed and like we’re in the hamster wheel of life. Time flies by, but when we pause to reflect on what the week or month was like, we can’t even remember what we did or what was important about it. We are on a journey to simplify.
If you are ready to stop overwhelm and feel more satisfied with the life you are living now, then read on. Let’s look at ways to declutter your schedule and get back to the sweet things of life that bring you joy.
Overcommitted & Overwhelmed
We have become worshipers of busyness. It’s not so much that we like being busy or that we like its byproducts: exhaustion, overwhelm, and lack of real connections. We like what the marketing experts portray to us about life and get sucked into busyness.
For example, we want our kids to have every opportunity and to be well rounded, so we opt to enroll them in several different extracurricular activities…to the point of fatigue.
Or, as parents, we want (or feel compelled) to do everything…keep the house running, work for money, volunteer, exercise, and go to book club.
It’s tough. Seriously it is. There are a lot of expectations on you, needs from you, and standards by you, that drive you to overcommit.
But the reality is, you are finite. You only have so many hours available and you are only one person. Without being intentional about how you spend your time, the most urgent things in life are taken care of, while often, the most important things sit by the wayside.
How To Simplify Your Life
When you’re tired or overwhelmed, it can feel like there’s no getting off the hamster wheel. BUT, in order to live the truly sweet life, the one you dreamed of, you must hit pause and evaluate your commitments. More than likely, it’s time to simplify your life.
They say a cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind. Well, I’d say a cluttered schedule leads to a cluttered life. If you’re ready to stop the overwhelm and simplify your life, take a few moments to consider these questions.
Identify – What brings you the most joy
Each of us is motivated by different things. You may have a young family and want to spend as much time with them as you can. Or, you may have just come out of a financially difficult time and crave financial security. Below are a few examples of life motivations that bring joy.
You are the happiest when you are with those that mean the most to you. Work and hobbies center around your relationships. For example, working provides a financial means for you to support those relationships. Hobbies are a way for you to connect with those relationships. Spending quality time with those you love is important to this lifestyle.
You desire a sense of order and have a distaste for change. Work is important for a financial peace of mind, but it’s not a driving factor in your life. You find joy in being loyal and dedicated. Mutual respect is important to you.
You are the happiest when you accomplish new things, reach your goals, or hit your targets. Status quo is snoozeville for you and epotimizes a boring life. You feel the happiest when you have more influence, prestige, or financial reward.
Action! You crave action, adventure, or opportunities for creativity! You seek out new situations and environments where things are unpredictable. Your highest standard is to have an exciting life.
You love being spontaneous and having space in your life. Opportunities that allow you to exert your independence and self-control are ideal for you. Being boxed in or micromanaged is flat out depressing. You crave autonomy with few restrictions.
You are happiest with an ideal blend of work, family, and self-care. Each of these aspects are important components of your lifestyle. Flexibility is key to you finding the sweet spot in each area.
Can You Relate?
If you want to simplify your life, you need to be clear on what’s important to you. Did any of the lifestyle motivations above sound like you? It’s okay if more than one spoke to you. If you didn’t identify with any of the descriptions, that’s okay too! Just take a moment to think about the things that do motivate you.
Also, your life motivation can change due to circumstances. Before I was married, my career was extremely important to me. I was very motivated by Achievement and Security. Now, that I have young kids, I am more motivated by Relationships (but Achievement is still important to me).
How to Get More Time in Your Day
In order to stop being overwhelmed, it’s important to become clear of your priorities. Taking a minute to reflect what’s important and what success looks like, will help you make critical decisions that ultimately will help you get more time in your day.
What does success look like for you and your family?
Once you have a sense of what’s important to you and what brings you joy, think about what success looks like for you or your family. (The tool below will help you with this process. You can download it at the end of the post)
Step 1) Brainstorm a list of your priorities.
Step 2) Summarize what success looks like for you or your family in the next 12 months.
Maybe you’re like me and very motivated by achievement, but want to focus more on relationships for a period of time…e.g. while you have young kids. Maybe, you’ve invested a lot in your career and don’t want to slow down. Perhaps you love your free time and you crave to be with nature in an unscheduled environment. There’s no right or wrong answer, just define success for yourself. For me, in this season, it’s to have a thriving family.
Step 3) List all of the commitments you or your family have made for the next 12 months. Put an asterisk by anything that doesn’t align with your priorities or what success looks like at the end of 12 months.
What needs to change?
Once you define your priorities, it’s time to identify any necessary changes.
Like I mentioned earlier when I married my focus shifted from career to family. It was our goal to have kids as soon as possible. I was a leader for a large organization in Houston and was moving to Canada to be with my husband and start a family. My boss offered me the opportunity to continue to work full-time from Canada, but instinctively, I knew that things had to change. My priorities changed and the way I spent my time needed to change as well. I needed a less cluttered schedule and fewer commitments so that I could simplify my life and focus on the new priorities.
By redefining your priorities and evaluating your commitments, you may see some incongruencies. Often, there are tradeoffs you need to make. In my example, family became my priority instead of a career. For me, that meant, more trips to the zoo, more play dates, and more crafts with my kids. It also meant I resigned my leadership position, worked fewer hours, and worked from home instead of an office.
To declutter your schedule, make a list of what you want “More of” and “Less of”. They should reflect your priorities.
Step 1) Make a list of the things you need to do more of, in order to achieve your definition of success.
Step 2) Make a list of the things you need to do less of (or in some cases “stop” doing) in order to achieve your definition of success.
How to say No!
Another key to having a Decluttered Schedule is to create more space in your life. Create more margin each day. The processes we’ve reviewed up until this point highlighted commitments you need to end and trade-offs you need to make. Likely, if you’re not already, you’ll need to become good at saying no.
How good are you at saying “no”… not because you have a commitment, but because the opportunity does not align with your priorities or definition of success.
Before we had kids, I volunteered on the Board of Directors of The Cerebral Palsy Association, I served on the leadership team at our church, sang on the worship team, went to book club, had my own consulting business, and worked part-time for a company in Houston. It was a lot…and I liked it that way. But life changed…I became a mom. My priorities were different and how I spent my time needed to change as well.
So, what did I do? In some cases, I said no temporarily. Essentially, I took a break. In other cases, I scaled back and spent less time on the commitment. And there were other situations, where I needed to end my involvement altogether.
You’ll likely need to say no to some of the commitments you have that don’t align with your definition of success. You’ll also need to decide how to respond to future requests for your or your family’s involvement.
How to decide what’s important so you can maintain an uncluttered schedule
If you want to be ruthless about decluttering your schedule, then the most important thing you can do is to ensure the way you spend your time aligns with your priorities. So, the first litmus test- does the new commitment align to your definition of success…will it help you feel fulfilled at the end of the year?
The second test, does the commitment bring you joy or bring fulfillment? This can be a slippery slope, but realistically speaking, there are things you want to do that are purely for the sake of enjoyment.
If the new commitment doesn’t meet one of these two criteria for you or your family, then I’d seriously recommend saying “no”…especially if your goal is to have an uncluttered schedule.
Are you ready to simplify? Are you tired of struggling to keep up with all of the needs of your home and family? It’s time to reevaluate your priorities, define what success looks like for you and your family and then be ruthless! Assess how you’re spending your time. Identify what you need to do more of and less of. Give yourself permission to say no. Be committed to maintaining an uncluttered schedule and keeping the margin in your life.
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