“Being busy isn’t the same as being productive.”
Let that sink in for a second.
One of my biggest challenges with my new position at work is that I’ve had to exercise my right to say “no”, which up until late 2017 wasn’t a word I used often. I was always focused on pleasing others, trying to constantly make a good impression, and honestly stressing out and getting sick by over-scheduling myself.
I would wake up for work at 6:00am, got to work by 7:45am, worked through my lunch every day, volunteered after work until about 5:00pm, got home around 6:00 pm , made/ate a quick dinner, did the work I brought home with me until 11:00pm, and got to bed around 11:30 pm… and repeat.
Do you do this too?
Not only did I spend most of my waking hours either at work, doing work, or doing things for other people, but I was basically neglecting to spend any time with my family or focusing on self-care. It wasn’t until my husband finally said something to me that I had to really look at how and where I was using my time.
In order to do this, I had to first evaluate why my schedule was so busy to begin with:
When people would ask me to do something for them, I’d always figure out a way to block it into my schedule, even if that meant cutting out doing something I wanted to do.
Comparing myself to others
If my coworkers were working harder than me than I must be lazy right?
When I would set my mind on completing something, there were often interruptions, rescheduling, or add-ons to tasks. This made it difficult to scratch things off my to-do list.
In the position I’m in, often my professional time crosses into my personal time. “Voluntary” events get scheduled when I’d normally be at home, or timeline expectations wouldn’t work with basic working hours.
So how can you create a more minimalist schedule?
Exercise your right to say “no”
We can’t do everything, even though we’d like to think we can. Saying “no” can be difficult (it will take some practice), especially if you’re newer in your career like I am. However, your health (and mental health) are the most important thing. I had a great boss who really understood priorities, and I was lucky to work with him for a short time. His motto was “Your health, Your family, THEN your job”. Be sure to define your priorities and when you’re asked to do something be sure that by saying yes, you don’t have to say no to your overall goals.
Schedule in “me-time”
It’s easy to forget about doing something that you want to do if you don’t block in that time. Each week my husband and I have a set aside time to do something that makes us happy (I’m taking pottery classes, while he’s enrolled in hockey).
Set your own timeline
Don’t let the timeline and priorities of others dictate your life (with the exception of work deadlines during working hours, of course). I’m thinking more along the lines of favours asked of you by others. Determine the urgency of the situation, and if you don’t have the time to do it when they’re asking, see: “exercise your right to say ‘no’”.
A couple days ago I wrote about a Minimalist Cell Phone, which was probably my biggest distraction. Turn off notifications to things that aren’t important in order to focus on the things that are.
Since I’ve started to minimize my schedule, I’ve had more time for joy. I get to do the things I’ve been meaning to do, see people I want to see, and most importantly, spend more time with my family. It’s actually given me the time to write most of this blog too!
Remember, no matter how many things we schedule into our lives, or how long our to-do list, we have the same 24 hours in a day as the rest of the world. The way we spend those 24 hours should be up to us.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey
What’s something taking time out of your 24 hours?