Feeling overwhelmed? Time to reconsider what you're trying to do with your life.
Last night at the Inspired Woman's Book Club that I host, we got talking about motivation, energy and getting things done. Particularly, how to make time for the things that truly make us happy and push us further towards our goals, that often get neglected in the rush to get everything else finished. I think its safe to say that we have all at one point or another experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by the day to day tasks like our day job, answering emails, paying bills on time, cooking for our family, or the one I hate the most, laundry! Its interesting that even though our very modern lifestyles are full of ways that are meant to make these things more convenient and time efficient, we seem to be more and more stressed by what we have on our plates.
There's a post floating around on Facebook that really summed it up for me that says "Beyonce has the same number of hours in a day that you do" which is true. But I can promise you that Beyonce does certain things that if you're feeling overwhelmed, you don't do. (she also has personal assistant and probably doesn't have to do her own laundry which helps!) And anyone who has gotten good at fitting things in and balancing their schedule has mastered these tactics.
The first and most important thing is a mindset change.
Ive often heard people say "but I have to pay rent, I have to get the laundry done, I have to cook dinner" Well actually, you don't. Doing these things is a choice. Now I know you're probably thinking "well that's just stupid of course I have to do them". You could seriously not do the laundry. But you choose to because the consequences are something that you don't want to deal with. You choose to take action to avoid those consequences.
It seems like a small shift, but when you start looking at your activities as things you CHOOSE to do rather than you HAVE to do, you take back a certain level of control. Its a step towards empowerment over what you do in your life.
Next time you write out your to do list, try writing something like "Today I have chosen to..." before each item and when you get to doing that thing, focus on that fact, and the benefit that you gain from it.
Next, you have to change how you think about your time and what you spend your time on.
What do you think your time is worth? Seriously. Think about it for a second. Did you immediately put a dollar value on it? Most people do because we are so used to thinking about time spent in terms of what we get paid by the hour for it.
Imagine for a moment that you thought about every day as one day closer to your death. Its a bit depressing at first, but I promise you I have a point.
How much time do you have left? .....you don't know. You can guess, you can hope, you can plan for a best case scenario, but really you have no idea.
When you start to think about the REAL value of your time, you realize that time is the single most important and valuable thing you will ever have. It is literally the stuff that your life is made of.
So, how are you using that time?
Prioritizing is not just about doing the most urgent things on our to do list, but also about being careful about whats on the list to begin with. Whenever people feel overwhelmed, I ask them to list everything they are trying to fit into their lives and ask them for each one
What will this add to your life? How important is that to you?
Who are you really doing this for?
That last question in particular is a good one to ask yourself, because often stuff that we are trying to do consistently, isn't really for us.
Maybe of us feel pressured by what other people are doing, what we are told by media and society is what we should be doing. What we feel would make people think differently about us if we did. Often we are trying to do stuff because we fear the judgement of others if we don't.
How many of your To Do items start with "I really should..." Like "I really should get to the gym more often" "I really should be more social and go out for dinner with people more" "I really should learn to speak french" " I really should repaint the living room so it looks better in my Instagram pictures"
If the lists starts with "I should" rather than "I want to" then your really need to look at why you're doing something. And if its not because you REALLY want the outcome, but I mean really really really. Then cut it out and set it free. You don't really want it in your life. Find something else that you're more excited about and do that instead.
Every new opportunity or project or idea that comes my way gets carefully evaluated before I try to add it into my life. I try to ask if it will really benefit me, is it in line with my long term goals, will it make me happy, do I have time for it. and most importantly, what will I have to drop from the list to fit it in.
Once you've done all this, the rest is really quite straight forward. Find a scheduling or time management system that works for you. Just because something works for someone else doesn't mean that its going to work for everyone. Experiment a little and find the right way that fits with your lifestyle and personality.
Remember that scheduling rest and relaxation is important too, and be prepared to be flexible. Life doesn't give a damn about your schedule, so you need to be able to flow with things that come up.
Because as my mum once said to me, "You can do ANYTHING, you just cant do it all at once."