I once had a super ambitious classmate who loved setting goals. His need for achievement compelled him to constantly overextend himself.
He complained about how much he had to do and how little time he had to do it. Then, one day, he announced he had signed up for a stress-management class.
My friend and I exchanged glances. Later, she said she couldn’t help thinking he’d just added one more thing to his long list of things to do.
I had to laugh. He’d missed the most obvious solution to his problem of too much to do. He could have easily reduced his stress by doing less (and it rhymes!)
We’ve all heard of decluttering your physical space. That means getting rid of things you no longer use or love.
But have you thought about de-cluttering your schedule? That means intentionally opening up white space in your overstuffed calendar.
When you stop filling every moment with productivity, you gain control over your life. Rather than reacting and rushing around, you have time to decide what’s important to you.When you stop filling every moment with productivity, you gain control over your life. Click To Tweet
You begin to discern how best to spend your precious moments. Put simply, you do more of what you want and less of what you don’t want.
When you’re more intentional with how you spend your time, you might actually get more done.
You become more focused on your goaIs, while avoiding distractions that take you away from them.
Here are 3 steps to decluttering your schedule. A guide to getting more done by doing less.
1. Ask, does it align with my goals?
Before engaging in a task, ask if it will bring you closer to your goals. Eliminate the busy work that does nothing to move you forward in your life.
This includes time spent on social media. Why not set a timer for 15 minutes, respond and engage with your followers, then turn it off?
You’ll be more productive in that 15 minutes than hours of mindless scrolling.
Whittle your to do list down to the bare essentials, three to five items a day. Some suggest only one item per day.
They say you write down the most pressing task at the beginning of the day. After that’s done, you cross it off and replace it with the next most important thing on our list.
The sense of accomplishment will keep you moving forward. And you’re always working on the most important thing first.
2. Use a values filter
Take time to understand your values. What’s important to you and gives your life meaning?
In general, when your life is aligned with your values, you feel fulfilled and on the right track. You won’t need to use substances like wine and food to feel good.When your life is aligned with your values, you feel fulfilled and on the right track. Click To Tweet
It helps to write down your top five values and use them as a filter through which you accept or reject invitations and commitments.
If you value service highly, your calendar will prioritize volunteer or ministry work. If you value solitude, you’ll need to incorporate stretches of alone time in your schedule.
If there’s a huge mismatch between your schedule and your values, it’s time to reassess your priorities. Start saying no to the things that have little to do with what lights you up.
3. Stop people pleasing
When we clutter our calendars with obligations that don’t match our goals or values, we might have a problem with people pleasing.
In this case, it’s time to set some boundaries and risk disappointing people. That could mean reversing a lifetime of putting others before yourself.It's time to set boundaries and risk disappointing people. That could mean reversing a lifetime of putting others before yourself. Click To Tweet
If you’re not used to it, saying no takes a tremendous amount of courage and will provoke some guilt.
Start by saying “I’ll get back to you,” instead of giving an answer right away. This buys you some space to decide whether to accept the invitation or not.
Often, the people we’re pleasing fail to realize how their demands affect us. They’re thinking of themselves, not you, because that’s your job.
Sad to say, some benefit from your refusal to put yourself first. They won’t take kindly to your saying no. Be prepared for that and stand firm in the face of their objections.
Resist the urge to explain your no. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. (Matthew 5:37)
Shedding excess activity from your calendar lets peace and quiet into your life and gives you space to breathe. Instead of treading water, you take strokes that propel you forward.
Rather than making decisions based on others‘ demands, you’re crafting a schedule that reflects your values, goals, and desires.
You begin to make choices more closely aligned with who you are and the direction you want your life to go. Instead of putting out fires you’re creating a life you love.