However, at the ripe old age of 40, I am starting to be better about this. My schedule is still overstuffed, but it could be so much worse. I'm finally growing up!
That isn't to say I'm perfect at this yet. Just better. The past two weekends, for instance, I spent a lot of time helping a college student make his Halloween costume as a favor. I didn't mind helping him, but it took a huge chunk out of my life that should have been used for other things. Like maybe making my own children's Halloween costumes, which have only sort of been started at this point. The problem is that I said yes to him back in August, thinking it wouldn't be a big deal. I should have been a bit more forward thinking and realized that October is always crazy for me. I barely manage to get my own children's costumes put together, and there is always a lot going on with my family and work commitments.
Which brings me to the number one way to declutter your schedule...
1. Learn to say No.
You don't have to be rude about it. It doesn't have to be a confrontation. You just have to say it. I always feel terrible when I have to say no to someone. Just terrible. Which is silly, because I really can't do everything I am asked to do, and I shouldn't feel like I have to. But I have tended to take on lots of extra stuff in my life (like making someone's Halloween costume) because I am scared of two letters. N. O.
And even though I obviously didn't do so well with the Halloween costume thing, I am better at saying no now than I have ever been before.
If you'd like to read my best tips on saying no and not feeling bad about it, click here: How to Say No Graciously.
2. Figure out what you waste the most time doing, then stop it.
Hands down, I waste the most time on Facebook. It is so easy to sit down at the computer to pay bills or something and say to myself, "I'm just going to quickly check Facebook before I get down to business." And then, boom! An hour (or more) has passed and I have not paid one bill. But I have read several fascinating articles, taken a stupid BuzzFeed quiz, and watched a viral video. I have also commented on several friends' statuses and checked out what's happening in several of the too many Facebook groups I belong to.
It takes a lot of time to waste time on Facebook! Sheesh!
And while I can trick myself into thinking I am being productive (learning new things, connecting with friends, promoting my blog), for the most part I am being the exact opposite of productive.
Of course, when I finally do actually get down to business, the little ding on Facebook distracts me. I have no self control in the Facebook ding department, so I have to go see what is going on.
I recently took the app off of my phone, and that has made a huge difference in keeping me focused on what I should be doing. And I'm doing better at shutting down the Facebook tab while I am doing other things so I can stay on task. I still waste too much time there, though, and I think I need to start setting some sort of limitations on myself. Fifteen minutes and that's it. Or something. I'm still working it out.
There are other ways in which I waste my time, of course. And I need to be better about those things, too. But just putting limits on Facebook has given me a lot of extra time by itself.
3. Get rid of unnecessary obligations.
I have made obligations that I really don't need to have made. Some of them I am stuck with, but I have been able to graciously get out of others.
For instance, I took an extra job with my department a couple of years ago. It only required about 7-10 hours a week, but I found that it was killing me. Last semester, as I was singing the lead in an opera, teaching 24 students, AND working this little 7 hour a week job, I realized that I couldn't sustain that any longer. We can't forget that I also have three busy children and a household to run. I was staying up way too late at night trying to finish things for this job and it was just too much.
So, I quit. I first worked on getting my blog to an income level where I could justify quitting that job, and once I achieved that, I quit. Now I may stay up way too late at night blogging, but it is something I find enjoyable. It is something I was already doing when I had the other job, so I have essentially found 10 hours a week in my schedule.
If I don't waste all that new found time on Facebook, I can get a lot of great things done in my life!
4. Take time for yourself.
This may seem like a strange way to declutter your schedule, but if you ADD into your schedule time to take care of your own soul, it will make it easier to do the rest. And if you don't add that time into your schedule, it will quickly be filled with other things. Just the same way our house manages to fill itself with stuff when we aren't taking time to actively organize and declutter, our schedule will fill with stuff without our even realizing it.
You must schedule in time for yourself. Time for your family. Time with friends. All of that is extremely important. And honestly? I have said no too many times to family, to friends, and to myself because I had committed to something that was much less important in the long run.
Say yes to what matters, and remember that YOU matter.
- Get out your schedule for the next month.
- Is there anything on it that you can let go?
- If so, let it go.
- Now, schedule some time in for yourself (reading time, shopping time, whatever fills you up!)
- Schedule at least one date night with your spouse or significant other.
- Schedule at least one family day with your entire family.
- Figure out what you waste the most time doing.
- Make a plan to stop yourself from wasting that time.
What is your biggest challenge in keeping your schedule from overwhelming you?
Find all of the posts in this 31 Day Challenge here: A Place for Everything: 31 Days to Less Clutter and More Peace.
See the linky parties I link up to here.