I know it’s easy for me to tell you to create more space and enjoyment in your life, but most of my clients need to do exactly that. They make themselves massive lists and then feel guilty when they don’t complete them. How often do you manage to complete your to-do list? If you don’t complete your to-do list on a regular basis you’re not alone. It’s common to feel a little overwhelmed, rushed, and even guilty when you’re unable to get everything done each day. Staying focused and in the moment can be very challenging.
Then the little things seem to start piling up, at home the dishes are dirty and the laundry needs to be done, at work the emails need answering, phone calls returned and on it goes. The only obvious solution is to work longer/harder and to schedule every minute of the day.
It’s important to remember that nothing stays finished for long. Most of us feel that everything has to be done before we give ourselves permission to enjoy life. However, that moment of feeling “caught up” never seems to come.
If you need to create more space and enjoyment in your life, try these tips:
1. Learn to be glad that you have more work to do. Remember, if you have more to do, your time is valuable. Imagine the implication of not having any tasks to complete at work. You’d likely be out of a job sooner, rather than later.
- Be grateful that so many of the people in your life need you.
2. Look for dead time. You might believe that you’re busy 24/7, but that’s likely untrue. Use those moments between tasks to create more space and enjoyment in your life by mentally relaxing. We all think much more than necessary.
- If you’re working on a report at work, you’re probably also thinking about lunch, the unpaid cable bill, and what you’re going to do this weekend. None are helpful, nor do they help you get your report completed.
- You’ll be much more relaxed and get more accomplished if you mentally limit yourself to the task at hand.
3. Slower can be faster. During my military training I was constantly reminded that “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” Calmly approaching each task will frequently result in getting it done quicker. As our minds become over stimulated, it’s much more challenging to stay focused.
- Think about how quickly you tie your shoes each day. Now try to tie your shoes as quickly as possible. You’ll almost certainly find that you’ve become slower. Any excessive increase in tension slows things down.
4. Limit unnecessary tasks. There’s no point in spending valuable time on things that don’t matter. If you’re spending time on tasks that have little meaning, ditch them.
5. Limit the important tasks, too. You can probably only get a few important tasks done each day. Making a list of 5 is certain to lead to feeling overwhelmed. Pick the 2-3 most important tasks to focus on. The rest can wait until tomorrow.
6. Give yourself the time you need. Everyone does some mental math each day that goes something like this, “This meeting ought to take 60 minutes. I’ll need 20 minutes to interview that job candidate. I have 30 minutes to drive home and change. Then, I still have 15 minutes to get Sarah to soccer practice.”
- We all tend to be optimistic, and our mental schedule requires everything to go perfectly. The interview could take 20 minutes, at best. It might also take 40 minutes. It probably won’t take 10.
- Be realistic and give yourself the time required for each task, as well as the time between tasks.
In order to create more space and enjoyment in your life you have to realise that you have more time available than you appreciate. You can also learn to enjoy a busy schedule. Focus on each task and give yourself time to complete it. Remember that remaining calm and slowing down can actually increase the amount you get accomplished.
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Till Next Time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor