Recipe for Easy Living – Blog 267 – THIS IS NOT WRITTEN BY RACH THE WRITTER. FOR THE ORIGINAL POST PLEASE CLICK THE FOLOWING LINK: http://wp.me/pttZj-JT
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Steven Covey
Last week’s blog drew a BIG response from my readers! It seems just about everyone recognized that they can use some “lightening up” in their life. Several commented that they crave more time each week to enjoy family activities or just some relaxing “me” time. But the challenge is HOW to carve out more free time in an already packed schedule? So I decided to share this lightly-edited blog from one year ago that answers that question:
When one of my clients didn’t call at our appointed time this week, I texted her, thinking she might be absorbed in some task and had lost track of the time. Instead, her reply text confessed that she was sitting in the doctor’s office and had completely forgotten our appointment.
Just the day before, much to my chagrin, I double-booked a coaching slot. Fortunately, I discovered my mistake well in advance and one client was gracious enough to switch times. Nevertheless, I was quite annoyed because I take pride in being well-organized and detail-oriented. (My husband and friends have less-flattering terms for this tendency, I’m sure!)
When I notice a recurring pattern among several clients, it’s a signal to me that the issue they are dealing with should be the theme of my blog. This week, it was not only my clients’ behavior, but also my OWN that clearly signaled what I need to discuss.
Living an “abundant” life doesn’t depend on how much money you have in the bank, although money is certainly a good resource to have. Abundant living depends on how much you are enjoying your life. All of my clients are very busy people. Some run a full-time business from home, while juggling a full-time family life. Others have a day job AND are working hard to build a thriving business on the side, often with families to look after, as well.
It’s understandable that they sometimes feel exhausted and overwhelmed, so I share tips and techniques I have learned to help them take control of their schedules. Here are seven keys to mastering your own busy schedule and living an abundant, easeful life:
- Write it down. The only way you can remember all of the “To Dos” that come up daily is to write them down in ONE place. You can break the list into categories if you like, under the headings “Work” “Family” and “Personal.” Keep ONE list in a notepad that you carry with you and review it at least weekly. Trying to keep the list in your head will tax your brain and make you feel stressed. Once it is written down, your mind can relax and focus on what needs doing NOW.
- Schedule it. The items on your To Do list are not going to get done unless you transfer them onto your scheduling calendar. You must keep ONE scheduling calendar that has EVERY appointment and action item from all categories on it – work, family and personal. If you keep multiple calendars for your work and family events, you are inevitably going to double-book yourself or miss some important meeting. The reason I double-booked my two clients was that I noted the appointment change in one client’s file, but must have gotten distracted and forgot to change it on my actual appointment calendar. You MUST write appointments on your calendar the minute you make them. Don’t rely on scraps of paper or sticky notes to remind you.
- Plan your week. I recommend taking a quiet 30 minutes each weekend to sit with your To Do list and appointment calendar and plan the upcoming week. Schedule up to THREE of your To Dos each day AROUND the appointments you already have. Recurring appointments include your morning personal development time, exercise time, kids’ sports schedules, etc. If you don’t write all of these down, you will think you have time for your three To Dos, but will quickly discover that your day is actually already full of unwritten items that you can overlook until you have to do them. If you have blocked time in advance for them, you will accomplish at least 15 important To Dos each week.
- Think ahead. Years ago, one of my dear friends had to wait by the side of the road for AAA to rescue him when his car ran out of gas on several occasions. When I asked him why this kept happening, he said, “I was late for work and didn’t have time to stop at the gas station. I thought I could make it.”Haste truly does make waste, so instead of flying by the seat of your pants, practice looking ahead 24 hours on your calendar to see what you are going to be doing TOMORROW. Make sure you have everything you will need: Gas in the car, clean clothes, cash, meeting supplies, etc. This habit will de-stress your life tremendously.
- Focus. Men are designed to be single-focused, while women are born multi-taskers. I know how easy it is to go into a room for one thing, and end up doing three other things while I’m there. Many of my clients use social media as a vital tool to market their business and make new connections. Most of them confess that they plan to spend just 10 minutes posting something, and they end up mesmerized reading others’ posts for hours.
- Discipline yourself. If you have your schedule blocked out in detail each week, you should know how much time you plan to spend on a particular task. Set a timer for doing the task and when it goes off, STOP and proceed to the next item on your schedule, even if you didn’t finish the first task. That “stick” will teach your brain to FOCUS next time so you can have the “carrot” of proudly accomplishing everything you planned for the day.
- Do it NOW. Most of us are born procrastinators. If we don’t want to do something we must do, we often postpone it until the last minute. But more often than not, our well-laid plans for tomorrow get interrupted by unexpected “fires” to put out that may cause us to miss the deadline. One of my clients declared her New Year’s Resolution to be “Don’t delay; do it NOW.” She has stuck with it and it has made her days much more calm and productive. One of my favorite quotes from life coach Mel Robbins’ great book, Stop Saying You’re Fine, is “If you only did the things you don’t want to do, you’d have everything you want.”
Here’s a final piece of hard-won wisdom from this recovering People-Pleaser: If you can easily fulfill another’s request, by all means, do so. But if it will suck up your time or resources so that your own dreams, family or personal well-being are likely to suffer, just say “NO!” Many things we are invited to attend, join, buy or facilitate aren’t something we truly want and keep us from our own purposeful pursuits. If you respectfully decline, the requestor/inviter will appreciate your honesty and will ask someone else for whom it will be a purposeful opportunity.
If you will implement one or more of these tips, I am confident that you will soon experience more ease, productivity and time freedom in your life!
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