Well, it’s hard to believe but here we are in March and winter is almost at an end! And while spring might not officially start for another couple of weeks, I’m willing you bet you’re getting ready to embark on a spring cleaning frenzy. Cleaning out your closet, donating half your possessions, organizing your towels by colour and folding your shirts into Marie-Kondo prescribed squares (or is it triangles?). But while you’re knee-deep in deciding whether you should keep that decades-old sweater your mum gave you (hint- you shouldn’t!), I want you to take a second to think about something else in your life that might need some spring cleaning. Something that you use on a daily basis. Something that can really make or break your day/week/month. Something that you probably haven’t paid a lot of attention to.
That’s right. Your schedule. Chances are that’s where the clutter in your life lies, and not in your closet.
Are you still saying yes to things when you don’t really want to?
Are you still rushing from one appointment to another, tackling your to-do list with little to no time left for the important things?
I thought so.
It’s time to pause, take a deep breath and spring clean your schedule.
On a blank piece of paper, write down everything you did in the past 24 hours. Now I want you to look at each activity and ask yourself the following questions:
Was it productive?
Was it necessary?
Was it enjoyable?
This will give you an idea of the activities that align with the values that you wish to maximize to bring you more joy, the activities you want to minimize so you can feel more productive or calm; and the activities you need to stop because it drains you. Not every activity will tick every box but they should at least tick one of them.
Choose Your Method
Once you have an idea of what your ideal day or week looks like, it’s time to choose a planning method that supports it. As I’ve said before, planning is personal so the method you choose is entirely up to you. For me, I’m a self-professed hybrid planner. I need to start with a paper-based system to have a clear picture of my week and the technology to remind me of meetings and appointments between 9am-5pm. Decide what works for you and make adjustments as you go.
Intentionally Remove Distractions
In this day and age, we are constantly bombarded by notifications on our phones, laptops, and tablets. Not only that, the sheer accessibility of entertainment on those devices means we have more than enough that can distract us from all the things we need to be getting on with. Instead of scrolling through your Instagram feed for the 1000th time today or watching “just one more episode” on Netflix, take the time to be intentional with that time. Block off time each day, turn off all notifications and knuckle down. The Pomodoro Technique is perfect for this!
Say “Yes” to Yourself
Many of us struggle saying “no” and it’s understandable. We tend to want to please other people and feel that we will be hurting their feelings by saying no. But what happens if we keep saying yes to things? We end up with far too much on our plates, overwhelmed and stressed and sometimes, resentful. Not good. We also forget that the person asking something of us will most likely understand if we just say we don’t have the capacity right now. Setting boundaries is important to our mental health and wellbeing so if you’re having a hard time saying no, here’s a tip: take a deep breath, say that you may have something else on and you need to have a look at your schedule.
Make space in your schedule for you and the things you love to do. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with adding to your schedule as long as it aligns with your goal or your purpose. The trick is making sure you don’t do too much so you can keep doing the things you love and, more importantly, be present in those activities. For me, I love heading to the local park with my kids and just hanging out with them. It fills me with peace and joy and nurtures my love of family and being in nature. So, I create space in my schedule to do spend time with my kids and just be outdoors. The act of making time for what matters most to you can help you feel more connected and present in your day.
It’s always important for us to take time throughout the year to reflect on how we want to spend our time and be intentional with planning our schedules accordingly. Spending those moments to really think about the way in which you spend your time will help you prioritise the important stuff and leave you feeling more purposeful and content about how and where you spend your time.