If you are overwhelmed with all the things that have to be accomplished each day, you are not alone.
I recently read about a working mom who organized her time so ruthlessly that she always keyed in 1:11 or 2:22 or 3:33 on the microwave rather than 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00, because hitting the same number three times took less time.
When we focus more on fitting it all in instead of making time for what counts, we lose sight of how to create a meaningful life. Instead of fully experiencing the gift in front of us, we cram our days and lives with all the things. And, juggling all the things makes it impossible to enjoy any of the things.
Instead of searching for the next time management hack so you can do it all, become more deliberate with what you choose to put on your plate. The only reason it’s so full is because you keep saying yes.
Begin to undo the years or decades of saying yes with the life altering practice of making cuts.
Cut one thing
Try this practice once a month. In 3 months you’ll let go of 21 things. More importantly, you’ll create time in your day, space in your home, mental clarity and the confidence and conviction to say no to things that don’t matter.
Cut one thing a month.
Make a list of your monthly commitments and habits. These are things you do once a month at work and home. It could be a social engagement like lunch with a group of friends, a volunteer effort you coordinate for school, or an organizational task at home. List all the things you do once a month and cut one.
Cut one thing a week.
From weekly meetings and appointments to meal planning and carpool, or even your favorite TV show, your weeks may be more structured than you think. What is one small thing you can cut from your list of weekly obligations, even if it means disappointing someone. List all the things you do once a week and cut one.
Cut one thing a day.
Your list of daily things will likely be longer than your list of weekly or monthly commitments. When you make this list, include all of the things you do, and the things you are expected to do and want to do, even if you never get to them. List all the things you do once a day and cut one.
Cut one thing from your past.
There is nothing that’s already happened that will unhappen no matter how much you worry or wish it away. Make a list of things from your past that haunt you or monopolize your time and attention and cut one.
Cut one thing from your future.
Similar to the fruitless worrying about the past, you can’t worry the future into something that it isn’t. What eats you up about tomorrow or next year or the next 10 years? Make a list and cut one.
Cut one thing that makes you feel bad.
It you have a daily habit of eating something that upsets your stomach, or a weekly conversation that hurts your heart, or strenuous exercise that makes your knees and back ache, put it on the list. Include any habit or practice that isn’t serving you, because if it’s damaging your body, brain, or heart, it isn’t worth holding onto or pushing through. Make a list, even though it might be painful, and cut one.
Cut one thing that just doesn’t matter.
This list might be the longest of all, but be honest about how you spend your time. Write down all of it; the gossip, comparison, Candy Crush, Facebook, the news, obsessing over your pant size … These things might not be on your list of things that don’t matter, but own the things you do that really don’t matter. Make the list and cut one.
Try this practice monthly, and one by one cut the things that contribute to busyness, and the things that distract you from what matters most.
At first the cuts will be hard, especially if you are more familiar with the practice of addition. Soon though, you’ll look forward to making tiny edits and shifts to protect your day, your heart and your life.
Consistent cuts of the meaningless will result in more time to create and appreciate a meaningful life.