We’re at the end of 2017 and the cycle begins again. Lose weight! Makeover your finances! Get rid of your clutter! Buy better stuff that will help you drop unwanted pounds, balance your budget, and organize your existing stuff! It’s no secret that I think that all of these things are ruses to take our money. I think resolutions, in general, are a setup for failure. You can see my thoughts on here, here, and here.
I am, however, a big fan of self-improvement. Every year I try to pick something in my life that is frustrating me and work on it throughout the year. Two years ago, I removed items and habits that I no longer needed. Last year, I found more stability and routine. (consider this foreshadowing for the next blog in my tax series! riveting stuff, I promise!) I want to build on these successes.
This year, I want to improve my relationship with time. I constantly feel rushed and pressured to move faster. I know I take on a lot. I have a full-time job and freelance (although not weekly). I am working towards a graduate certificate in digital marketing while attending to many aspects of The Strap Saver. I also try to take care of my health, travel, and have a life. It can feel overwhelming.
After careful consideration, I think that may be the key: it feels overwhelming. Some people seem to move through their to do lists with ease, despite the same obstacles. Maybe it’s about perspective as much as it is about process?
A few years ago I won a coaching session at an entrepreneurship event. I confided my concerns about feeling rushed and less productive than I wanted to be. She suggested that I keep a log of my activities so I could learn where I might unintentionally waste time. It was an eye-opening exercise. How many hours pass without us even realizing? (and not in the good, sit on the beach and watch the waves come in and go out kind of way!)
Now that I’m finding time, the next problem is being overwhelmed by the size of my to do list. Another obstacle is deciding where to start. Sometimes, I end up procrastinating rather than face what needs to be done. I have become better about picking the first thing on the list and taking care of it, even if I don’t want to. (some days the mantra is: suck it up, buttercup!)
This dance results in a lot of stress and wasted energy. It adds an unnecessary layer that changes nothing. I am not the type that works harder/faster/better under pressure. Instead, I end up more tired and make careless mistakes. I prefer to be methodical and unrushed.
I think that if I change a few things, I’ll be able to do what must be done, with less stress, and have more down time. I’ll also probably be a healthier person, too. I’ll no longer look at the clock wondering where the time has gone, but maybe see all the hours left to relax and watch the clouds float by.
How can I adjust my attitude so that the thought of tasks do not hold me back? How can I become better prepared so that less time is wasted on deciding? I’ve almost mastered the art of “no” and asking for help. (maybe?) What else can I do to be more efficient? Here are some thoughts:
- Make lists (always a winner with me!) and revisit the lists – it’s ok to decide that something is no longer a priority or even worth doing.
- Try to make a plan for the next day. It will help me to start the day with purpose. (With less waffling, unless that’s the plan. Waffles! Yum!)
- When having trouble prioritizing, or trouble in general, ask for help. An outside perspective can be useful.
- Remember that being kind is more important than being productive.
- Put things away when I am done with them. I have a bad habit of leaving items wherever I last used them – and then I waste time searching for them. (It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I’m not mindful. Once I’m done with something, I’m on to the next task and simply forget. Mindfulness, in general, is not my strong suit.)
- Sometimes it’s ok to call in sick and hit the beach, even to your own to do list.
As I mentioned, I juggle a lot of projects. Is this the right way to spend my time? All of this takes away from my time with Marc and my friends. Does anyone look back at their life and wish that they had worked more?
Marc and I have discussed this many times. The freelance work doesn’t take up a significant amount of time and gives me some financial freedom to travel. I’m learning useful things in my graduate classes that are helping me in my day job and have led to improvements in our site. If our customer has a better experience, it helps us to raise more money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I have specific goals and am making progress towards them.
I hope that by improving my relationship with time, by spending it carefully, mindful, I will have more opportunities to relax while still achieving my goals. I’ll report back in a year!
What did you improve in 2017? Do you have any plans for 2018?
GREAT NEWS! For first three months of 2018, donations from The Strap Saver to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation will be matched, up to $5000. This means that we will raise $1.50 for the first Strap Saver in every purchase and $1.00 for each additional Strap Saver. We have a chance to make a big contribution in a short period of time, so let’s get shopping! Offer expires March 31, 2018