With the change of the seasons comes an inevitable change in mindset. Whether you're a big "spring cleaner" or not, there's something about the season that inspires change, detoxification, and a fresh, clean slate. In honor of spring and the boost in motivation that many of us feel, I'm planning to do a mini-series on nontypical ways to spring clean your life.
There are plenty of posts out there on physical things to declutter and lists of the places in your house that need a good scrubbing down every spring (hello, refrigerator). But the lists of the other areas in our lives that need a good de-cluttering are harder to come by.
Today, I want to touch on decluttering our lives from busyness, or more specifically, detoxing our schedules.
I've written a lot about why I steer clear of an overly busy life (and I'll be the first to admit that my work-from-home-stay-at-home-mom life makes it easier to do that) but I'm a firm believer that anyone can benefit from cutting the clutter out of their schedule and intentionally slowing down.
In a piece from The Washington Post one author writes that "somewhere around the end of the 20th century, busyness became not just a way of life but a badge of honor. And life, sociologists say, became an exhausting everydayathon." This everydayathon has serious mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional consequences too. With higher stress levels comes increased risk of sickness, decreased happiness with our lives and relationships, and less time and motivation to connect with what really matters in life.
Even if what keeps you busy is what you're passionate about (in which case you're one of the lucky few,) being too busy isn't helpful or healthy for anyone, regardless of whether your calendar is filled with charity events, happy hours, or work meetings.
So, here are a few tips for downsizing your schedule and carving out time for "nothing".
1. Practice saying No
I've written a lot about "the power of no," but I really believe it's the starting point for living a less busy (and happier) life. Whether you agree to things out of genuine desire to "do it all" or out of a fear of letting someone else down, overcommitment is dangerous if you're trying to live slowly.
I'm not suggesting that you decline every invitation that comes your way because you're afraid of being too busy, but I am suggesting that you pick and choose carefully the things that you say yes to. I've heard it said that it's better to decline more things than you say yes to in efforts to make room for the things that you're really passionate about.
2. Only Agree To Things That Excite You
On the same note as the first point, if something doesn't excite you or add value to your life, why go? Sure, there are the "non negotiables" like work, paying your bills, buying groceries, and certain family obligations, but more often than not, you have a choice in whether or not you do something that you might not even be aware of before you agree.
3. Define What "Busy" Means For You
Like most things in life, the line between having things to do and being overly busy is different for everyone. Some personalities thrive on interaction and going from place to place, while others thrive on solitude and taking time for calm. People in the first category can likely handle higher levels of busy without it disrupting their ability to live simply, while people in the latter camp will get stressed out more quickly if they're too busy. Whatever group you fall into, knowing where a healthy balance between "engaged" and "too busy" is difficult, but it's a vital balance to find.
4. Embrace Routine
Many people dread the word "routine," however, since slowing down my life I've learned to embrace it. There's a place for spontaneity and free spiritedness, no doubt, but a certain amount of predictability is necessary to make simplifying a priority. It doesn't mean that every day has to be planned to the hour (where's the fun in that?) but on days that have the potential to be overly busy, creating a healthy routine to prevent your schedule from becoming too full can be useful.
5. Make An Actual list of your Priorities
Without stating the obvious, it's impossible to prioritize living slowly if you're not sure exactly what your priorities are. Is performing well at your job a top priority? Is being a present mother? Do you need to make sure that you prioritize school work? Even things like "reading more" or "doing more yoga" can be priorities. Make a physical list of the top three or four things that are vital in your life, and schedule your weeks in relation to them.
6. Stop Multitasking
Multitasking, I've learned, is one of the biggest enemies of a slow life. Sure, there are times when it's helpful to do more than one thing at once, but more often than not, multitasking puts unnecessary stress on your situation AND causes whatever you're working on to be done with less focus.
Instead, practice monotasking, a word I learned a while ago that I haven't been able to rid my mind of. Its definition is self-explanatory, but the benefits of doing one thing at a time and doing it well is huge.
7. Learn What Self-Care REally Means To You
Establishing a healthy self-care routine that actually makes you feel refreshed and then making that routine one of your priorities on your list from above is the only way to ensure that busyness doesn't creep its way back in. Be it a weekly "self-care day," a bath at night, time to read/meditate/journal/do yoga, or anything else that calms you, make it a priority too.
How have you learned to stop being too busy? What ways has busyness added stress to your life?